Hope Amidst Adversity

Dear friends,

These last few weeks, I have been vacillating between states of outrage, exhaustion, and grief. Outrage at the Alabama State Legislature’s heinous assault on the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Exhaustion from the barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ disinformation. Grief for our LGBTQ+ family, especially our trans siblings, who are experiencing the brunt of the harm.

I wish I could tell you that I’m surprised by our state legislature, but a glance at our neighboring states exposes what many of us have come to realize: what we are experiencing in Alabama is just the manifestation of a broader, carefully designed, multi-million dollar agenda to incite fear and gain power by scapegoating the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s no coincidence that in just the last two years, a number of states in the South have passed identical bills that punish teachers, delegitimize librarians, criminalize doctors, and terminate university staff for acknowledging the existence and needs of LGBTQ+ people. These copycat bills were never outgrowths of a meaningful dialogue; they represent a coordinated power grab by state governments to undermine our most trusted institutions and vilify the queer community.

If you are overwhelmed, you’re not alone. It can be hard to find hope at a time like this. And let me tell you, they don’t want you to find it.

They want us to lose hope. Because hope tells us to persevere, no matter how daunting the horizon. Hope says to keep fighting. And if we can hold onto it, hope will remind us that we’ve been here before. When the Save Our Children campaign of the 70s alleged that we were perverts. When Jerry Falwell in the 80s declared AIDS the “Wrath of God” against gay people. When US senators in the 90s called us “degenerates” and “morally weak wretches.” In those decades, public opinion skewed decisively against us, reinforced by sodomy laws, DOMA, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

But our hope persisted, in spite of these obstacles. It taught us to be brave, to come out, to build vibrant community under the nose of an oppressive state. To speak truth to power and to raise awareness about the struggles of queer kids. Year after year, anti-gay laws got overturned. Supportive laws got passed. Public opinion shifted. In 1996, just 27% of the country supported gay marriage. By 2010, it was 44%. Today, that figure is over 70% (Gallup). In little over a couple decades, we moved the needle that much.

The frontier has changed, but the story is the same. The path ahead feels bleak. But we will move the needle of this cultural climate again, despite how long it takes or how hard it gets.

On the other side of so many setbacks, hope prevailed. And it will prevail again.

In love and solidarity,

Corey Harvard (he/him)
Executive Director, Prism United

Queer Rights Rally

Queer Rights Rally Poster

Join us tonight at 6:30pm in Cathedral Square as we stand with our friends at Trans Pride of MobileRainbow Pride Of Mobile, and Southern Transgender Alliance to speak out against the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being deliberated at our state house. 

Prism recommends utilizing the ACLU of Alabama’s 2024 Legislative Action Hub to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the 2024 legislative session. It’s an essential tool for understanding how advocacy efforts are shaping policies and guiding you on how to hold lawmakers accountable.