Pride Comes Alive! (and then some!)

I don't think any of us quite expected it. June 26, 7 a.m. here on the West Coast and 10 a.m. on the East Coast. We had been holding our breath for weeks, even months, when we heard that Obergefell vs. Hodges would be heard by The Supreme Court—raising the judicial question whether marriage equality should be recognized throughout the land. Then, at that moment, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality across all 50 states of the union. Our community had been jolted. Life has not been the same!

As many people as I talked to, they described the occurrence as somewhat surreal. Over and over again, pursed on the lips of many peers was, “I never thought I would ever see this day come.” Then suddenly, in an almost incredulous fashion, the decision was handed down. Could there have been a better moment? After decades of struggle, PRIDE came alive in an entirely new way. We as LGBTQ have achieved a new level of societal recognition. We shall not be the same.

The rest of the day seemed like a carnival at The Center. Staff were embracing one another. Everything imaginable with rainbow colors was pulled out of closets. The media whirred with one interview after the next. The sheer joy at The Center was heartfelt. There were tears and laughter, hugs and high-fives, then more tears and laughter. It was hard to identify the moment.

And social media lit up like a rainbow Christmas tree. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other platforms carried one expression of joy and disbelief after another. There were somber moments, reflective moments, patriotic moments, as well as unwavering commitment to move it all forward. Folks related that they felt “recognized.” They felt “American” for once. One message of joy and hope after the next was spread. This uncanny world of social media will never be the same again.

And then, they turned out in the evening—in extraordinary numbers. All came to celebrate. Many came to witness history. They were all present: LGBTQ young and old, in a variety of races and ethnic groups. The sons and daughters of LGBTQ were present. So were allies. It was a family to behold in all its diversity and richness. Many came to remember the past. Others came to savor this moment in history. Still others, so PROUD of what happened to them earlier in the day, vowed to expend their efforts to end other forms of discrimination and separation felt by our community. It was a celebration of community.

Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines pride as “…a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people.” Indeed, in one sweeping judgement, a new respect came to our land. Yes, it won’t quiet the detractors or silence the arguments. It won’t erase bigotry or eliminate all the shadows of discrimination and separation. But it brought us a new light for our nation—a light of inclusion. It brought us new recognition and a new respect for LGBTQ. Upon this platform of victory and hope, we will build even further.

That weekend because of a few health challenges, I was required to lay a little bit low. And throughout the whole weekend, I witnessed the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in one of the most colorful and energetic gay PRIDE weekends all throughout the United States. PRIDE New York celebrated! PRIDE San Francisco. PRIDE Chicago and almost every major city across the nation. This was our moment of recognition. Life in these United States will never be the same. It was a PRIDE moment……and then some!

Michael Dimengo
Chief Executive Officer
mdimengo@thecenterlv.org

How fit are you... emotionally?

We’re pretty fortunate in Las Vegas. We enjoy weather that is warm and invigorating almost all year round. Take it from this Midwesterner. I am reminded that in many areas of the country, with the passage of Spring, people are looking forward to a healthy and active summer. “Spring has finally sprung in Chicago,” some good friends texted me just the other night from Chicago. Winter and the long season of inclement weather is over. People are looking forward to the invigoration of going outside. We’re motivated to get active, to lose weight in order to get into our bathing suits. There’s a general sense of getting fit and making ourselves fit. It is an annual and cyclic ritual of sorts.

I’m constantly reminded of our ability to be emotionally fit and well balanced. We’re made aware of those challenges in our work at The Center where we have the privilege to serve a wide variety of individuals in our LGBTQ community. As LGBTQ we face extraordinary odds as we live life out and proud. But living in a way that is true to ourselves can sometimes be extraordinarily challenging. We have to stay healthy amid the stresses. And, like those who are gym buddies who rely on the support of one another to pursue fitness and well-being, we need to rely on one another to challenge us to be emotionally fit and strong.

Social CirKish teaches youth circus skills, self-esteem and so much more

Starting in the summer of 2014, The Center began offering free circus skills classes to youth 10-19 years of age. Juggling, clowning, high wire, acrobatics, plus performing in a show in front of an audience all for free. The only requirement is that the student commit to showing up twice a week to classes for the entire nine weeks of the course. The program is called Social CirKish and is funded through generous contributions from the John C. Kish Foundation.

Beyond the circus skills, which also impart confidence, self-esteem and discipline, the classes improve etiquette, manners and positive interactions between youth of disparate backgrounds and their instructors. That’s the social part of Social CirKish. Inner city youth, LGBTQ youth, and youth of a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds all come together to train in circus arts and acquire more social skills.