Along with an audience of over a dozen LGBTQ+ people and allies, on Wednesday, June 9th, Sussex County Pride asked Commissioners Fantasia, Fasano, Carney, and Yardley to recognize June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Our commissioners denied this simple request.
Their first reason, that the request was not submitted more than 30 days before the county’s June meeting dates would seem reasonable if it wasn’t for the fact that the commissioners amended their agenda to include two additional additions at the beginning of this meeting.
Commissioner Carney pointed out that June is Pride month every year, and that the public should have been more proactive and submitted their request months in advance.
If you ask us, the responsibility of our elected officials to caring about the LGBTQ+ community should not fall on the taxpayers.
The second reason was given by Commissioner Director Fantasia. In her comments, Commissioner Fantasia said that the Sussex County Board of Commissioners declared June Pride month last year, and that because they received “feedback” for using President Trump’s 2019 comments, they would not proclaim June as LGBTQ+ Pride month. What Commissioner Fantasia neglected to mention, was that our press release thanked the commissioners, but criticized them for praising a president who had just rolled back healthcare protections for transgender individuals.
“So I’m coming to the conclusion that the board supporting any initiative is not the purpose. Shame on you for making this political. The Democratic Party does not have a lock on love or who you love….” At this point in Commissioner Fantasia’s comments, the majority of the audience walked out in protest.
Our executive director, Zoe Heath, remained for the entirety of the meeting. “Our commissioners had the opportunity to prove their own point, that this isn’t a partisan issue, and pass this resolution. Instead, the board insulted and attempted to shame myself and other community leaders for caring about the LGBTQ+ community.”
Commissioner Fantasia, we’re glad you agree that love is love. Sexuality isn’t the only aspect of the LGBTQ+ community, gender is just as big a part of our community. When there has been a wave of anti-trans legislation across the country, simply saying ‘love is love’ and nothing else doesn’t make you and your colleagues allies, nor does it absolve you of your bigotry.
Commissioner Yardley also complained about the criticism. “It amazes me how this board gets attacked over a smirk. I was smirking. Well you know what? That’s how I look sometimes….I don’t understand. I understand your passion about your views, but we’re supposed to respect.”
Commissioner Yardley, LGBTQ+ are not discriminated against, beaten, and murdered for our views. It happens to us because of our identity. You can change your views, unlearn your bigotry and bias. We cannot change our identities.
While Sussex County Pride is a non-partisan organization with no formal ties or endorsement of any party, pride is political. Our oppressors have made pride political across the county for years. As long as the LGBTQ+ community has to fight for equal protection under the law and for our rights, it will always be political.