Opinion: The importance of recognizing Pride month

Jun 5, 2021

To the Editor:

My name is Bryan Landgren and I have been a resident of the Town of Wareham for as long as I can remember. My family and I have been here since my father was a child and it is our favorite place to be. 

The pride flag was first introduced after approaching Gilbert Baker by the San Francisco Pride committee in 1978 asking to develop a new symbol to represent LGBTQ+ rights. After deliberation, he decided on a rainbow for its representation of diversity and acceptance. The rainbow flag has become an internationally recognized symbol in the movement for equal rights with love, tolerance, and peace. 

If you want to know how raising a flag is something that could potentially create a more safe and inclusive environment, there have recently been altercations across multiple different social media platforms using derogatory words, hateful comments, and have led to insight towards conversations that very clearly led to a need for more education. 

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as someone who has worked for years at Samaritans (a nonprofit for suicide prevention) while also working for the Crisis Textline, I can say that firsthand, the number of suicide deaths and mental illness diagnosis have increased for members of the LGBTQ+ community over the past year. According to the National Association of Mental Illness, one in six students nationwide (Grades 9–12) seriously contemplated suicide in the past year while LGBTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. As someone who has struggled himself throughout the course of coming to terms with his sexuality, we are more powerful together than apart, and we’ve never been more focused or more energized to stand up for the lives and rights of such a pivotal moment in our nation. Our institutions of power and government that are built on systematic inequalities must be reshaped. 

As a member of the Town of Wareham for nearly my entire life, a town that my family has considered home since their earliest years, being able to turn to the town center and see the town supporting the rights of other people to the public sector is something that could truly impact those who are silent in a time of need. There are plenty of places that I can think of, and would be willing to be a part of myself if we were able to accomplish this great milestone. 

To draw from the above, I was even curious to know if the Town of Wareham would ever consider signing a proclamation in celebration of Pride Month? I watched selectmen unanimously vote on Tuesday to proclaim Sunday, June 13, to be Race Amity Day in Wareham and would love for this to be something we could potentially do for Pride Month (June), as well. 

With all of this being said, I am fully aware of the capacity to this request — the thought that would need to go into this is sadly unbeatable. However, to even know that this is a possibility and could be something we could turn into a reality would be a great accomplishment. Yes, there are plenty of flags that we as citizens could fly, and so many countless options, but this one is near and dear to so many hearts and now more than ever is calling for recognition.

The Town of Wareham has a plethora of individuals who could use this symbol of recognition as a sign — a sign of hope, light, education, and even dedication to the town's residents. With this in mind and bringing this into consideration, you could be a major factor in somebody continuing their story and hopefully one day, making a difference in their lives journey. 

I want to thank you for your time and attention to this important subject matter,
Bryan Landgren