Reflecting on Women’s History Month 2013

Earl PlanteEach year, Women’s History Month is celebrated.  It is a month dedicated to recognizing the contributions and historical events by women that have shaped society as well as the ongoing challenges that women face.  The 2013 National Women’s History Month theme, Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination, honors generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to all humanity.

As a proud third wave feminist who learned many of tactics and organizing lessons via on the ground associations and organizing under my single mother’s tutelage, I continue to recognize that though we have made much progress there is still much to do.   Feminism and the LGBT movement for me at their shining best recognize that we are only stronger when we showcase our myriad colors, ethnicities, nationalities, and cultural backgrounds.

Beyond espousing inclusiveness for protection from violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, I often must challenge others in mixed company among peers that we indeed share common struggles and our oppressors continue to exploit our public divisions.  Ultimately, our coalition work must continue, even if it is messy for there is still great potential across varied disciplines and communities, only if we keep our eyes on the prize.

As CEO of SF Pride, I view it as a top priority that we recognize women, all women who have paved the way for all of us, and with their struggles I understand how I, as a gay male of color, must continue to raise my voice for women’s rights, and how that intersects with the LGBT struggle to the concept of gender binaries. When I reflect on society’s rigid sense of masculinity, it is always clear in my mind that when we examine femininity and women’s rights, we must challenge our beliefs about masculinity as well. And thus, as I live my life I constantly must comprehend, examine and grapple with discrimination and oppression, I too am directly affected as a man.

This realization has very real world implications for today’s LGBT movement: for we as a community must embrace an end to violations against women and girls, and we must also end the societal barriers of gender norms.  For when we examine women’s rights and successively dissect gender identity, we undoubtedly affirm that women’s rights encompass everybody, including men.

As a student of history I tend to look back on the highs and lows associated with the milestones of the women’s movement, taking into account the fights waged, along with the countless lives and collective talents lost over the years.  And it is so powerful and comes full circle if one reflects upon the countless women trailblazers from the LGBT community (e.g. Audre Lorde, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Barbara Gittings) who have laid the foundation for where we find ourselves in 2013 today with our current day “sheroes”: Sapphire, Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, and Jane Lynch to name only a few.

I take great pride and joy in our collective accomplishments as advocates, educators, and healers to the world in the ongoing fight against complacency around sexism and homophobia upon the billions of individuals, families, and communities impacted around the globe.  I hope that you will take some time to reflect upon what together we have accomplished, and challenge yourself on the opportunities that lie ahead. If we all make a personal commitment to fighting sexism and promoting women’s rights in our daily lives, I know the LGBT community will be ready to tackle the many challenges, as 2013 pride season quickly approaches.

Until Next Month In Pride,

Earl Plante


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