Jim Koury is the Editor/Publisher of Diversity Rules Magazine, an alternative focus publication primarily dealing with the Queer community’s concerns and issues, along with issues of diversity generally. He is an activist who is not afraid to ruffle some feathers. His main objective is to get people to think and think for themselves. He espouses Aristotle’s mantra, “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Jim does not force his views on others but just puts them out there for folks to think about and discard if they wish.
June has arrived and with it comes the beginning of Pride Season! It is that special time of year when queer folk and allies throughout the nation and the world come together to celebrate their individuality.
More importantly, it is a time for us to remember those who put their lives on the line back in 1969, on that hot, summer night in NYC when a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn rebelled against police persecution. They pushed back when the bar was once again raided by police, like so many times before, simply because it was a gay bar. We must keep the memory of those who stood their ground that night and said, “NO MORE.” Little did these brave patrons know that their action that night would reverberate around the world, and foster what would become the modern-day gay rights movement. Unfortunately, many of our youth of today have no clue about the rebellion and why we march in the streets in the month of June.
There are also many in our community who believe we no longer need pride celebrations. They think we should assimilate into the greater society because of the advancements made since that contentious night in 1969. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially given the current toxic political environment in which we must endure. We must reject these attempts to play down the importance of pride celebrations. We are not all the same. We are different. We are individuals, not an acronym. We are the essence of the spirit of diversity in our nation and around the world. To assimilate and not hold pride celebrations would be to deny our uniqueness and lessen the memory of the trailblazers that ignited the spark of our movement so many years ago.
Additionally, many of us have been the target of discrimination and harassment because of our sexual orientation. Pride season is a time to stand up to the bigots and others who want to see us subjugated to second class status once again and use intimidation and shame to achieve their ends. I am one of those who was threatened and it is a reason why I will always hold pride season near and dear to my heart. I received an anonymous threat which warned of physical harm if I did not stop publishing my magazine, Diversity Rules. I had decided then that I was not going ever stop producing Diversity Rules and I would always speak my mind on equality and justice at all costs, no matter the consequences. Pride season is a vehicle through which to do so.
This pride season also brings happy memories when I am reminded of the exhilaration I felt, as the then City Clerk of the City Oneonta, of arranging to have City Hall open the Sunday same-sex marriage was legalized in NY. It was such an amazing day! There was also a wedding reception following the closing of City Hall. It was an honor and privilege to be able to facilitate the day and have it become an even more memorable one for 3 couples because they were able to be legally married.
These are the reasons pride season is important to me and reasons why I unabashedly do and say what I do, and proudly and loudly express myself, while at the same time not being afraid to speak my truth. We must be proud and loud about who we are and of our individuality. We must be proud and loud in the face of persecution by homophobic bigots. We must be proud and loud in remembering those who came before us who took a stand and did not back down in the face of police persecution. We must simply be PROUD AND LOUD and demand we be allowed to live our lives in peace and with those whom we love, like everyone else, without fear of repercussions for doing so.
Happy pride everyone!