PRIDE: The Right To Love Freely

- June 12th, 2020 -

The following is my  E-Connections cover story for IPM (www.ipmconnect.org). It is also important for me to note that today (June 12) is also Loving Day–53 years ago today, the Supreme Court allowed Mildred & Richard Loving to marry, striking down 16 state bans on interracial marriage as unconstitutional. 

As far as I know, this is the first E-Connections in IPM’s history to focus on Pride Month and, as the headline suggests, the Right to Love Freely. To some of you this might seem an “odd” time or a “disconnected” topic to focus upon when our world is in the midst of a global pandemic and peaceful protests proclaiming Black Lives Matter are met with brutal suppression. In the midst of such tumult, it is heartening to remind ourselves that love is love and, God knows, we need as much love as we can get these days.

Intersectionality is a word that you may not have heard and it’s a concept that can be hard to define. But for IPM intersectionality is really at the center of all we do. We know well that people and communities aren’t solely composed of one race or religion. Nor are material poverty and social marginalization confined to one place in time. Oppression tends to encircle the poorest of the poor, but there are always ever more marginalized segments of society who are victimized further on the basis of ability, gender, gender identity, race, and sexuality. Time and again, we witness how LGBTQ+ folks—especially from caste, ethnic, and racial minority communities—are treated, if you will, the worst of the worst.

It is frankly long overdue that IPM not only support but uplift our Partners and friends who are doing courageous work at the intersection of gender, race, and sexuality. In India, Maya and Indira are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Their personal commitment and historic witness places them at great risk, just as their spirit inspires all whom they meet. In El Salvador, Tu Decides, is providing a platform for the young people of longstanding IPM Project Partner, il Patronato Lidia Coggiola, to make decisions about their bodies from a position of profound personal agency rather than succumbing to the machisto “norm”.

In finalizing this edition of E-Connections, I was particularly moved by my colleague, Victoria Jimenez’s, reflection on the 2016 Pulse Night Club Massacre. Vicki shares how her innate reaction to that hateful mass shooting awakened her humanity. And, in reading her words, I recalled the loss of my first dear friend to die of HIV/AIDS almost three decades ago. I still miss him. Knowing and loving John and his partner awakened me to the reality of intersectionality in all life and exposed the heterosexist biases so many of us still hold.

An essential component of IPM’s role in the world is to humbly lead one another to a deeper understanding of our shared aspirations and the inalienable rights we all share. To claim space where others might fear to tread, knowing that our inherent dignity is rooted in something much deeper than whom we love and the color of our skin. It is the very essence of our humanity and our right to openly proclaim pride in our work, our partnerships, and our love.

I pray that as you watch the Vikalp Women’s Group video, learn about the remarkable work of Tu Decides, and read Vicki’s personal testimony, you will feel emboldened to share in the pride of this month and continue to do all you can to help make IPM’s mission possible.

In Peace & Love,
Joe

Joseph F. Cistone
June 12th, 2020
joesphfranciscistone.net