Reppin' for Change: Pride Month in America

Reppin' for Change: Pride Month in America

The month of June around the world is Pride Month. The meaning behind Pride is so much more than just rainbows, parties and parades. Pride Month is a celebration for people who have had to fight to be who they truly are. It's about acknowledging how hard it can feel to be true to yourself and your sexuality and recognizing that a lot of individuals in the LGBTQ+ have been bullied, disowned, humiliated, assaulted and even killed just for our sexuality and who we fall in love with. 

Queer people deserve to feel safe. No religion or belief system should endanger the safety of others. Unfortunately in today’s society, the majority of people in the queer community endure pressure and hardships. Between public slander and the silent battles we face on a daily basis, we as a community need change. We need to be able to live our lives freely and not be fearful to be in public with romantic partners or platonic partners. Some will say “you’re being dramatic”, “people have changed”, “things are not as bad as you’re making it seem”. Try again.

On May 21st, 2022 a man named Ethan Schmidt in Phoenix, Arizona posted a video on twitter stating that this June he would be making “massive scenes” and “expose” any LGBTQ supporters at the target stores across Phoenix. Schmidt also stated that he likes to “hunt” LGBTQ supporters in his free time and would go on expeditions soon across Arizona. “Keep an eye out for that because if you support the LGBT agenda, you are not safe” were Schmidt’s exact words as he laughed in his video on twitter.

You would HOPE that would be the worst of it. But, a couple weeks later on June 9th, 2022 it was reported that a Pastor named Dillion Awes of the Texas Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga was quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram saying gay people should be “lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.” This church has been labeled an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The pastor also stated that “These people should be put to death. Every single homosexual in our country should be charged with a crime. The abomination of homosexuality that they have, they should be convicted in a lawful trial. They should be sentenced with death. They should be lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.”

When this was brought to the Watauga Police Department they came back only to state that Awe’s comments were protected by free speech. A terroristic threat is protected under free speech. 

What if this was reversed? What if an LGBTQ leader got on camera and said that any straight, white, homophobic, catholic and or christian people deserve to be lined up and executed one by one? It would make national television everywhere, they would be arrested immediately and brought to trial as soon as possible.

This is the issue. The bias and prejudice against the queer community is real and change needs to happen. People need to speak up about the injustices that continue to occur while people just sit back and watch. Police need to take threats more seriously no matter who is making them. People need to listen to more gay voices outside of just pride month. Awareness should be spread on a regular basis when people’s lives are being threatened and active change should follow.

We need more allies, people who themselves are not gay but help the queer community feel safe. We need people to stop sexualizing women loving women relationships in the male gaze; Romantic relationships between two lesbians are not some straight person’s fetish. They are real people who are in love and want to have a life together.

We need the governing bodies to stop trying to legislate us out of existence. We need Christians/Catholics in today’s society to stop glorifying some sins such as drinking but condemning homosexuality as the worst sin. Everyone needs to play their part in making these changes.

I myself have been disowned, bullied, and harassed when first coming out from my own family. Being kicked out of my home, put through extreme emotional manipulation, and putting so much stress on my first queer relationship it eventually crumbled underneath the pressure.

As soon as my parents found out about my first girlfriend they made our lives a living hell. Calling my ex-partner name after name, showing up to her family’s home un-announced when her family took me in, threatening to call the police and do a wellness check on me for being “brainwashed”.

After that, all of my belongings from my childhood back home were thrown in the driveway in garbage bags for me to sort through for weeks. I was called a disappointment of a daughter just for falling in love with a woman and publicly identifying as a lesbian.

I fought tooth and nail to come out and live my truth while losing that relationship with my family when I was only 20 years old. Along with the pressure of just trying to then live on my own, make my own money to pay my bills and continue to train to be a world class weightlifter. The arguments and disowning went on for at least 2-3 years until I finally made the decision to block their numbers and completely cut them out of my life.

Now that I have made it out of that period in my life, I am completely independent at the age of 23 and I am taking the responsibility to be the voice of others who may not be able to speak as freely and loudly as I can.

Reppin' for Change: 2020 Champion Jules Riotto

I know I am not the only member of the LGBTQ+ community with this type of story. We are being disowned from our families, we are being harassed and bullied out in the streets and now groups of people are gathering to try and execute us one by one.

I am here to tell you that we will not be silenced, we will not just sit and wait for another shooting to happen similar to the 49 people killed at “Pulse” in Orlando, Florida on June 12th, 2016. We will speak out about this, we NEED to take action, we NEED change to happen this pride month.

Please help your gay community this month and every month. Take a stand and fight for what’s right. I know I will be on all of my social media platforms and every single time I take the weightlifting platform at national and international competitions. 

Earth Fed Muscle is currently matching donations in your cart to Athlete Ally, who believes that everyone should have equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports — regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

By Jules Riotto, 2020 National Champion 


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