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    Shining Our Rainbow Light Through the Prism of Pride

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Thank goodness for Pride. We could all use a big rainbow dose of LGBTQ Pride celebration at about right now. At the heart of the festivities of parades, marches, film festivals, panel discussions, drag shows, fundraisers, mimosa plentiful breakfasts, brunches and lunches, and all other gatherings to commemorate and celebrate, calibrating to further bend that long arc of the moral universe justice towards gaining fuller inclusion, civil and human rights, and equality remains at the heart of the matter.

    With the daily assaults on our moral sensibilities on the matters of race, gender, immigration, public safety, and economic justice, a rousing celebration and contemplation on the truest values of diversity are needed as much as ever. Waking up every morning to cringe at the news of yet another sad episode of the use of police as agents of segregation to remove black men from a Starbucks while waiting for a business colleague, or a black student resting in a commonly used study and rest area at Yale; or notoriously racist comedic actresses blaming Ambien for an abhorrent racist tirade on Twitter; or the growing numbers of blatantly anti-Semitic, white nationalists running for high elected office; or some fool self-entitled nativists screaming in the face of a ‘foreign’ person for not speaking the Queen’s English (like he was—not!); or, the reported unknown whereabouts of over 1,400 children caught up in the border patrol net; or whatever other hot mess of micro to macro aggressions boiling over into a constant stream of nonsensical horrors begs for some blissful moment of time out, respite and renewed spirit.

    Have mercy.

    Pride might very well provide a time of retrospection, renewal and reconnection with our aspirations of living together peacefully, freely and equally. Pride does not, however, denote a retreat from the work that must persevere so that all are treated with dignity, respect and fairness. Bending that rainbow arc to extend beyond the provincial LGBTQ atmosphere and into the larger universe and stratosphere of all matters of justice and equality is the tireless, yet rewarding, liberation work that can never rest or stop. Not every day presents a grand parade down a main thoroughfare. Each day does invite each of us to the ongoing march of small steps—and sometimes leaps and bounds—through rockier terrain that eventually leads to the promise of something better over that rainbow.

    Of all the attributes attached to the meaning of a rainbow—from the historical (a/la the late Gilbert Baker’s creation of the rainbow flag to encompass the diversity of the LGBTQ diaspora) to the biblical (the rainbow after the great flood of Noah’s ark signifying the start of a new world)—of particular fascination to me is the piercing light through a prism. When held up to the light just so, the powerful simplicity of refracted spectrum of rainbow light shining through the rigid, angular-edged symmetric solid form is always a sight to behold. The degree to which one turns the prism to the light makes all the difference, however slight, in one’s perspective and ability to see that dazzling breakthrough. It’s that childlike wonder and hope of seeing and creating that coalition of colors gleaming through that keeps you turning the jagged prism ever so slightly towards the light.

    Through the prism of Pride, we welcome that rainbow shine onto the opportunities for growth and renewal, and onto the diverse drum majors for equality and justice past, present and on the horizon. Among the numerous Pride events taking place throughout June, one such annual event in which we celebrate and elevate those drum majors for justice and equality is the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club’s Annual Pride Breakfast.

    It’s an early Sunday morning start before joining your contingent in the San Francisco Pride Parade and serves as the Club’s main event of the year. The funds raised go towards helping to elect candidates for state and local office who meet Alice’s mission to “fight for inclusivity, integrity, diversity, and fairness.” This year, the keynote speaker at the Breakfast will be California’s fearless United States Senator Kamala Harris. Alice will also be honoring the indomitable Kate Kendell, long-time and retiring Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, for her lifetime of work fighting for LGBT equality. 

    Additionally, this year’s gathering will be dedicated to the memory of the late Julius Turman, a former co-chair of Alice, SF Police Commissioner, and fierce champion for inclusion and equality. For those in search of an inspiring, engaging, and energizing start before you hit the streets for Pride Sunday, you can learn more online (

    Wherever you find yourself, and with whomever you find yourself celebrating and commemorating this 48th year of Pride in San Francisco and around the Bay Area, we hope that you will take time to turn your own prism ever so slightly for newer perspective; shine your own rainbow light to reflect, revel and rejoice in the work done to get us to this point along the rocky march towards justice and equality; and refresh for the journey ahead towards more hopeful, brighter days, and every day march with pride.

    Andrea Shorter is President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A Co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.