My Letter to the Central PA LGBT Community

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This letter appears in today’s Patriot-News. Join the conversation on Pennlive.com.

I write today on behalf of the Central Pennsylvania LGBT community.

We face many challenges in our lives. We can be denied employment, housing and marriage certificates. Our elders live alone and in poverty. Our youth are bullied and living on the street. We are publicly condemned on almost a daily basis.

But our biggest problem is that our neighbors here in central Pennsylvania still don’t know who we are. We are invisible, struggling in silence.

I write today in hopes others can find the courage to take just one step toward creating visibility for our community. It doesn’t require volunteering for the Community Center, reading The Advocate or being well-versed on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Proposition 8 or “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It doesn’t even require the word “pride.”

All it takes is coming out to one person who doesn’t know, flying the rainbow flag for just one day or holding a partner’s hand at a movie.

One small step moves our entire community forward. One step toward dignity is one step away from shame.

Many of our neighbors still aren’t sure what LGBT stands for despite the fact it is a standard identifier for our collection of identities.

If we start to educate, though, they’ll start to appreciate.

ZACK FORD, Newport

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