Reproductive Freedom and Pride Go Hand-In-Hand: Here’s Why
Joy and resilience were palpable in the air as I stood in front of the Supreme Court on Monday morning. Hundreds of us had gathered to witness the decision of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case that would not only make history, but would impact millions of people across the country immediately.
As we waited for the decision to be announced, we cheered, we chanted, we hugged, we high-fived, and we danced with abandon to Beyoncé. In those moments, we put aside our anxiety about the outcome and forgot about the hostile anti-choice counter protesters a few feet away. In that wonderful moment, we simply celebrated.
We celebrated ourselves and our strength in the face of adversity. We celebrated the shoulders that we stand on, those of our foremothers who paved the way and taught us to be brave. In the energy of that moment, I was reminded of a familiar place: a Gay Pride parade.
The first time someone asked me why LGBTQ people should care about abortion rights, I was shocked. The conservative, anti-equality and anti-choice movement has long understood the connection between the two issues. The same organizations — groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research council — that litigate and advocate against LGBTQ equality are also power players behind the movement to shut down abortion clinics and limit access to birth control across the country. Our opposition views the family not as a caring and constructive social unit meant for the mutual support and benefit of its members, but as a means of social control which structures society in the proper hierarchy. For them, there is only one right way to be a family — and any deviation from that model threatens them.
A society based on the control of women’s and queer and trans people’s sexuality is a society that needs to be changed. A broad array of loving family structures are all considered something to be embraced and celebrated. Both the Reproductive Rights and the LGBTQ movements are fighting for the human right and dignity of defining our own lives, bodies and families. We are both fighting against the idea that there is one right way to express sexuality and to be a family. A cisgender woman’s struggle to be respected as the sole decision maker over her body and fertility is inherently linked to queer and trans people’s fights to be safe and respected in their bodies and families. We are each fighting for the same thing: dignity of self-determination and the right to make decisions about our bodies and plan our families in the way that best for us.
This is especially clear to the many people who fall into both categories. Queer women cannot live our lives fully without respect for our decisions in regards to both our sexuality and our reproductive health. Transgender people need to be respected as the deciders of both their reproduction and of their gender identity.
Though there is a common misconception that LGBTQ people have no need to access reproductive health care, a recent study found that LGB teens are actually at a higher risk of becoming pregnant or causing a pregnancy than their straight counterparts. Whether it is abortion, birth control, comprehensive sex education or paid parental leave, reproductive freedom is an important issue to individuals and families in the LGBTQ community, both theoretically and practically.
In a world where we are still under attack; as we mourn together the victims who have been targeted for having the audacity to live out their lives authentically — those who lost their lives at a gay nightclub in Orlando and a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs — it is imperative that we stand together and recognize the intertwined nature of our struggles.
None of us will be truly free to live our lives with dignity and authenticity until we all are. And though we find ourselves mourning together, it is equally important that we dance together.
This month, as we dance in Pride parades and in front of the Supreme Court, together we celebrate our resilience, our strength in the face of adversity, and the beauty in our diverse lives and families. As the fights for LGBTQ and Reproductive Rights continue on another day, we share more in common than the same enemy; we share the same joy. Even after Pride month ends, let’s never forget to keep dancing.
Gabby Weiss is a Field Organizer for NARAL Pro-Choice America. She loves to dance in the streets and start conversations about abortion with strangers. After being raised as a staunchly anti-choice fundamentalist Christian, Gabby made a 180 degree shift in worldview and is passionate about protecting every individual’s right to live and love in safety and dignity.