Following the end of pride month, local LGBTQ leaders joined city and state officials Friday morning at Academy Park in Albany to speak about the progress moving toward equality in the LGBTQ community.
Their press conference, they say, was scheduled before the Orlando massacre and burning of the LGBTQ flag outside the Damien Center in Albany. Local leaders say the two recent events have shined a spotlight on their community and sparked change. It has also shown there’s still a long way to go when it comes to accepting everyone for who they are.
Gabby Santos of LGBT Health Services said, in part, “We can have awesome policies and enforce those policies, but until we change the culture of our communities, starting with our young ones and not reinforcing homophobia and transphobia as a sentiment that everyone endorses as part of a day-to-day thing, being able to interrupt micro-aggression before they get to the violence to what we have seen like in Orlando ..."
They also want more to be done on a federal level when it comes to looking at the issue of gender identity and mental health resources. Following the Orlando shooting, leaders say that for locals in the LGBTQ community in the Capital Region, it was a stressful time.
"In my 14 years of seeking employment or having employment as a transgender individual, I have experienced an incredible amount of anxiety, hiding and discrimination, harassment from my coworkers and supervisors alike,” said Lyndon Cudlitz from the Pride Center of the Capital Region.
But through the negative events, leaders say they will not stop striving for equality.
"We are a resilient community. Even in the face of hate, we will overcome with love," said Santos.