The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, housing, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at MAP@Local802afm.org or (212) 397-4802
June is Gay Pride Month. How can we support each other this month – and always?
June is Gay Pride Month, a time for us all to consider the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LBGTQ) community and their contributions to our industry and society. The fight to secure equal rights and acceptance has come so far. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been repealed. Multiple states have legalized same sex marriage. Mainstream TV shows depict openly gay men and women leading productive lives and having strong families. What more must we do to put an end to intolerance, judgment and discrimination?
The path has been laid with the hard work of those who fought to maintain the rights and dignity of everyone regardless of sexual orientation. But it’s clear that without ongoing action and support intolerance will continue. Just recently, North Carolina voted to change its constitution, adding a ban on gay marriage and civil partnerships between same sex couples.
The struggle is far from over. It is up to all of us to take action that will ensure the acceptance of the LBGTQ community. And there are fairly simple ways for each of us to pitch in to foster inclusivity and tolerance.
Speak out against bullying, and support gay youth. Bullying among children has recently grabbed national attention. We have read and heard stories of young people feeling victimized by peers because they are perceived to be different. Recent studies show that LBGTQ kids are much more likely to be bullied than their heterosexual peers. Adolescents often struggle to come out as gay, lesbian or bisexual because they’re intimidated, and fear being tormented by their peers. Organizations like the Trevor Project, the National Center for Bullying Prevention and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network combat bullying. The Hetric-Martin Institute and the Harvey Milk High School are two amazing organizations that support LBGTQ teens by providing safe environments in the classroom and in after school programming. Maximizing self esteem, interpersonal skills and confidence in adolescents is their goal. Contact them to get involved.
Speak up – and vote! Make your voice heard by writing to your local, state and federal representatives. Let them know that discrimination is unacceptable. There is no better way to express your opinion than voting – and this is a critical year. Gay rights will continue to be at the top of legislative issues. Last month, President Obama came out explicitly in favor of gay marriage after Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan also expressed unambiguous support. The candidates’ views on the subject have now been made clear to voters.
Volunteer or donate to a gay rights organization. Whether it’s dealing with suicide prevention, legal issues, health and wellness, education, aging or just basic support, organized groups of people and resources are powerful forces for change. In New York City there are countless organizations that provide support and advocacy for the LGBTQ population. They include the LGBT Community Center, which provides a wide range of support and advocacy services. PFLAG is for friends and families of lesbians and gays. SAGE focuses on elderly members of the community. GLAAD fights defamation. Callen Lorde provides medical services. The Ali Forney Center serves homeless LGBTQ youth – and these are just a few. Find the best fit for you and lend them a couple of hours of your time, or donate money to the cause.
This month is an occasion to reflect on the accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, as well as on the challenges that remain. It’s also a time to consider how we can all get along, by both acknowledging differences and finding commonalities.
As always, the MAP office is available to help in any way we can. Call us if you have questions, need information, or want to talk about your situation. Contact us at (212) 397-4802 or MAP@Local802afm.org for guidance and support.