Dear editor,

This letter is in regards to “Pride Month” as it affects Marathon County.

Let me start by saying I am a gay male, 22 years of age. I was almost raised in Wausau, being my favorite place to visit family growing up! I ended up moving there for awhile, and found that Wausau can be pretty great when you call it home.

Pride Month has been around for a few years now. And I’ve never seen such backlash until this year. I would like to take a second to educate all readers, even those who may be LGBT. Why do we have Pride Month? Why isn’t there a Straight Pride Month? My answer to this is simple, and hits home hard.

Pride is almost not a suitable name for our month. Being part of the LGBT community is not something very many are actual proud of. Calling it Pride lightens the dark history surrounding the LGBT community. Pride Month is not a month to celebrate, to be flashy, or seek attention. Pride Month is a month of remembrance, community, and hope for the future. We remember all those who have fallen. All of the countless murders by people of straight orientation that were carried out on the sole fact that someone identified as LGBT. Even today we are being slain by the hundreds, in the world combined, some still in our home country.

This month is a remembrance of our journey, our long and painful journey. All of the tears and violence. All of the hurt and permanent emotional scars we are left to bear. We remember, and we mourn.

We combat this by coming together as one, one unit to find safety and comfort in community. Where we mourn our lost, and seek hope for the future! We celebrate not being gay, but that the future is bright and sunny ahead, so long as we continue to seek comfort in one another throughout our month! And that also touches on hope. Pride Month is a month of hope. Hope for a better world for LGBT people one day. A future where no person may face the pain we have, the bullying and beatings, or to be slain for no reason other than who we love! Pride Month is not a month of celebration. It’s a month of strength, not only for us but for all of our straight allies who fight the hard fight side by side. It’s not a month of division, it’s a month of inclusion.

Let me ask you this, for those curious as to why we are “special.” As a straight member of the Wausau community, have you ever heard of a straight person being murdered, just for the sole sake of being straight? Have you ever faced countless bullies, or heartache from family where they disown you completely, for the sole sake of being straight? The answer is not surprisingly, “No”. You cannot question why we have Pride Month, and you do not, for the reason that you have not fought the fight we have. You have not been murdered by us, because you were born to be straight. You were not bullied for your sexual orientation, and you do not have the emotional scars serving a stinging, consistent reminder that you are straight and you constantly face the hatred of others because of it.

Pride Month is important for many reason. A month to remember, a month of community, and a month of hope. It is not a month to seek attention, or draw importance away from others either! It’s about inclusion, not division. So long as we have to fight, there will forever be our month. Whether you agree with it or not, we will be there joining hands and marching as one unit. You cannot silence it, and we invite you to join! Help us to continue to educate, find strength, and conquer hate with the very thing that separates us from you. Our love.

Please, if you’re struggling with Marathon County accepting Pride Month as an official month, find it in your heart to remember this. And please do the right thing! Marathon County should help us remember, come together, and hope for the future.

Josh Schmirler

Editor’s note: The views of our readers and guest columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email us at editor@wausaupilotreview-newspack.newspackstaging.comor mail letters to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8; Wausau, WI 54403.