Fewer than 100 individuals marched through the streets of downtown Providence in the first Pride march. It was 1976. State and city officials attempted to block the event, but after litigation ensued and a court ruling allowed the group to proceed, our state’s Pride organization began to form. It would be just six years later that the first issue of Options was published. Since their inceptions, Options and Rhode Island Pride have grown their missions, strategies, and services to fit the needs of the community. This year’s Pride march will draw over 30,000 people to the streets of downtown Providence on Saturday, June 18, and Options has chronicled 34 years of our community’s struggles and triumphs. We’ve come a long way since that first march, and we’re proud to have partnered with Rhode Island Pride on this issue, the official RI Pride Guide for the third consecutive year.
Options provides a platform for the voices in this community to be heard. We’ve challenged the status quo, and allowed individuals to push boundaries and explore the definition of the very community that we serve. LGBTQ people, for the most part, understand that our definition of ourselves cannot be static, but must instead view changes in our community with openness and acceptance, or at least with tolerance. With such a fluid community comprised of many institutions, individuals, and subcultures, where does the responsibility of leadership fall? Can any one organization claim to represent the LGBTQ community in our state?
As you turn these pages, you’ll find hundreds of organizations, businesses, and people mentioned in stories, our Resources section, and the calendar of events. With the flip of just a few pages, you’ll be exposed to an array of people from all walks of life: elected officials, drag queens, youth, religious leaders, moms, dads, executive directors, volunteers. This is our community. It is one that has been, and will continue to be, defined by the people who speak up, become engaged, and use their voices and platforms like Options to influence where we are heading.
More than ever before, individuals have the means to spread their messages to the masses. It’s easy to publicly voice your frustrations, but posting complaints on Facebook does little to move an organization, individual, or the community being criticized forward.
If you are not pleased with what you see, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re doing each day to bring progress to the LGBTQ community. This is a pivotal moment for us all, as organizations celebrate decades of accomplishments, and our community adapts to the current landscape. Where do you want us to go together? We here at Options know that much work remains.