Despite Challenges for LGBTQ+ Community, Signs of Progress Deserve Attention


Owen Hurcum

Owen Hurcum, elected mayor of Bangor, Wales, at the age of 23, is believed to be the first openly non-binary mayor in the world.

Although the LGBTQ+ community has had its challenges, there’s definitely been a lot of progress, even through 2021. Members of the community are seeing more acceptance and finally getting more representation and rights. No longer battling so much discrimination can make people’s lives much easier. 

Before getting into the positive developments, it’s important to stay educated about the current issues the community is facing. On June 1st, the first day of Pride Month, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” Although by the name it may seem to benefit women, it’s actually harming them. This law means transgender women can no longer compete in sports as women; they must compete as men. It still allows transgender men to play in men’s sports, however. DeSantis believes cisgender women will lose out on scholarships or other athletic opportunities if transgender women play on women’s sports teams; this is because he believes transgender women will have an advantage over cisgender women, assuming they will have superior physical strength because of their biological sex. Although this makes no sense, as everyone’s body is different and a person’s sex does not equal their gender, sadly this is and idea DeSantis is promoting. 

At the same time, though, there are a lot of positive things going on in the community also. On May 10th, in Bangor, Whales, 23-year-old Owen Hurcum became the first ever openly non-binary person to be elected mayor. “When I came out two years ago I was so worried I’d be ostracized by my community or worse,” Hurcum tweeted. “Today my community elected me Mayor of our great City. The youngest ever Mayor in Wales. The first ever openly Non-Binary Mayor of any city anywhere. Beyond humbled.” This is a huge milestone for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s very difficult to see any type of representation anywhere, especially in politics. Hurcum goes by they/them pronouns and identifies as nonbinary, genderqueer and agender. Before being elected mayor they worked as a councillor for five years. They also helped organize the first ever Pride in Bangor, back in 2019. Hurcum was also only 23 years old at the time of the election, making them the youngest mayor in Bangor’s history. They are also a role model for many transgender and nonbinary people across the world, who rarely see enough representation. To see a leader with a gender identity that is not commonly accepted is a huge step in the right direction.

During the Trump Administration, the federal government banned transgender people from serving openly in the military. Thankfully, as of January 25, 2021, that ban has been lifted by the Biden Administration. Transgender people are now allowed to serve their country in the military for the first time since 2016. The government is also in the process of finding a way to let transgender people transition while serving. In 2011, people that experience attraction to the same gender were first allowed to openly serve in the military. Then, in 2013, family and spouse benefits were opened up to couples of the same gender. This shows that the United States is opening up to new ideas and becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. 

There are many Pride events going on this summer, especially with Pride Month in June. One, which is called “One City One Pride 2021,” takes place in West Hollywood. This is an art festival that celebrates work from LGBTQ+ artists; it starts May 22th and ends June 30th. San Diego also has a Pride parade that runs from July 10th to July 18th, with floats and festival activities. You can find more information by clicking this link.

Although there’s a lot going on in the world right now, make sure to spare some time for yourself and maybe even go to a Pride event. There’s been a lot of progress within the LGBTQ+ community recently, even during the pandemic, and that’s something to celebrate. The progress that has been made will only continue. Representation and rights within the community are very important and could have a big impact on how people react to the LGBTQ+ community. If you are within the LGBTQ+ community (including those questioning) and ever feel lonely or suicidal and need someone to talk to, there is a helpline made specifically for the community by The Trevor Project. Feel free to call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678.  More resources are available at The Trevor Project’s website.  All of these resources offer trained counselors and are available 24/7. Having so many resources open to LGBTQ+ people is one more sign of how much the world has grown.