As residents within the city of Susanville reel from the recent hate-crime vandalism at Lassen Family Services and some governmental entities across the nation move against the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, a proclamation by the Susanville City Council yesterday makes it official — June is Pride Month within the city of Susanville. The council also made a similar proclamation last year.
Susanville Mayor Quincy McCourt, clad in a rainbow shirt, read the proclamation to a packed house of mostly Pride Month supporters at the Susanville City Council’s Wednesday, June 7 meeting.
According to the proclamation designating June as Pride Month, “Whereas all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals have had immeasurable impact to the cultural, civic and economic successes of our country,” and “the city of Susanville is committed to supporting visibility, dignity and equality for the 2SLGBTQ+AI people in our community,” and “while society at large increasing supports the 2SLGBTQ+AI community, equality is essential to acknowledge that the need for education and awareness remains vital to end discrimination and prejudice,” and, “this nation was founded on the principles that every individual has infinite dignity and worth, and the city council calls up the people of this municipality to embrace this principle and work to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists.”
McCourt said, “Celebrating Pride Month influences awareness and provides support and advocacy for the city of Susanville’s 2SLGBTQ+AI community, and is an opportunity to take action and engage in dialog to strengthen alliances, build acceptance and advance equal rights.”
Those in attendance loudly applauded the declaration from the city council.
Members of the public addressed the council during public comment under business for the floor, on a variety of related topics including the Lassen Library District, a minister addressing the fear some gay people in our community face, and the vandalism at Lassen Family Services.
Local LGBTQ+ advocate Jacob Hibbitts addressed the issue head on.
“The work you have done to make this community better is inspiring,” Hibbitts said. “The fact that we have what I assume to be a council full of straight people who are willing to step up, are willing to speak up, not because it benefits them, but because they know it’s right. I want to thank you for jumping into this.”
Hibbitts said the recent hate-crime vandalism at Lassen Family Services, “scared the hell out of all of us. I had to beg lot of people to come (to today’s march to city hall) because they were afraid it was going to escalate, that someone’s going to pull a gun on us. We had people yelling slurs at us the whole time, the whole time we were marching, from the time we were at Roop’s Fort setting up, to the time we were up here. And I’m sure you heard it. That happens, sometimes for some of us on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes it’s from a car. Sometimes it’s in the middle of a grocery store.
“If me or my husband wear something that looks out of place for what a guy’s supposed to be, we get looks. People peer into our souls, telling us that they hate us, trying to intimidate us, trying to scare us out of this town … We are here. Yes, we are queer, and you’re probably going to have to get used to that because we’re going to continue being born. We’re going to keep being born.”
Hibbitts recounted his experience as a gay high school graduate in Chester in 2004 where he was “called the F slur, shoved, hit, spat on, kicked, intimidated with a vehicle — these are things children are going through. Don’t turn a blind eye to them. Do not turn a blind eye because you are leaving them behind if you do. I’m grateful, and I’m inspired today. We have a roomful of people despite the fears that some people in this community may bring … You can tell us to go to San Francisco all you want, but I’m telling you, I cannot afford the rent. So, I’m going to make it here. I’m staying here. This place will get more gay because we’re here. It’s not because we’re making people gay. Right? It’s like left-handedness. Beforehand, almost a century ago, very few people were lefthanded. Why? Because it was socially unacceptable to be lefthanded. And now we see a huge group of people who are (lefthanded). That’s the same thing with the queer community. We’re not seen, we’re not visible because we’re shoved in the closet. We didn’t put ourselves there. The community did.
“And so now I’m 30-something years old living in Susanville, married for almost eight years. I’m grateful to have this place … Without community, we suffer. So, thank you for creating that community for us. Thank you for co-creating that with our community.”