It was emblazoned across my self-designed t-shirt for all to see. The back of the shirt had a rainbow fetus with “conceived this way” above it. I felt like we stuck out like sore thumbs. I mean, I guess I always have sort of felt like I don’t quite fit in. LGBTQIA+ pro-lifers don’t quite fit the stereotype of either label: as mainstream queer politics has skewed left (and many LGBTQIA+ leaders have spoken in support of abortion), mainstream pro-life politics has been tied to homophobic and transphobic ideologies and politicians. We’re in a strange spot.
So on that exhausted Saturday morning, after driving 19 hours during the prior 24, I wasn’t really sure what we were going to arrive to on Liberty Ave. Thanks to the generosity of folks from Secular Pro-Life, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and Democrats for Life, we had a crew of queer Pittsburgh pro-lifers who worked together to host a table at Pittsburgh Pridefest. The fun was already in full swing when I finally made it down to our table.
We had a sign that read, “Who deserves equality?” with marginalized groups of LGBTQIA+ humans listed -- we surveyed Pridefest attendees on their thoughts and had some good, productive conversations with dozens upon dozens of people using that tool. Almost everyone surveyed said, “Well, of course EVERYONE deserves equality!” We all cheered because that’s what we’re about: every human being has inherent equality simply because of their immutable humanity. Even gay men tortured in Russia, even a queer disabled person, even transgender prisoners of war, even the intersex fetus.
At the table, we gave away free goodie bags with fun items and educational pamphlets. We had our shirts on display, and we had a petition to call for an end the abuse, torture, and killings of LGBTQIA+ people in Chechnya. We got hundreds of petition signatures, and more than 150 people signed up for our email list. At first we were a little shocked at how well we were being received, but during the course of the day we had so many people tell us things like, “I am so glad that you are here. I thought I was the only one.” And others told us, “We are made to feel so alone [in LGBTQIA+ circles and in pro-life circles]. People assume that because I’m gay I must be pro-choice. Thank you for being here.”
Though we were yelled at on a couple occasions by some pro-choice people, and one of our signs was stolen and smashed, and I was spat upon by someone walking by -- at the end of the day, our reach was phenomenal. And in the end, our message was quite well-received! Folks loved our creative shirts, and most appreciated our calm and peaceful spirit.
One couple came up to the table as we were getting ready to pack up. They shocked me with their frankness, “People always talkin’ about ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice.’ They expect me to be pro-choice, but I say: in abortion, the baby don’t have no choice!” It just goes to show: there’s a sizable portion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, queer community that believes in the intrinsic right to life, from conception to natural death. And I think the pro-life movement has a lot to learn about the necessity of radical inclusivity in building movements. If we want to bring an end to the violence that is abortion, we need everyone to stand with us, to believe in the principles of equality, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence towards all. We need to make sure that queer folks like myself have a welcoming hand extended towards them, have representation in the leadership of our millions-strong movement, and have spaces wherein their worth as human is affirmed as they work for the life and dignity of every human being.
Looking back, it was such a gift to be around thousands of people who didn’t judge me for my sexuality; but it was even more of a gift to be able to share what matters most to me, the Consistent Life Ethic, with those who, queer like me, share the same struggle against judgment and discrimination in our modern world. I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m going to work tirelessly to bring an end to abortion and all acts of violence against humanity.