The Pride Community Services Organization (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization) is disheartened to hear about the ruling of the Kentucky Court of Appeals that upheld the lower court’s ruling in support of Hands On Original’s discriminatory actions against our community. In this age of “alternative facts” and renewed efforts to roll back the protections that the LGBTQ+ community has fought so hard to secure, this is just another reminder that our community, along with many other marginalized communities across the nation, do not enjoy the freedoms that members of the mainstream culture take for granted every day.
Hands On Original’s position relies on the absurd argument that printing a T-Shirt with the number “5” on it with multi-colored circles and the words “Lexington Pride Festival” somehow promotes “homosexual activity” and that it is their right to censor that “speech.” However, this ruling is not about free speech, it is about how LGBTQ+ persons are treated in their communities every day, as second class citizens. This ruling is about the LGBTQ+ community’s right to exist openly and not be shoved back in to the closet by any means necessary. Today it is about a T-shirt, tomorrow it may be your, your child’s, your friend’s, or your neighbor’s ability to enjoy a night out to dinner with their same-sex partner.
This ruling sets a dangerous precedent for our community, and chips away at those ordinances that are in place to protect against such blatant discrimination. Over the next several days, the boards of the Pride Community Services Organization and the Lexington Human Rights Commission will have to make a decision about whether this ruling should be appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
On behalf of the Pride Community Services Organization, we thank you for your continued support on this long journey and trust that you will follow us wherever it may lead. We will not be deterred by this ruling! In our 40th year, we are more determined than ever to advance the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community.