The current climate is not a coincidence.

Casper Pride is a shared celebration of resilience and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit joy. Everything is washed in cheery rainbow flags and fun.

That festive atmosphere is customary for Pride celebrations, which serve as a reminder of the progress that’s been made since the 1969 Stonewall Riots. However, this year’s events also call attention to progress that’s being threatened. Since 2015, political attacks against LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people have grown exponentially in state legislatures. In 2024 alone, the ACLU has tracked more than 500 discriminatory bills targeting freedom of expression, the safety of transgender students and access to health care for gender dysphoria across the country.

The current climate is not a coincidence. We’re seeing the results of a carefully engineered battle trying to appear organic – although it’s anything but grassroots. The fearmongering against LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities is a result of a relentless, decades-long push by theocratic groups and affiliated billionaires and foundations.

It’s happening here in Wyoming, too. Lawmakers passed and Gov. Mark Gordon signed into law a bill banning life-saving gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. Gov. Gordon also allowed a bill that would require schools to “out” gay, transgender or gender-nonconforming youth to their parents to become law without his signature. These new laws represent a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life.

Our bodies have become battlegrounds for political gain and community division. Self-righteously equipped with falsehoods, ardent hypocrisy and the hollow determination to uphold the power structures they benefit from, politicians, pundits and the droves they incite through hate and bigotry now feel entitled to arbitrate human nature and what should constitute an individual’s being and medical care. Religion and morality are being manipulated to serve prejudicial, unconstitutional ends.

Because of that, LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit Wyomingites, particularly trans and gender nonconforming youth, no longer feel safe, seen or loved in our state. So now more than ever, we need to use our voices to protect and empower LGBTQ+ Wyomingites and to oppose future legislation just as loudly as we celebrate.

Fighting for the society we want means not only persuading government officials, but also making our society safer for and more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. To end discrimination, we must seek both to change the law and our societal norms to end discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Although we love a good party, Pride isn’t just about the parades, festivals and glitter. We must also be organizing, educating and pledging our time and efforts to the work of protecting our communities. After all, Pride is much more than just a festival. It’s also about creating spaces to celebrate what makes us unique outside of the Pride season.

After one hell of a legislative session in Wyoming and across the country, we know the fight for true equality is far from over. The ACLU will always fight for our right to determine our futures — but we can’t do it alone. Change in Wyoming isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will happen if we do it together. Pride started as a protest – and it still is inherently political. Dance in the streets, march with joy and never stop fighting! 


A version of this column also appeared in the Casper Star-Tribune.