I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Oslo Pride last night, which consisted of a panel discussion and a big party afterwards. Being the old lady that I am, I stayed for the politics and left before the party. I really love that aspect to Pride here. It isn’t this booze filled, all night, crazy party. It’s organized around actual political progression for the LGBTI community, both domestically and globally.

I learned so much about the Syrian refugee crisis. I sat in on more political debates today and the first panel I attended was all about gay men who had fled the Middle East in search of a safe place. One man who had gone from Syria to Jordan to Egypt and finally Turkey talked about his fear and belief that he had a sickness instead of a sexual preference. He spoke openly about the six years he spent in intensive therapy, trying to “cure the gay.” His therapists tried everything from electroshock therapy to hypnosis. He spoke about one session where his therapist had him watch a pornographic film until he was almost ready to ejaculate and then would show him photos of his father. It was heartbreaking.

This aspect to Oslo Pride puts such a real and connective face to how far the LGBTI community still has to go in their struggle for equality. In order for progress to be made, their struggle must become our struggle. Solidarity mustn’t be shown only when one’s own personal convictions are under attack, but when there is an attack on any minority, any race, any sexuality, any religion. Solidarity is a verb. Action is required of us all.