In the United States we celebrate Pride Month during June, in commemoration of the Stonewall riots in 1969. Here’s how you can participate, get involved, and show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
This year the celebration of Pride month feels different than previous years as we navigate a global pandemic and a social movement against systematic racial injustice in the U.S. and across the world (click here to see my comments on that matter). However, the importance of recognizing, participating and supporting Pride stands as true as it did in 1969. Let’s dig in.
What is pride month and why do we celebrate it?
I’ve attended pride fest in a few different cities and each one has been more fun than the other. The joy, the positive energy, the outfits! My best friend from college, Tucker Hyde, introduced me to my first pride experience and I absolutely fell in love with it. As fun as the parties are, however, pride month means so much more than that.
A Little History on Pride Month
According to the Library of Congress, “… researchers can find planning documents, correspondence, flyers, ephemera and more from the very first Pride marches in 1970. This, the very first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to, “…commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse….from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws” (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, Franklin Kameny Papers).”
This is just the beginning. A few places to visit if you’d like to learn a little more history on LGBTQ+ rights are:
- This website on LGBTQ History by GLSEN
- This amazing podcast on Making Gay History
- This book on The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
- The State of Pride Documentary
Why We Celebrate Today
It’s easy to think that the discrimination the gay community went through in 1929 no longer exists today. After all, we’ve seen incredible progress on gay marriage rights, freedom of sexual orientation and nondiscrimination laws. Does that mean we’ve done enough? Absolutely not! Here are a few facts that will blow your mind:
- Did you know that in the United States there is no federal law protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity? In 28 of the 50 U.S. states there is no state-level protection for sexual orientation or gender identity. This means employees can be fired for being LGBT.
- One-fifth (20%) of LGBTQ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.
- It is estimated that 331 trans people were killed in 2019.
These facts — and many more if you run a simple Google search on sexual orientation discrimination — speak for themselves. Pride matters because we haven’t truly achieved equality, people are being rejected due to sexual orientation, and we’re fostering a culture of hate and shame, instead of a celebration of who we are.
I spoke with my friend Shari Allison, Program Manager at The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth in Miami, on why pride matters so much. “Pride month for me is a time to reflect on queer history and share space with community members. Pride parades give people hope and a sense of freedom,” Shari explained. “It is a great feeling to be out in the open expressing your queerness and being surrounded by love. People are free to express themselves without judgment. It is a celebration of who we are and a constant reminder that we must continue to fight for equality.”
How You Can Help
Understanding the hardship that the LGBTQ+ community has suffered allows us to be more empathetic, more inclusive, and more aware of our own preconceived stereotypes that make us part of the problem. My recommendation? Educate yourself, talk to people who might be going through something, listen to those who want to challenge you, be kind.
For those who want to continue being a part of the solution, here are a few resources I’m hoping will help:
- Understanding Heterosexism and How to Be an Ally
- Helping LGBTQ Students Feel Safe
- A Christian Conversation Guide
- It Gets Better Project
If you or a loved one are feeling discriminated, rejected, or in an unsafe place, please reach out to me. I’m here for you.
How are you and your brand supporting the social changes our world is seeing? Leave a comment below!
Love is love,