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Pride month comes around every June as a way to foster community and celebrate sexual diversity. It’s all about recognizing the impact that LGBTQIA+ individuals have had on their communities, and the world at large; so it can encourage appreciation of the ways in which these people experience the world around them. Pride events help those who are still figuring out their sexualities to step into their identities, and find joy and beauty in them.
Hannah Gadsby summed it up best in her Netflix special, Nanette, when she said, “Where are the quiet gays supposed to go?...the pressure on my people to express our identity and pride through the metaphor of party is very intense.” While Gadsby gave us all a chuckle, there are plenty of LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies who want to support and participate in LGBT events during Pride month, but find the most famous and widespread events like parades to be scenes they don’t feel comfortable in.
While Pride parades are the first event that people think of when they hear that Pride month is coming up, there are plenty of other ways for you to participate without having to attend any parades or parties.
Support LGBTQIA+ business owners.
One easy way you can participate in all that Pride stands for (without attending some massive event) is by supporting LGBT business owners. Not only is your money supporting an individual and their business, but you’re supporting the space that the business, and its owner, has in your community. You’re also supporting a space that is LGBT-friendly as well, which is extremely important no matter where in the world you find yourself. Everybody needs a sense of community, and finding others who have similar experiences to your own is incredibly validating.
Whether you’re shopping at a small retailer for everyday goods, picking up the Ina Wave to help help your favorite same-sex couple get a little adventurous in the bedroom, or buying swag from a company who has pledged to donate to LGBTQIA+ groups, you really can’t go wrong by putting your money where your mouth is.
Explore all of the options available in your area.
While Pride festivals nearly always have a parade, the larger festivals in major cities should have lots of other events to attend. For example, in New York City this year, there are panels on the status of LGBT individuals in publishing, and the status of LGBT human rights around the world. There are talks about fashion, movie screenings, rooftop parties, mural projects, musical performances, bicycle races, cosplay events, marches, and even “sober” events, meant particularly for those recovering from any kind of addiction. Explore all of the options available in your area, and see if there are any events that spark your interest!
Go to Drag Shows and Gay Bars.
On top of those less obvious ideas though, not only are drag shows and gay bars fun opportunities to laugh and meet new people, they’re also great opportunities to support the artistry of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole! Drag queens have always been associated with the LGBT community because of the boundaries between gender that they cross when they’re dressed or are performing in drag. Beyond being entertaining though, drag performers can encourage you to connect to your sexuality in a way you might not have previously thought to do, as their experiences expressing their sexuality and their bodies in those moments are so empowering, fluid, and fulfilling.
Follow LGBT activists on social media.
Social media provides a unique opportunity to people involved in activist work that those of the past did not have. Nowadays, activism can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time. While marches and rallies are still important parts of activists’ work, the audience for any single in-person event can now grow exponentially in size as people show up on social media showing their support for a cause. By following activists on social media, you’re not only supporting their work, but you’re also likely to learn a lot from their posts. For example, RainDoveModel has done a lot of work to bring light to gender-fluidity. Chellaman, for instance, has been using social media to document his transition. LGBT_History posts every day to educate their followers about important dates and important people in history who stood for LGBT rights from the US, and around the world. Companies like LELO, on the other hand, educate people on safe sex practices, the wide-encompassing range of gender fluidity, and how people in the LGBTQIA+ community can just be themselves.
Donate to or volunteer at places that support LGBTQIA+ community.
We don’t want to assume that just because the US has achieved marriage equality that there is no longer any work left to do, and you don’t want to limit your scope to just the US either. In other places around the world, it’s still deeply frowned upon, or even illegal, for anyone to have a homosexual relationship. During Pride month, you can look out for work being done to help LGBT individuals in other countries, and you can find out what you can do in order to support those efforts.
You can also participate in and support Pride initiatives by donating to, or buying products from, nonprofit organizations. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in particular is an LGBTQ civil rights organization, and aims to advocate for equality while educating the public about LGBTQ issues. There are plenty of other organizations like the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the Trevor Project, the Gill Foundation, and the It Gets Better Project, among many others, that could use your support.
Support local LGBTQIA+ artists.
Musicians, visual artists, authors, and poets come in all shades of the rainbow, and seeking out these individuals and supporting their art is something that will be greatly appreciated by all these people. By buying a piece of art, supporting a record, or buying a ticket to the show, you’ll be doing the LGBTQIA+ community a service by showing your support to ventures that support them. You’re also likely to find artwork of all mediums that resonate with you, whether you’re LGBT-identifying or just an ally.
If you’re a bookworm or a walking IMDB, compile a list of all the books or movies that you’ve always meant to read or watch, and take the time to binge-consume them in the month of June. To get you going, you could read Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathon, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, or you could watch Moonlight, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, or Milk (I’d recommend beginning with Milk). Viewing and reading any of these stories will help you understand the plight that LGBTQIA+ individuals, and the overall community, still struggles with today.
Museums and exhibits are also great ways to show your Pride, and educating yourself about the history of struggle to gain LGBT rights is a fantastic way to start. Pride, is a celebration of how far LGBT-identifying individuals have come, but it should also be a time of gratitude for all that the important LGBT figures in history did to achieve the marriage equality that we have in the US today. And, by more thoroughly understanding the work that they did, you can further understand what work there is still left to do, and how you can take steps forward to contribute to those causes if you feel the call to do so.
There’s actually an exhibit at the NYPL called Love & Resistance running through June, which details the history of the Stonewall Riots. If you’re in the NYC area, why not see what it's about?
Spend time with those you love.
Or, if your favorite same-sex couple has an anniversary coming up, the Tiani 2 might be more closely suited to something they would both enjoy. Even doing something nice, like taking a friend that identifies as LGBTQIA+ to dinner, can do wonders for their mood, and show them that you’re really there to support them no matter what. Pride is about celebrating LGBT identities and experiences, and equality for all people.
Ultimately, in order to celebrate Pride month, the only requirement is that you feel Pride, or at least try to, depending on where you are in your LGBT journey. Pride is about celebrating the community of individuals who have had to step outside of mainstream society, and recognize that their lives could not look like how everyone else might want them to look. Pride is about owning that fact, and realizing the beauty in being different, and having a unique perspective; but really, it’s about celebrating love, regardless of what that looks like for you.