On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Riots began in New York City. These riots sparked equal rights movements for the LGBTQ community, which later marked June as Pride Month. But the fight isn’t over!
To this day, the LGBTQ community continues to fight for rights and equality. Nationwide marriage equality is a more recent victory, and one of the historical events that changed America for the better. However, various forms of discrimination still run rampant for the LGBTQ community.
Whether you’re an ally or a member of the LGBTQ community, it’s important to offer support to the people around you, especially when you have the ability to make a difference.
Hit the books
If you’re not a member of the LGBTQ community, or don’t know much about what Pride Month is about, that’s OK! There are numerous resources available to not only teach you about the community, but also how to support those in it.
Research is important so you not only understand Pride, but also so you can be a better ally. Miscommunication and assumptions can lead to saying or doing something harmful unintentionally.
Things such as using the wrong pronouns, or assuming someone’s sexual orientation because of the way they look or dress, can do damage. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel if someone called you “Sir” when you identify as a woman.
These are just a couple of examples of what some people in the LGBTQ community deal with every day.
Don’t just walk the walk — talk the talk
If you’re well-versed with the LGBTQ community, use your knowledge for good. If you’re comfortable with speaking out, do it. Gay and trans jokes aren’t funny, and calling someone gay in a derogatory fashion is homophobic.
If you laugh or choose to do nothing about this kind of treatment, you’re also enabling the unacceptable behavior.
An ally helps create safe environments for those they support. There are many ways you can do this, but one of the most proactive ones is to either help stop bullying and harassment, or be there for others when it happens.
Depression and suicide rates are higher among individuals in the LGBTQ community, especially for those who are rejected by family or feel they do not have a support group. Allies help their friends and peers by reminding them they’re not alone and providing them with a support group to back them up.
Go to a parade
If you haven’t been to a Pride parade, you need to go this year.
Pride parades are a fabulous mix of people-watching and joy! There are floats, drag queens, Dykes on Bikes, music, food and rainbows galore.
Alcohol is also quite common. Homosexuality and dressing in drag were illegal during Prohibition, which made speakeasies a place to gather and remain underground to avoid persecution. After Prohibition, bars remained a safe place to dress in drag and dance for the LGBTQ community.
This culture has carried over into current times, making alcohol a staple in the Pride parade — the after-parties in the bars are almost as much fun as the parade.
LGBTQ Netflix and chill
If parades and parties aren’t your thing, a movie night is a fun way to get in the spirit of Pride Month.
Whether you want to educate yourself or celebrate Pride, there’s something for everyone out there looking for an LGBTQ-themed film.
Don’t know who Harvey Milk is? Check out Milk. It’s a fantastic, and historically accurate, movie about California’s first openly gay politician.
If you want something focused on the lesbian community, The L Word is a TV series from Showtime that focuses on a group of lesbian friends living in Los Angeles. It touches on marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one when gay marriage wasn’t legal and a woman named Shane everyone is attracted to for at least five minutes.
Transgender movies are honestly usually sad, but Boys Don’t Cry is a must see. For drag and some trans culture, Paris Is Burning is a classic. It’s a documentary that talks about ball culture, and living as a transwoman. Be warned — this one also doesn’t necessarily have a totally happy ending, but it’s an eye-opening documentary for sure.
Take a road trip
If you have the time and money, visit a place that has some significant LGBTQ history. Go to New York City and visit Stonewall Inn. Or, go to the Castro in San Francisco, where they still post flyers for Harvey Milk’s birthday to this day… plus the roads are Roy G. Biv.
When you visit a place where people celebrate LGBTQ culture outwardly, you can have fun and learn more about the community, while gaining a new appreciation for Pride Month.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, remember those who fought for equal rights, and be one of those who still does. But also, remember that you can drink to the good times. We’ve made a ton of progress, and will only continue to do so if we all show our support and pride.