June is Pride month and serves as an important date in the calendar for many LGBTQ++ persons across the country, and it can be particularly poignant for those of us in Orlando as June 12th is the Anniversary of the Pulse tragedy. As such, I wanted to write about why Pride is important and to provide some basic information about the history of Pride.
You may have seen some of the memes floating around about how the original Pride was a “riot.” Some may miss the meaning of this double entendre and mistake it as a simple joke about having a good time. The reality is that Pride began at the Stonewall Riots in New York after a series of harassing altercations between the police force and the patrons at the Stonewall Inn. After suffering enough indignation, Marsha Johnson, a now famous Black, Queer activist/Queen, led patrons and neighborhood residents to the street in a protest which went on for 6 days and included violent clashes with law enforcement. While I am not a historian, this is, generally, considered to be the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. Since then, LGBTQ++ people have been working to receive equal treatment across society and we’ve made a lot of progress – though there is much left to be completed.
Many municipalities and state governments offer no protection for LGBTQ++ people who can be fired, refused housing, or other public accommodations simply for the sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. LGBTQ++ people still experience increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts/attempts due to the social constraints and the pain of growing up different in a very straight world. These outcomes become even worse when we look at people who hold multiple minority identities. We are currently living in an era where Trans members of the military are being discharged for their gender identity, LGBTQ++ couples are being refused adoption services, or not having their adopted families treated with the same dignity and respect as straight couples.
This is what Pride is meant to celebrate. It isn’t a big party that is thrown simply BECAUSE people are LGBTQ++, but in order to celebrate all that they have overcome and will continue to struggle against. It is an amazing opportunity for LGBTQ++ and their Allies to come together to celebrate all that Queer folx have to offer society, to celebrate the strides we have made as a society, and to rejuvenate themselves for the on-going efforts in reaching equality.
I would encourage you all to tap into your fabulous, glammed-out, campy selves and celebrate the beautiful diversity which surrounds us all. Maybe pick up a book on the history of LGBTQ++ culture which has been so often erased. Consider donating to an organization (like the HRC) who is working to make the world a little more fair for LGBTQ++ people. However you decide to celebrate – know that you are wonderfully made just as you are and learning to be your amazing self (while difficult) is a life-long journey which brings the sweetest rewards!
If you are struggling in finding your own reason to celebrate Pride, find yourself struggling to celebrate yourself, or need some additional support navigating sexuality or gender identity concerns, please reach out to our office and one of our compassionate and caring therapists would be happy to assist!
Daniel Garner-Quintero, LMHCLicensed Mental Health Counselor