“There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.” Tammy Baldwin, Senator for the USA, Millennium March for Equality.
What is PRIDE?
We’ve all heard the word Pride, we’ve seen the colours, the celebrity endorsements, the social media posts, the parades and celebrations. But Pride Month, it’s purpose and what it stands for, is so much more!
Pride month is when the world's LGBTQIA+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. Pride month is about teaching acceptance, education in pride history, and continuing to move forward in equality. Pride is about visibility and community. It's all about being proud of who you are no matter who you love.
LGBTQIA+ is seen as an inclusive and accepting way to refer to the queer community and those people who don’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender. LGBTQIA+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or Queer, Intersex and Asexual. The plus sign is used to encompass all other self-identifying people not represented in the acronym and recognise the diversity of self-identities and sexual orientations. For those of you who may want to learn a little more about each of these terms, we have put together an ABCs of LGBTQIA+ guide at the end of this blog!
On June 28, 1969, the New York Police raided the Stonewall inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village, New York City. This raid sparked a riot between police, employees and customers and resulted in six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement. The following year, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first Pride parade set off from Stonewall and stretched over 15 city blocks with its thousands of supporters. The Stonewall Riots are considered to be a pivotal catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
Why is Pride important?
“A lot of people were very repressed, they were conflicted internally, and didn't know how to come out and be proud. That's how the movement was most useful, because they thought, 'Maybe I should be proud.’” Lee Craig Schoonmaker, Gay Rights Activist and US Politican.
Pride is about communities coming together in celebration, protest, unity and solidarity. For any person struggling with their identity, pride month gives them an opportunity to see a community they can identify with, living their truth.
There is no denying that no matter how many positive steps forward have been taken worldwide, the experiences of LGBTQIA+ and straight people are still different and many people within the community still face stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination due to their sexuality.
A recent study by Stonewall UK found that over the previous 2019/2020 year:
Half of LGBTQIA+ people had experienced depression and three in five had experienced anxiety
One in eight LGBTQIA+ people aged 18-24 had attempted to end their life
Almost half of trans people had thought about taking their life.
Violent crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are on the increase, many hate crimes and hate incidents go unreported. Stonewall estimates over 80% of hate crimes and hate incidents against LGBTQIA+ people go unreported.
Research has also shown that the LGBTQ+ community is less likely to seek treatment for an eating disorder, a mental health disorder, or a substance abuse disorder due to fear of rejection and discrimination.
Pride month is about raising awareness of all of these issues, and encouraging those outside of the community to educate themselves on the struggles the LGBTQIA+ community face, as well as educate themselves on the basics of gender identity and expression.
Educating yourself on the language people use to self identify, may seem like a small step, but it can make a phenomenal difference to the lives of those around you. Research by The Trevor Project on ‘Gender-Affirming Care for Youth’ showed that the usage of chosen names resulted in a 29% decrease in suicidal ideation and a 56% decrease in suicidal behaviour.
What does Pride mean to you?
What’s apparent is that Pride means something very individual to everyone depending on their own journey and experience. We asked our community what Pride meant to them, and here are some of their responses.
"I’ve been emotionally and verbally abused before in a relationship because I’m asexual. So Pride Month to me, hopefully, means more people will have awareness of LGBTQIA and educate themselves on sexual orientations that they might not otherwise have any understanding of so that they are more empathetic towards people who are different than me."
"It means I am able to show my pride for who I am because of those who rioted for us."
"It’s a sign that good exists in this world and that’s what’s worth fighting for."
"As a reminder that a black bisexual trans SW is a reason we have pride month and rights. That because of her, I can marry my boyfriend!"
"It is just one in a number of steps to full equality for LGBTQIAA+ and they are close to achieving this but have hardly begun in almost all of Africa, the Middle East and Asia."
"To me, Pride Month isn’t a celebration, it's a sign to fight harder to make changes, to keep us safe. To create an environment where everyone can be safe."
"It means a safer world for everyone, for my sister especially."
How can you be involved as an ally?
While Pride Month is the festival of the LGBTQIAA+ community, it’s a wonderful time for people from all backgrounds to join together and celebrate diversity and support their LGBTQIAA+ family, friends and colleagues.
1. Understand the true meaning of Pride. Reading this blog is a great first step! Check out our ABCs of LGBTQIA+ guide at the end of this blog. Take time to research the history of the celebration before taking part in it. Do what you can to ensure you're well-informed and can be a responsible and respectful participant. A resource we would love to recommend is this guide put together by The Trevor Project.
2. Recognise your privilege, and use that privilege for good! Identifying as heterosexual and/or cisgender, you may have never really had to be concerned for your safety when holding hands with your partner in public, or when simply being visible in your gender. This is something that the LGBTQIA+ community deals with on a daily basis, even at a celebration like Pride. If you feel brave enough, challenge any hateful opposition that may appear at these events so that your LGBTQIA+ friends and peers don't have to. If you aren't comfortable doing that, at least check on your LGBTQIA+ friends who may be impacted by any bigotry. Research by The Trevor Project has shown that each episode of LGBT victimisation, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behaviour by 2.5 times on average.
3. Join the party, every day! Don’t just show up on Pride Month for the celebrations. Invest in the struggle of the community and show up to support wherever you can. Do your research on political candidates that don’t support equality agendas, sign petitions, call out homophobia or transphobia when you see it.
4. Take accountability if you offend someone. While we rarely intend to hurt others, common mistakes such as forgetting a person’s pronouns, using their birth name instead of their chosen name, or misgendering a person can hurt feelings or even put another person’s safety at risk. Listen to the person you have offended, apologise without making excuses or invalidating the other person’s feelings, and show you care by doing better. We are all human, and we all make mistakes!
5. Help lift the community up. The main role of a straight/cisgender ally at Pride and beyond is to lift up the community in celebration and solidarity while helping clear space for LBGTQIA+ to be themselves.
The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+
People often use LGBT+ to mean all of the communities included in the “LGBTTTQQIAA”. Here is a glossary of some of the community terms, thanks to Stonewall UK.
Lesbian - Lesbian is the term for a gay woman, meaning a woman, woman-aligned or feminine-aligned person who is attracted to women, woman-aligned or feminine-aligned people.
Gay - Refers to a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Bisexual - Someone who is attracted to people of their gender or other gender identities. Bi people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, bisexual, pan, queer, and some other non-monosexual and non-monoromantic identities.
Trans (Transgender/Transexual) - An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender man is a term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. Transgender woman is a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid and non-binary. Someone who is transgender may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation.
Queer - Queer is a term used by those wanting to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc). Although some LGBT people view the word as a slur, it was reclaimed in the late 80s by the queer community who have embraced it.
Questioning - The process of exploring your own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Intersex - A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary. The term intersex isn’t to be confused with transgender, although it is very possible for someone to be intersex and identify as transgender.
Ace - An umbrella term used specifically to describe experiences of a lack of, varying, or occasional experiences of sexual attraction. This encompasses asexual people as well as those who identify as demisexual and grey-sexual.
Ally - A (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.
Pansexual - Refers to a person whose romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by sex or gender.
Non-Binary - An individual who exists somewhere along the spectrum of gender, whether between male and female or outside of the gender binary as a whole. Non-binary individuals may use terms like gender non-conforming, agender, bigender, and more to describe themselves.