In case you didn't know how the whole idea of Pride and Pride Month came to be, I'm going to give you a bit of a history lesson before getting into this article.
The LGBTQ+ rights movement was born out of the June 28, 1969 Stonewall riots, after New York police raided the Greenwich Village gay bar, arresting and assaulting its patrons, many of whom were queer people of color. Thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community took to the streets to protest this discrimination in an attempt to call for equality. Over the next several nights, gay activists continued to gather near the Stonewall, taking advantage of the moment to spread information and build the community that would fuel the growth of the gay rights movement. Though police officers also returned, the mood was less confrontational.
Over fifty years later and we're still dedicating a month to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Some outside of the community might question why Pride gets a whole month or why it has to be such a loud movement. But I'm here to provide some insight.
First of all, the choice to love whoever you want is not yet legal worldwide. Many countries (including some states in the U.S.) still have a negative view on homosexuality and believe it to be wrong. To many of us, it seems so simple: you should be able to love who you love. But the unfortunate reality is that it's still a topic of debate.
When I think about why Pride is so important - I think about LGBTQ+ youth. Especially during the pandemic, LGBTQ+ youth have suffered more than ever. Many have felt isolated from friends, the community, and people that made them feel accepted. I can't imagine what it would be like for a young person having to lock down in a household that refuses to accept them for who they are.
Even before COVID-19 LGBTQ+ youth were at higher risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse. These increased risks stem from elevated rates of rejection, discrimination, and victimization. During the pandemic, risks were made worse by the loss of relationships in schools, clubs, or other community venues where LGBTQ youth found support.
"Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, a psychiatrist at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a New York City-based LGBTQ youth organization, reported that youth members of the institute are looking for more frequent counseling sessions. According to her, there were at least one-third more requests for initial psychiatry visits during 2020 than during the same period in 2019". - Psychiatric Times
It's definitely easier to come out now than it was, say, 20 years ago. People have access to more communities, online groups, and information to make them feel supported. Parents and caregivers also have more information on how to help and support their children that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. All of that is because of the awareness that movements like Pride Month generate.
Continuing to generate awareness, whether it's through community movements, brand campaigns or even notable celebrities and influencers speaking out, does so much to help further the cause. These consistent actions day by day is what will eventually create a safe space for all.
The goal of Pride Month isn't to rebel or throw anything in anyone's face. It's to build community, generate awareness, and share information, in hopes of creating an equal and accepting atmosphere for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.