One of the most celebratory and vivacious months of the year is finally upon us- Pride Month! Each June, the world comes together to uplift, celebrate, honor and support the LGBTQ+ community in various ways. From colorful, cabaret shows, art exhibits and raucous celebrations across major cities around the globe to solemn ceremonies honoring the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community in the face of discrimination, violence and bigotry, there are many ways to educate, celebrate and be of service to the community this month and beyond. Below we share with you 10 ways to show your PRIDE!
1. Learn about the Stonewall Uprising & LGBTQ+ History
The 1950s and 1960s were a very homophobic time in the United States due to oppressive and marginalizing campaigns at the federal, state, regional and local levels which portrayed gay, lesbian and transgender individuals as dangerous and/or with mental illnesses. Because of this, the LGBTQ+ community was tirelessly subjected to harassment, abuse, violence and discrimination within a heteronormative society. Despite these facts, LGBTQ+ individuals were able to find some refuge in New York City gay bars and clubs and by the mid-1960s, the Greenwich Village neighborhood became a hub for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community.
At that time, most of the gay bars and clubs in NYC were owned by mafia families like the Genovese crime family. This unlikely connection between the mafia and the LGBTQ+ community came to be due to profiteering on behalf of these crime families which helped to fill a large need for the LGBTQ+ community. You see, the State Liquor Authority would revoke or suspend liquor licenses from establishments that served openly gay, lesbian or trans patrons in New York. Because of this, mafia families, like the Genovese family, saw profit in running gay bars and clubs and were up for the risk. In order to dodge getting their liquor licenses revoked or suspended, the crime families would run their establishments under the guise of being a “private bottle club”, paying off and bribing the police for their secrecy. This unexpected relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and the mafia seemed symbiotic in a way, but it must be noted that it was unfortunately not the studio 54 experience that you may be picturing it to be. Gay clubs, like the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village, had poor sanitation facilities without even having running water to clean used glasses and the mafia families would use their leverage to extort wealthy patrons by threatening to expose their homosexuality to their workplace, friends and families. Despite these unruly conditions, the gay, lesbian and transgender communities continued to patron the gay bars and clubs in seek of solace, space to express their true selves and reprieve from discrimination, oppression and abuse.
Although NYC police would take their conniving bribes from the mafia owners, they relentlessly conducted raids in Greenwich Village’s gay bars and clubs, harassing, abusing and arresting gay, lesbian and transgender individuals for simply being themselves. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid was conducted at The Stonewall Inn. Police lined up the LGBTQ+ patrons demanding identification and humiliating individuals - trans people in particular. The queer community finally decided that enough was enough! As police officers began aggressively trying to make arrests, angry patrons resisted, while hundreds of others began mounting a protest outside which quickly multiplied. The protest drew on for 6 days, bringing thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies together and gaining powerful national attention.
The Stonewall Uprising was truly a culmination of years of LGBTQ+ oppression and this moment in history was backed by activism efforts that had already been occurring in the United States through the tireless efforts of organizations like the Daughters of Bilitis, the Mattachine Society and the civil rights movement inspired by Sip In at Julius’ Bar. This was the beginning fo the Gay Liberation Front which emerged from the Stonewall Uprising, as well as the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), founded by Sylvia Riveria and Marsha P. Johnson. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the Gay Liberation Front conducted its first pride marches in NYC, San Francisco and Los Angeles in June 1970. As the years have passed, other cities and countries across the world have adopted June as Pride Month and Pride festivals, parades and marches happen all throughout this celebratory month.
2. Attend a Pride Parade & Celebration
Now that you know some of the history of Pride, get out there and join the celebrations! Check your local LGBTQ+ community center for event updates and Pride happenings. If you live near us in Grass Valley, California, make the short 1-hour drive down to Sacramento to attend Sac Pride March & Festival on June 11th and 12th of this year. The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association also has a Pride calendar so you can get all the dates and details of Pride events throughout the world.
3. Volunteer at your local Pride Parade &/or Celebration
As the LGBTQ+ movement strengthens and celebrations increase in size, Pride organizers are in need of helping hands. Contact your local LGBTQ+ center and/or sign up for their volunteer list to find ways that you can be of service this month and all year round. Again, if you live in our neck of the woods, the Sac LGBTQ Center has all sorts of amazing volunteer opportunities such as community engagement, festival volunteers, social media outreach, leadership opportunities and becoming a part of the Pride march logistics team.
4. Proclaim your preferred Pronouns
Help to break the binary and create a normalized work, school and social environment for everyone by proclaiming your pronouns on biographies, resumes, emails, LinkedIn, Zoom meetings, etc. When you do this small action, it lets everyone know that you are not going to make assumptions about their gender, therefore, creating a healthier, more inclusive and safe space for all.
5. Learn How to be a better LGBTQ+ Ally
A concept in life that we always keep in mind is to never stop learning. When you continue to learn, you stay engaged in the evolving world around you and keep an open mind to other worldviews and ways of thinking and being. Never stop expanding your knowledge of how you can be a better LGBTQ+ ally and friend! The Human Rights Campaign has a great resource for just this task.
Furthermore, educate yourself about rainbow-washing and pink-washing. This is when a company uses rainbow advertising during pride month to profit off of consumers and suggest support for the LGBTQ+ community, without taking any other action to support the cause or even worse, they monetarily fund anti LGBTQ+ policies and legislators. For example, many large companies, like AT&T, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Home Depot and General Motors may appear to support the LGBTQ+ community during pride month, but in all actuality, these big corporations have donated thousands to millions of dollars to anti-gay and anti-trans legislators. Stay in the know so that you may continue to be of the best support to the queer community. To learn more, subscribe to read this article from Popular Information.
6. Diversify your Instagram with LGBTQ+ Activists, Artists, Storytellers & Historians
Stay in the know all year long and hear from inspiring voices in the LGBTQ+ community as you scroll through your IG feed. LGBTQ+ Instagram accounts we love include none other than Billy Porter, Indya Moore, Matt Bernstein, Chip Whitehouse, Glennon Doyle, Jessamyn Stanley, Dominique Jackson, Kathryn Budig, Jacob Tobia and The Aids Memorial, to name a few.
The below painting was painted by self-proclaimed, flaming homosexual artist, Chip Whitehouse and commissioned by PAAVANI Ayurveda.
7. Support LGBTQ+ Businesses & Writers
If you haven’t already, begin to seek out LGBTQ+ businesses in your local area and show your support through making a purchase, spreading the word and/or doing a special shout-out on your social media. As small business owners ourselves, we LOVE receiving publicity and referrals from our customers and communities and we think that your local LGBTQ+ businesses will too!
If you want to get your yoga on virtually AND celebrate LGBTQ+ teachers and voices, this week at Kathryn Budig’s Haus of Phoenix, they are hosting a Pride week takeover featuring LGBTQ+ friends and educators.
8. Must-See Movies & Shows with Queer Voices
A special thank you to our sales manager and social media specialist, Paul McDonald, for helping us with this list of movies and shows that highlight LGBTQ+ voices and stories.
Movies to Watch:
- Call Me By Your Name
- Brokeback Mountain
- My Own Private Idaho
- The Life of Marsha P. Johnson
- Paris is Burning
- Boys Don’t Dry
- Priscilla Queen of the Desert
- The Matthew Shepard Story
- The Birdcage
Shows to Watch:
- Modern Family
- Orange is the New Black
- Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
- Ru Paul’s Drag Race
- Sex Education
- The L Word
- We’re Here
9. Donate to LGBTQ+ Organizations
There are so many organizations dedicated to fostering civil rights, equal justice and safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. Here are just a few organizations you can check out and donate to in order to help them continue to do their necessary, important and inspiring work:
- Shepard Foundation
- Human Rights Campaign
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Transgender Law Center
- The Trevor Project
- True Colors United
10. Keep Going & Speak Up
Pride month gives us all an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the progress we have made for the equality of the LGBTQ+ community; however, Pride month should not end when June is over. Instead, commit to continuing the spirit of pride month all year long! Wear your rainbow-colored pride gear and wave your LGBTQ+ flags throughout the year so that you may continue to show your love and support for the Pride movement. Continue practicing ideas that have inspired you from this list above. Share your voice and support for this community on your social media accounts. Further, if you hear or see someone getting mistreated due to their race, gender identity, sexual identity and/or preference, speak up and speak out. The struggle for LGBTQ+ equality in this world is far from over and we must commit every day to support this cause. As the late Representative and towering civil rights leader and activist, John Lewis, said, “never ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble”.
Wishing everyone a safe, mindful and joyful Pride month! To all of our LGBTQ+ friends, family and the larger community, we see you, we honor you and we stand by you this month and forevermore.
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Pride parade hero image photo by Sander Dalhuisen: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-watching-people-riding-motorcycles-2565860/
Pride fest photo by Ronê Ferreira: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-posing-for-a-photo-2577893/
Women holding hands photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-with-arms-raised-and-holding-hands-4557817/