June is Gay Pride month. What does this mean you may ask? Most people think it is just a time for the LGBTQ+ community to get together and have a party. It is so much more than that. The month of June for Pride was chosen to commemorate the Stonewall riots as they had occurred in June of 1969. It is remembered because this is the outcry that sparked the gay rights movement.
The LGBTQ+ community throughout history has faced many injustices and discriminations. But on June 28th, 1969 the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. That day, the police entered the club and started roughing up the patrons, they arrested 13 people who they say had violated the state gender appropriate clothing statute. Patrons and the surrounding neighborhood were fed up with the constant harassment and discrimination. Police involvement escalated in violence and thus the riots began lasting 6 days. From this came about a new generation of political activism, including such groups as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
This is just a small part of our history and there is so much more that needs to be documented and remembered, but in 2016 President Barack Obama designated the site of the riots as a national monument in recognition of the area’s contribution to gay and human rights. We are moving forward.
Due to this stigma, denial of human rights, and discrimination, the LGBT+ community face increased mental health disparities. According to Mental Health America, “As compared to people that identify as straight, LGBT individuals are 3 times more likely to experience a mental health condition. An estimated 20-30% of LGBT individuals abuse substances, compared to 9% of the general public. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm, as compared to youth that are straight.”
Pride is a time to remember our history but also to celebrate our diversity and to create community. It is a time to come together to end discrimination and to keep moving forward for equal rights for all. We fight to ensure basic human rights are recognized for everyone.
On that note, I invite you to attend your local Pride event and see what it is all about. There are also opportunities to volunteer at many festivals in many different capacities if you would so choose. Just don’t forget your rainbows!
If you plan on attending a Pride event as an ally, please remember these things (summarized from an article by Meg Cale.)
Remember our history, don’t disrespect it.
Do not take pictures without permission.
Do not come if you cannot celebrate all people within the LGBTQ+ community.
This is a safe place.
This event is not appropriate to celebrate your personal party
Act appropriately and be supportive.