Celebrating Pride Month
June is probably my favorite month of the year. Not just because it’s the start of summer or because my birthday is in June – it’s mostly because June is recognized as Pride Month in the United States. From parades and festivals to rainbow flags and merchandise lines, there’s such a fabulous energy of happiness and celebration that seems to surround everything during the month. I think that’s my favorite thing about pride month – that the LGBT community has been able to infuse such an aura of positivity into a month that originates from quite a serious and somewhat negative historical event.
Pride Month was started as a response to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 – a violent clash between police and members of the LGBT community in New York City. This event spurred a week of rioting and protesting to push against the unfair treatment of LGBT people and push for the creation of spaces where the LGBT community could safely exist and express themselves. In June of 1970, the first Gay Pride events were organized in New York to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and continue fighting against the conditions that led to the unfortunate occurrence. These events grew year-by-year and eventually spread across the country and world and morphed into the modern-day Pride Month that we now get to celebrate. While there are still many events that focus on the Stonewall Riots and the early history of the gay rights movement, much of that is now saved for October, which is recognized as LGBT History Month. Instead, Pride Month is more largely focused on celebrating the vibrancy, positivity, and acceptance that exists in the LGBT community today.
One of the most recognizable elements of Pride Month is the pride parade. Cities across the globe participate in parades and marches to highlight and celebrate the LGBT community. Some parades even expand into full-on festivals that span whole weeks and include concerts and other festivities. These parades aim to be maximally inclusive and represent as many identities and populations within the LGBT community as possible. As a result of this air of inclusivity, many people – even those who do not identify as a part of the LGBT community – are drawn to these events. They enjoy pride events because they can be fully and authentically themselves and be surrounded by others who are doing the same. This is what I believe Pride Month has come to be all about – having the permission to be fully and authentically yourself.
The celebratory nature of Pride Month can be seen far beyond the scope of parades and festivals, too. If you walk into a store like Target or the Disney Store during the month of June, you’re likely to find a “pride collection” of limited-edition rainbow apparel and products. If you scroll through your social media platforms, you might find that your favorite company has temporarily changed their profile picture to a rainbow version of their logo or posted an ad that promotes equality and LGBT representation. Some people feel that these instances of so-called “corporate pride” are examples of performative activism (especially when the company has seemingly contradictory discriminatory and non-inclusive policies and practices), while others feel that the over-use of rainbow marketing is pushing a sociopolitical agenda. Despite these criticisms, the wide-spread celebration of Pride Month has become a reminder spanning all aspects of society that in June it is not only to be your true self, it is encouraged and celebrated.
As a society, we are striving to create a world where everyone can be their authentic self every day. We have made a lot of great progress, but there is still much room for improvement. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable expressing themselves and their identities any day they choose, but during Pride Month in particular, we go the extra mile to spread the message of accepting all identities and celebrating the diverse forms of self-expression. It’s a month of celebration and joy for everyone who takes pride in who they are!
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*Meet the Author*
Morgan has worked with Leadership Inspirations for five years. He has a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies and an M.A. in Leadership Development from Chapman University.
Favorite quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon
Fun facts: 1) I once trained my pet goldfish to play basketball 2) When I was little I wanted to be a Disneyland parking attendant 3) I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan