I remember sneaking into downtown Chicago as a teenager to attend a Pride parade. The streets were lined with couples kissing, dogs with rainbow collars, stunning drag queens, flags, and all the glitter. It was like Disney World (but better), the happiest place on earth, a place where I felt I could be my authentic self.
While Pride events might seem like one big party, Pride Month originated from a police raid and brutality. On June 28th, 1969, on a hot summer night, police stormed into the Stone Wall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Back then, raids were common. Without reason or warning, cops could harass, arrest and even force hospitalization on members of the LGBTQ+ community. But on this particular night, patrons decided to fight back. Hundreds joined and resisted arrest, broke windows, set cars on fire, and trapped the police inside the Stonewall Inn.
This riot prompted weeks of protests against injustice and brutality. One year later, to honor the Stonewall Riot, demonstrations were organized in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Pride parades are now celebrated around the world, promoting visibility, LGBTQ+ rights, and honoring how far we’ve come. In 2000, President Bill Clinton made June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” and then in 2011, Barack Obama officially declared June LGBT Pride Month, making it the inclusive celebration we know it as today.
This year due to the pandemic, a lot of Pride events and festivals are canceled or postponed, but you can still support LGBTQ+ organizations and show Pride from home, so lez’ get into it!
1. Attend an event (virtually)
Most major cities are playing it pretty safe and opting for virtual Pride events this June. Grab your Pride merch, maybe a disco ball, and have a slammin’ Pride celebration in the comfort of your living room. There are several events all month, here are just a few:
The Queer 26 is kicking off Pride Month with Pride Con 2021: a virtual convention from June 1st-6th. Pride Con will feature a variety of virtual activities and events geared towards QTBIPOC/LGBTQ communities, including “speed friending,” dance classes, interviews, open mics, and movie nights.
And last, on June 29th, Seeker will conclude Pride Month with a positive and community-driven panel discussion on Clubhouse covering all things LGBTQ+ travel: the best and worst places to visit, how local laws impact the LGBTQ+ community, tips for the ultimate experience, what makes LGBTQ+ travel different, and why it all matters. Speakers will include LGBTQ+ travel experts (TBA), and Slavi Arnaudov, board member at Asylum Connect (the world’s first tech platform for those fleeing persecution due to sexual orientation or gender identity) and expert on LGBTQ+ immigration.
For more virtual Pride events, click here.
2. Give to a LGBTQ+ charity
Let’s be honest: one of the best things you can do during Pride month is donate. To amplify your donation, ask your company if they would match your donation. Or, offer to collect donations for friends and family and contribute one large amount together. Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our favorite LGBTQ+ non-profits:
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, aka The Center, is a nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQ+ population of New York City and nearby communities. They provide health and wellness services as well as community connection.
Center On Halsted is the Midwest’s most comprehensive LGBTQ+ community center located in the heart of Chicago. Their programs range from cooking classes to yoga classes to temporary housing and food.
Pride Foundation is an LGBTQ+ philanthropy serving the Pacific Northwest and has issued more than 8 million in grants and manages over 50 scholarships.
Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network is a LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that trains queer and trans youth leaders to build alliances for safer schools and communities.
AsylumConnect is the world’s first tech platform for those fleeing persecution due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Purchase an exclusive Pride t-shirt or hat on Seeker’s shop through the month of June and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to AsylumConnect.
Remember: strength comes in numbers. If you need help raising money for the LGBTQ+ organization of your choice, host a virtual dance class, yoga class, writing workshop, or social media training via zoom or Instagram live. Social media can be a powerful vehicle for rallying troops, use it.
3. Eat & drink
Everyone’s gotta eat, so this June, make it a point to spend money at your local LGBTQ+ owned businesses and restaurants. You can search on websites like Open Table to see which restaurants in your community are LGBTQ+ owned. If you’re heading to the grocery store, here are some of our favorite Pride-ful brands:
Add a little spice to your Pride with Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper Sauce, made with a unique, bold blend of habanero and scotch bonnet peppers. As Shaquanda says: be the queen of your kitchen.
End your Pride with something sweet. Lagusta’s Luscious is a vegan chocolate company passionate about social justice, environmentalism, and bold flavor.
4. Cozy up for a gay movie night
What better way to celebrate Pride than by supporting queer art? Cuddle up with your cats and your softest flannel for a mega movie marathon.
LGBTQ+ representation in TV and film has taken a huge leap forward. According to GLAAD, the amount of queer characters on primetime TV is at a record-high 10.2%.
One of the most inclusive networks is Netflix, with popular Netflix Original shows like Orange Is The New Black and Dear White People. If you’ve already binged the heck out of those (yeah, us too), here are some must-watch LGBTQ+ films on Netflix to watch all month long:
First on the list is Feel Good, a Netflix series that follows an up-and-coming comedian and recovering addict, Mae and her romance with her “straight” girlfriend, George. The show is dramatic, heart-warming, and v v gay.
The Prom is a lively feel-good movie about a group of failing Broadway stars who end up in middle America and do everything in their power to help a teen go to prom with her girlfriend. The film opens the door to conversations about the harsh reality of discrimination in rural America and the struggle of coming out to conservative parents.
If you’re looking for a good doc, watch Disclosure, a powerful look into Hollywood’s depiction of the trans community and its affect on American culture. It’s a must-watch.
While we’re talking about docs, A Secret Love shares the story of a lesbian couple who kept their love a secret for seven (!!) decades. It explores what it was like to be lesbian 70 years ago and the obstacles queer people go through to hide their sexuality.
Last but not least, Holding The Man is a moving true story about two boys who fall in love at an all-boys high school. The film depicts everything from discrimination and loss to jealousy and heartache.
The Trevor Project, the leading crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth, offers a ton of virtual volunteer opportunities. Apply to volunteer as a crisis counselor answering messages or calls from LGBTQ+ community members who are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.
This month, look out for LA Pride’s “Pride Makes a Difference” volunteer calendar, which will enable people to volunteer, both in-person and virtually, for local nonprofits that support LGBTQ+ people.
Most cities have LGBTQ+ organizations where you can volunteer in-person or virtually. For more opportunities, search for an LGBTQ+ center in your city.
6. Support LGBTQ+ makers and creators
By supporting queer art, you both support a marginalized group and also cultivate an artistic environment full of unique perspectives. Here are some rad queer artists on Etsy that you can support today:
Wander Free And Queer Shop is owned by the lovely queer traveling duo, Danella and Ally, who live out of their RV and own a crochet business.
It’s Madison Ryan Feminist Apparel & Goods owned by Madison Ryan creates the cutest feminist apparel that is sure to piss off the right person.
Deer Queer is an LGBTQ+-owned t-shirt shop for queers and allies.
Bitchin’ Design Co is an angry feminist design shop with stickers, t-shirts, and more!
7. Mentor LGBTQ+ youth
LGBTQ+ youth have higher rates of mental illness and are more likely to experience bullying and lack of acceptance at home. A 2020 Trevor Project survey suggests that the pandemic is especially difficult for queer youth who are often forced to spend more time in unsupportive environments.
Consider becoming a mentor to LGBTQ+ youth. Check for mentoring opportunities in your community by visiting LGBTQI-GNC Youth, a national mentoring resource center.
8. Engage with your fave LGBTQ+ creators on Instagram
Turn those post notifications all the way up for your favorite LGBTQ+ bloggers and creators on Instagram. Follow their business accounts, share their content, save their posts, and send their profiles to your friends. By engaging with small creators, you’re amplify their voices, boosting the algorithm, and helping to share queer stories.
Want to go the extra mile for your favorite LGBTQ+ creators? Mention their name for paid opportunities, use their affiliate codes, buy their products, and sign up for their Patreon. Click the link in their bio to see what they’re currently promoting or ask them directly how you can support them further.
9. Shop LGBTQ+ brands
Use your buying power to support LGBTQ+ individuals and their businesses.
Looking for a new cream cleanser? Dr. Botanicals is a vegan, cruelty-free brand that provides the very best skincare for healthy, glowing skin and just so happens to be queer-owned.
If you love kombucha, consider swapping to GT Synergy Kombucha to quench your thirst this June. Their mission is to help people live happier, healthier lives. George Dave, the founder of GT Synergy Kombucha, is an openly gay man who just welcomed his first child, a son named Bloume.
Peau De Loup is an androgynous clothing brand for bodies with curves. They work to make people feel the same way on the outside as they do on the inside.
Early 2 Bed helps people of all genders and orientations explore their sexuality to the fullest. Their site offers everything from sex toys, gender gear, books, games, and gifts.
One of my favorite shops in Chicago is Humboldt House, a feminist shop with everything from cute jewelry to home decor. Shop online or in-person.
10. Share (or reshare) resources
Informational carousel posts on Instagram have taken over and are the new way to share digestible information and news. Create a simple “Happy Pride Month” graphic, highlight historical gay activists, answer a commonly asked question, share your story with photos, or debunk LGBTQ+ myths. Or, reshare a Pride Month graphic you love.
If Instagram’s not your thing, share or reshare resources on Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, email, snail mail…
11. Tell your story
Storytelling is a powerful advocacy tool. People respond to personal stories, especially when they are from people they know. Visibility and representation are cornerstones of equality and acceptance. Simply sharing your LGBTQ+ story not only helps others who might be silently struggling, but also paves the way for acceptance for future generations.
If you feel safe doing so, share your story: publicly on social media through an Instagram story and caption, or by publishing your thoughts on a blog or YouTube channel.
Sharing your story doesn’t only apply to those within the LGBTQ+ community. We need allies too! If your daughter is gay, wish everyone at work a happy Pride month and mention you are a proud LBGTQ+ parent. Share how your experience has opened your eyes or ways you desire to see change. It’s a privilege to know someone who was brave enough to be their authentic self. Be proud out loud.