When you think of Pride Month, you likely think about rainbows. Huge, colorful flags carried by gregarious people wearing hot pants and vibrant eyeshadow. The parades and events of Pride often suit those who are outgoing, body-positive, and able to be proud in a visible, eye-catching way.
But Pride Month is for everyone, and in order to build a better future for it, it’s crucial that organizers commit to innovating towards greater inclusion for all, especially those who might have been excluded from being able to celebrate their queerness in the past.
Pride Month is more than just a parade
Pride Month honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising; a series of confrontations between police and gay rights activists in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. After the police conducted a violent raid, riots outside the Stonewall Inn continued for several days, and the incident gave rise to a connected and nationwide LGBTQ+ movement.
On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, there was a Gay Pride march in New York. Los Angeles and Chicago also hosted Pride parades in 1970, and in years to come, many other cities followed.
Pride events have a carnival-like atmosphere and can be a lot of fun to attend, but it is worth remembering that it has been a political event since its inception. “Pride has always been a protest against unjust systems, even when it’s lighthearted and fun,” writes Matt Baume for Them .
Pride has evolved from its humble beginnings, for both better and – some believe – for worse. As the range of events has grown and local business involvement has expanded, so has the level of corporate sponsorship.
“It’s hard to shake the feeling that this commercialized mass appeal has helped further dampen Pride Month’s fiery political roots, and helped obfuscate the less-pleasant, less-talked-about issues that matter for many people in the LGBTQ community — and will continue to matter long after the rainbow T-shirts, socks, water bottles, and cute retail disappear from store windows,” wrote Alex Abad-Santos for Vox .
Pride Month is for everyone
Whilst the Pride parades remain the highlight events of Pride Month in non-COVID times, in 2020 and 2021, Pride has looked a little different. With smaller events and some digital events on offer, there’s an opportunity to reimagine a new kind of Pride Month that can be more inclusive than ever before.
“For the first time in a decade, I am looking forward to Pride,” Katie Tastrom wrote for Rewire News Group in June 2020. She explained that since getting sick with autoimmune illnesses, she had not been able to attend in-person Pride events and was excited to be able to participate with the online events during the COVID lockdown.
Pride Month should be for everyone who wants to take part, but not everyone is able to access the main events, and some people are simply not comfortable doing so. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed large in-person events online, and now, organizations and groups globally have the chance to consider what they learned during the pandemic and rethink their accessibility strategies from the ground up.
Going forward, a truly inclusive Pride should aim to include people who can’t access in-person events, such as people who are disabled or those without transport connections out of rural areas.
By providing digital events to allow these people to connect with others, in addition to continuing with traditional events for those who prefer to see their fellow LGBTQ+ community members in-person, Pride participation could reach new heights.
Thinking beyond June
Pride Month remains a hugely important and impactful time, but it will be more effective if people can keep the same awareness going come July 1st. As individuals, we can all contribute to this change.
If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, check in with fellow community members who might not have access to certain aspects of Pride, and find out how you could help them to have their most awesome Pride Month ever next year.
If you’re not LGBTQ+ yourself, but you have friend and/or partners who are, ask them how they felt about this year’s Pride, and more importantly, what kind of support they’d like to see more year-round.
You could also make sure that your workplace and other group spaces are creating safe environments for people to talk openly about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity at all times and call out any and all behavior that is discriminatory.
Together, we can create better, safer, more inclusive environments for queer people all year round, and that’s something that we can all be proud about.