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What is Pride? Exploring its Roots and What it Means Today

06 Jun 2024

What is Pride Month, and what does it mean to celebrate it? Taking place throughout June, this time celebrates everyone who doesn’t fall under the heteronormative umbrella. It’s a time to honor all the marginalized groups within the LGBTQ+ community.

While the month was initially referred to as Gay Pride at the time of its inception, today, the term “pride” is more inclusive of all the other diverse communities, from the non-binary to two-spirit individuals. Every June, it reminds us that while we’ve come a long way, we can’t stop fighting for everyone to have equal rights. It provides a chance for LGBTQ+ people to attend events and celebrate with others like them, fostering a safe space and a sense of community. This time also provides opportunities for individuals and businesses to promote their own forms of activism and to partner with charities.

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The history of Pride Month

Pride Month originally began with a protest known as the Stonewall Riots. Taking place in June 1969, when the police raided a gay bar in NYC called the Stonewall Inn, people decided to fight back and protest the raid rather than being compliant as they always had. This act of rebellion and standing up for gay rights brought justice to the queer community and has had positive echoes throughout history ever since. The confrontation and violent riots at the Stonewall Inn, which lasted six days, changed everything, putting the gay rights movement on the front page. June was officially dubbed Pride Month in the USA in 1999, and today, it’s often celebrated with parades and other events worldwide.

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Why is Pride Month important?

Besides offering a safe environment for like-minded people to celebrate their identity and resilience, Pride Month offers a chance to raise awareness of discrimination and provide a platform for activists to speak out against it. It’s a time to advocate for the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community, who are discriminated against and face more violence than the general population.

According to research, those who feel more connected to each other in this community are less likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Pride Month celebrates the idea that you’re perfect the way you are, increasing confidence and boosting self-esteem.

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It’s a chance to shout your identity from the rooftops rather than hide it, and those who do so can act as beacons of hope and inspiration for people who are still nervous about going public with their gender identity or sexuality.

Finally, it’s a time to honor all the major leaps in history that the LGBTQ+ community. In 1966, before the Stonewall Riots, a “sip-in” protest amongst the members of the Mattachine Society took place at a bar in New York City called Julius. They demanded to be served drinks after they announced they were gay. At the time, local laws prohibited serving alcohol to gay men and lesbians. Activist Harry Hay created the Mattachine Society, which was one of the first-ever gay rights groups in the USA.

In the 1970s, more openly LGBTQ+ politicians started getting elected into seats of power. In 1978, activist Harvey Milk became San Francisco’s city supervisor, acting as a symbol of hope and inspiring Gilbert Bake to design the first rainbow flag, which would become an emblem of the community.

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How can we celebrate Pride?

There are plenty of initiatives you can partake in from the comfort of your own home (i.e., donating to charities or organizations and expressing your activism on social media platforms). But the best way to experience the joy of this time is to attend a Pride parade or event! Between June and July, there are plenty of festivals and parades you can attend all over the world. Even venues in your local town or city will likely host Pride-related events.

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Beyond events, simply being an ally is its own form of support. Listening to your friends and family in the LGBTQ+ community is enough and puts you on the right side of history. Make space for your friends to open up about their experiences. Educate yourself about the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation.

Be a good listener and respond positively, letting them know you’re here to provide support however they need it and that you recognize the systemic failures that this community has faced. Normalize asking people about their pronouns (or referring to them with general terms) and respecting how they label themselves, as well as taking accountability if you misgender someone or make them feel uncomfortable in any way. Your goal should be to provide empathy for others without any judgment.

Volunteering is also a great way to connect with others and show support. You can volunteer at pride events like parades, LGBTQ+ hotlines, queer film festivals, or other local community events and organizations. Another way to be an advocate is to buy from queer-owned businesses and donate to charities or organizations, promoting them on whatever platforms you have available. Some options include The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, and PFLAG.

 

Finally, supporting LGBTQ+ businesses is a significant way to be an advocate and to show that you care. These brands often create more inclusive toys for a variety of bodies and people. Amazing is proud to carry LGBTQ+ brands and vendors, empowering business owners in the community while exploring a greater range of sexual desires, from BDSM gear to strap-ons. Now, that’s something pleasurable we can get behind!

The critical thing to recognize is that there are many ways to speak out against injustice. How you choose to do so will depend on the causes that are personal to you and what you’re passionate about. Remember—committing to Pride isn’t just about going to a parade or two during June. It’s about taking meaningful action in the months and years after.

 

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