What is Pride Month?
June is Pride Month, dedicated to celebrating and showcasing LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer) culture. These celebrations include parades, protests, drag performances, and live theater. Pride is in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which took place in Manhattan. Among the celebrations, there are also countless memorials and celebrations of life to honor those whose lives were cut short due to HIV/AIDS or hate crimes.
In most of history, it was illegal and considered highly immoral for same-sex relations. New York City had one such law, and in the 1960s, LGBTQ individuals would look for sanctuary within gay bars and clubs. To combat this, the New York State Liquor Authority would shut down establishments known to serve drinks to LGBTQ people. They claimed the gatherings of such peoples were disorderly. In 1966, these establishments gained the right to serve liquor, though it was still illegal to engage in gay behavior. Police would frequently harass these clubs.
The Stonewall Inn was situated in Greenwich. It was large, cheap, and accepted drag queens (many other gay bars and clubs did not). Generally, the mafia-owned bar was warned of incoming raids thanks to under-the-table payments. This gave the owners time to hide liquor and keep the peace as best they could, so the money could flow once the police were gone. On June 28th, 1969, the Stonewall was raided, and they had no warning. The police came in heavy-handed. Officers forcibly pulled trans people into washrooms to check their sex. Patrons were roughed up and arrested. This raid became the boiling point for LGBTQ people, and they erupted into a riot. While history differs on the details, one of the first trans women at the Stonewall to stand her ground was Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson. Her courage and rage caught on, and the LGBTQ people made their stand. The uprising lasted five days and included thousands of people.
The next year, thousands marched the streets of Manhattan with the slogan, “Say it loud, gay is proud.”
Why it’s Important to Celebrate and Commemorate
The best way to categorize anyone within the LGBTQ communities is as people — because that’s what they are. That’s what everyone is. The LGBTQ community celebrations normalize a culture that was ostracized. These celebrations are a way to build understanding and acceptance. To not only showcase people who shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves, but to give them the safety to do it. These celebrations are acceptance. These celebrations are love. We commemorate Pride to honor its violent roots and celebrate the place in society the LGBTQ carved for themselves. The world is still a violent and dangerous, cruel world towards LGBTQ people. Pride month reminds everyone that they are not alone. They have a community that loves them. Everyone deserves to be loved.
Different Ways to Support the Community
June is a month that brings all kinds of activities you can participate in to show your support of the LGBTQ community. That said, it’s important to take your support a step further and physically or financially support the community in meaningful ways.
The Spark of Awareness
It’s important to be open to others’ experiences. If you listen to members of the LGBTQ community, you can learn a lot about the adversity they face. By taking the time to read up on some history (hey, you’re doing that right now — great work!), you can gain a world of perspective into the community. Another small step of awareness is tuning into gendering in your language, like assuming another person’s gender by defaulting to he/she. Aiming for gender-neutral language and asking others for their pronoun preference is a small but significant step.
Providing Support to LGBTQ Businesses
One of the best ways to support LGBTQ communities is to visit their businesses. You can search for LGBTQ-owned businesses online, on social media, or ask around the community and see what others recommend. By purchasing from these businesses, you are giving direct financial support to business owners in the community instead of spending those dollars at big retailers. This also makes your impact longer-lasting than just Pride Month, as the LGBTQ community needs support all year long.
5 LGBTQ Home Brands to Check Out in June
- Minna – Hudson, NY. Founded by Sara Berks in 2013, Minna collaborates with artisans in Mexico to create woven home goods including rugs, blankets, pillows, and more.
- Otherwild – Los Angeles, CA. Founded by Rachel Berks in 2012, Otherwild is a store, studio, and event space that produces accessories, apparel, and home goods.
- Suay Sew Shop – Los Angeles, CA. Founded in 2017 by Lindsay Rose Medoff, Suay Sew is a strong advocate for eco-conscious production and garment workers’ rights. They produce beautiful fabrics as napkins, blankets, pillow covers, and more.
- BLK MKT Vintage – Brooklyn, NY. Founded in 2014 by Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy, BLK MKT Vintage focuses on artifacts of black culture, selling everything from records and art to clothing and home goods.
- Queer Candle Co. – New York, NY. Founded in 2017 by Abby Gibson and Alyssa Rose, Queer Candle Co. produces visually and fragrantly unique soy wax candles (and donates 10% of earnings to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project)
You can also search Etsy for queer owned businesses for gifts, apparel, and homewares.
Don’t Just Shop, Promote
If you’re using your wallet to support the community, it can be equally helpful to support them after your purchase. Be sure to like and follow their businesses on social media, leave Google and Yelp reviews for local vendors, and spread the word to family and friends.
Give to LGBTQ Charities
LGBTQ charities need support year-round, not just during Pride Month. The Trevor Lifeline assists LGBTQ youth, who are among the most at-risk for suicide. The Human Rights Campaign is great for education, health, inclusivity, and more for the LGBTQ population around the world. The Point Foundation is an LGBTQ scholarship foundation for high school youth. There are many good charities out there, and your support will go a long way.
Other ways to give
Donate points. If you’re cash-poor, there are ways you can donate your business points towards the LGBTQ community as well. Businesses like Sephora, American Express, and the Hilton all have ways to accomplish this.
Donate belongings. Have extra furniture and home goods? You can also donate these items as well as apparel, hygiene basics, and more to local shelters that often support LGBTQ youth and adults. You can also call VPN to see if they can benefit from goods or a financial donation to make a more acute impact in your local community.
Being an ally and an activist for LGBTQ rights is a complex issue and not something that one article can tell you how to do. For more information about advocacy and allyship, check out (and donate to) organizations like GLAAD and others who are dedicated to education.
With that said, there are smaller steps you can take to get involved in your local community.
- Find your local LGBT Community Center and reach out to see what volunteer or donation opportunities may exist
- Visit PLFAG’s action alerts page to take action on legislation that your vote counts on
- Start educating yourself on LGBTQ history and political issues. Understanding the battle the community faces is an important first step to being able to be an ally in your home, school, and workplace
You can set up a virtual fundraiser as well. Pick an activity, such as virtual games, trivia, or even walks, then set your goal. Figure out the planning of your event, then publicize it everywhere. Ask your friends to share it and talk about it. Virtual fundraisers can be quite successful and a lot of fun as well.
Being an ally starts with respect, but it goes much deeper. Really dive into the stories and history. Understand them, empathize with them. Uplift even the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ community. Go beyond Pride month and be an ally throughout the entire year. Go online and promote legislative change to make LGBTQ lives better. Many online articles and resources will assist you in becoming a better ally. Continue to read up — it makes a world of difference.
Ways to Support the Community from Home
You can also discuss inclusiveness with your family and friends. They may not have the same knowledge, so chat about what you’ve learned. Try to help them understand why gender and identity inclusivity is so important, not just from a safety and security standpoint but also from a historical perspective. If you can describe why it’s important to you, that enthusiasm may continue to rub off onto others close to you.
Attend virtual awareness or educational events. You can continue to educate yourself by attending virtual events that chronicle LGBTQ history or simply celebrate and experience the culture. Check out Eventbrite’s page of Pride month events, many of which are free.
If you choose to tune into a virtual event, it’s important to show up as fully as you can (camera on!). Try to avoid splitting your time or focus across multiple tasks, and dedicate time to meet new people during the event if that’s an option.
Educate yourself (and invite others to join). There is a wealth of educational resources that can be accessed online for free to help us all better understand LGBTQ culture and history. Take some time to read and watch, or better yet, host a viewing party.
Virtual fundraisers. You can set up a virtual fundraiser as well. Pick an activity, such as internet-based games, trivia, or even walks, then set your goal. Figure out the planning of your event, then publicize it everywhere. Ask your friends to share it and talk about it. Virtual fundraisers can be quite successful and a lot of fun as well.
Planning a virtual fundraiser? Be sure that you’re using safe and smart internet practices while hosting. You don’t just need a good internet connection (and potentially a Zoom account), you also need to be sure that any payments you collect are safe and secure. Be sure to thoroughly research the organizations you plan to donate to, and use a VPN when you can for sending internet payments.
What’s an Ally
If you’ve made it this far, you’re either already an LGBTQ ally or on the road to becoming one. Continue to deepen your understanding and knowledge of LGBTQ people. Stand up against intolerance and explain to your friends and family why it’s important to you. Shop at LGBTQ businesses and consider donations to causes that help. Celebrate Pride, but champion the community year-round. Together, we can make a difference.