Not only is it now officially summer, but it’s Pride Month! While now more of a celebration of queer community and vitality, Pride started out very different than what it looks like today. Rooted in a history of oppression and struggle, the first Pride was actually a political protest and the start of a long, loud history of LGBTQ folks fighting for their rights.
This legacy is an important one to honor, but not just for one month. While the celebration of community leaders and heros in the queer community is much needed, and having a month where LGBTQ artists and creators and community members are celebrated is a wonderful part of how we should be supporting our queer friends and family. But it’s not the only way, and remembering those times of struggle–which are not completely over–is equally important.
Valuing someone’s struggle and the justice they fight is actually crucial–facing social, political or structural oppression or discrimination is a traumatic event, and valuing mental health means recognizing that and looking for multiple avnues, not just pride and celebration, to support that struggle.
So how can you continue to show support for your LGBTQ loved ones beyond Pride month?
Learn about other figures in queer history:
You may have heard of Sylvia Rivera or Marsha P Johnson–who are considered to be some of the “founders” of Pride. They helped to lead the riot at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, and were heavily involved in social justice issues for the queer community throughout their livese and periods of activism. Their names are commonly brought up in June–well deservedly so!–but we don’t get to hear about a lot of other prolific & influential queer voices.
Learning the history of Pride is important, but how many LGBTQ writers, musicians, performers, activists, or community leaders do you know by name? Taking time to explore the different art and thought and writing work that queer people have been creating in the margins for decades is a great way to expose yourself to LGBTQ thought, experiences, as well as let the queer people in your life know you value those experience and find it enriching to include them in your life.
Honor the values of community and kindness:
Many folks in the queer community don’t have traditional relationships with their families. While younger generations of LGBTQ folks may face less social discrimination in certain ways, there are still a lot of risks that come with coming out, so many queer folks have had to create their own family and communities. Try to keep this in mind when you’re in fellow community spaces, and try to move with those values at the forefront of your mind.
That means: correcting someone when they use incorrect pronouns for someone else–without doing so in a way that creates more tension and possibly puts a marginalized person in danger. Support community centers that work specifically to make safe spaces for marginalized people, or centers that allow members of the community to come together and build relationships with one another and the community, like community gardens or education centers.
Research what you’re supporting:
A big problem with Pride month itself, is that it has morphed away from a time focused on LGBTQ rights and honoring queer community members, and has increasingly become an opportunity for a month long celebration of rainbow capitalism. It’s much more overt in June, when companies are pointedly trying to profit off of the illusion of the inclusion of queer people, but it’s not an issue that happens just over the summer.
If you’re looking to give money to companies that support queer people, remember to research how that company treats it’s LGBTQ employees, and if they are actually owned by a larger corporation that donates to anti-LGBTQ causes (as is so often the case!) Giving monetary support to queer organizations is a great way to get involved, but making sure they’re having the intended impact is crucial. For more peace of mind, consider researching and donating to local groups, where your contribution should directly impact your community. (And who often need support beyond Pride month!)