It's time to celebrate one of the most fun and exciting months of the year, you guys: Pride Month! June is designated as Pride Month to celebrate and honor the LGBTQ+ community and what we've accomplished, as well as raise awareness for issues that we're still working on. And in addition to the Pride parades and festivals that many cities host during this time of year, there are loads of unique ways to celebrate Pride Month out there, too — especially if you dig a little deeper and look a little closer.
You're probably already aware that there's tons of glitter, rainbows, and tiaras to go around when it comes time for the Pride Parade in your area, or that turning your profile picture into a rainbow signifies that you're a supporter of LGBTQ rights. Still, there's a lot more you can do to celebrate Pride month, whether it means chilling at your computer or going out into your local community. Pride is all about celebrating our diversity and what makes us unique, and luckily, there's a lot of different ways for people to feel involved in and connected within our community.
While we've made major progress in terms of LGBTQ equality, particularly in terms of same-sex marriage, there are still tons of barriers and obstacles facing the queer community. Pride Month is about celebration, but also about education, activism, and awareness, so check out the list below for suggestions on how to have fun and give back to your queer community:
1. Consume LGBTQ+ Positive Media
While the LGBTQ community does get some representation in the media, it's often not good. Queer characters are often presented as villains in movies, TV shows, and books, either as a means of characterizing them as "seedy," "undesirable," or "insane" (this last one being especially loaded, since homosexuality was listed in the DSM until 1973), or because they were "tricksters" or "manipulators." Clearly, this is not a good image for the queer community, and it's especially problematic when there are so few positive examples of LGBTQ people in the media to counteract it.
Instead, celebrate Pride month from the comfort of your couch and watch or read positive representations of LGBTQ culture. There are a ton of documentaries on the queer community, as well as television shows and movies that depict healthy, happy relationships between same-sex couples. Because we all deserve to see a love story that doesn't end in death or drama, am I right?
It's a great idea to check out indie LGBT movies for positive depictions of queer relationships, as well as the growing genre of YA LGBT books, and LGBT memoirs from people who are out in cultures across the globe. Here are a few titles to get you started: The Times of Harvey Milk, But I'm A Cheerleader, Tangerine, Carol, The Way He Looks, Love Of Siam, and Broken Hearts Club. And of course, The L Word, Orange is the New Black, and Modern Family take the cake for feel-good viewing with depictions of happy, functional same-sex couples and queer individuals.
2. Volunteer At Your Local LGBTQ Community Center
Volunteering at your local LGBTQ community center may not sound celebration-worthy, but trust me, it totally is. Whether you're volunteering to help people access free or affordable STI testing and treatment (or encouraging you and yours to go get tested yourselves) or mentoring LGBTQ youth, there are a lot of awesome opportunities to volunteer and support your local queer community.
A lot of us (myself included) grew up with very limited community spaces available for LGBTQ youth, and the lake of safe spaces for young LGBTQ people today is still an issue — it can feel very isolating for adolescents. If you have any sort of community space or resource near you, ask them how you can help out! There is no better feeling than volunteering. Trust me.
3. Support Your Local LGBTQ Business Owners
Who doesn't love the opportunity to shop? But seriously, it's always a good idea to shop small and shop local when you can, but it can be especially nice to do so during Pride Month. Even if LGBTQ business owners aren't selling merchandise specific to the queer community, it's still important to remember that diversity matters, including in the world of business and commerce. Support businesses run and operated by LGBTQ individuals, whether you're shopping there yourself or just recommending it to those in need of their services, as a way of supporting your fellow community members.
4. Check Out An LGBTQ-Friendly Burlesque Show
The queer community exists in all sorts of spaces, and depending on your interests, it can be really cool to explore the ways the queer community is particularly sex and body positive. For example, many places host LGBTQ-oriented burlesque shows and cabarets. These shows can definitely be fun to explore with your friends, your partner, or just yourself.
5. Celebrate Your LGBTQ Elders
While there are definitely still huge issues affecting the LGBTQ community, it's important to step back and remember how far we've come — and what the queer community decades older than us has experienced. A lot has changed over the years, and it can be easy for younger generations to forget what those before us had to navigate with fewer resources than we have now. Reading books and memoirs by LGBTQ people, watching documentaries, and even striking up conversations at your local Pride events can be great ways for you to educate yourself on the personal history of the queer movement.
6. Check Out LGBTQ Art And Museum Exhibits
Looking at culture and history through the lens of the art produced during that time can be an awesome way to learn more about yourself and those in your own community. Check out what museums are hosting LGBTQ-specific installments or themes during Pride Month, as well as what queer artists are showing their work in your area, whether or not their work is part of a Pride-specific exhibit. Check out the major museums and exhibits, but also be sure to keep an eye out for smaller, local settings where new artists may just be getting their foot in the door with their material. Art outings can make for great first dates, family bonding experience, or just "me time" afternoon outings for yourself.
Happy Pride, everyone!
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