What is Pride Month beyond seeing rainbows everywhere during the month of June? Pride Month occurs every June and is the commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Police entered the Stonewall Inn in New York and arrested patrons who were openly gay and not wearing at least three items of “gender-appropriate” clothing. This led to patrons protesting and rioting against the unfairness.
Since then, members of the LGBTQI community participate in activities like parades, meetings and more that celebrate the beautiful rainbow that the spectrum of gender and sexuality is. And yes, you do see rainbows everywhere from stores to streets. Personally, I was excited to see what the stores have stocked for Pride Month this year and found things like clothing and even gingerbread houses. I always get a new shirt and wear it proudly as a lifelong LGTBQi ally and supporter.
When I sat down to write this, I was excited to support my child this year when attending Pride events. My child came out about a year ago as transgender, and I was thinking how happy I am that my child finally can put into words the feelings of not belonging, not fitting in, and not feeling authentic in their body. I envisioned a world where inclusivity is a given and my child who is to turn 20, could be happy and healthy.
Instead, I am fearful of the political landscape. I am afraid that my beautiful trans daughter will be forced to live without the hormones that make her feel good about herself. I am fearful that the depression and anxiety will return and my child will end up stuck in a body that does not match what she feels on the inside.
What Pride Month means to me
This brings me to the main point of what I’m writing about. What does Pride Month mean to me? Pride Month is the opportunity to openly support loved ones including family members and friends.
I volunteer at different events, I share information, and I give Mom hugs to those LGBTQI community members who do not have support from their loved ones. (I even have a shirt that says Free Mom Hugs!) I advocate. *Side note, I did all of this before my child came out as transgender to me.
Pride Month support year round
Working in mental health and having clients who are LGTBQI shows me that Pride should be year-round, not just a month-long event. Fear keeps members of the LGBTQI community quiet. This should not be the case, nor the norm. So how does someone make Pride a year-round thing? How does one get past the fear? It doesn’t have to involve wearing colorful clothing or showing up at parades. It also involves support and education.
Educate yourself and be supportive
Learn about pronouns, gender fluidity, deadnames and preferred names. Provide support, if you meet someone or have a family member or friend who tells you their pronouns, use them. Use their preferred name, and don’t deadname. If you forget, apologize and move on. Don’t intentionally use wrong pronouns or deadnames.
Members of the LGBTQI community are not trying to convert you. They just want respect. They want to be seen and heard, and they want to be able to live their lives like someone who is cisgender and heterosexual.
Be an activist in a quiet way
Volunteer if you feel led to do so at events during Pride month. Donate to LGBTQI organizations or shop at LGBTQI-owned companies. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
Take everything you read with a grain of salt. Don’t let social media and news reports fool you into thinking that celebrating Pride Month or being an ally or supporter is wrong. Buying Pride Month clothing from stores doesn’t mean that you are trying to change other people’s minds or take their rights away. Supporting an openly LGBTQI designer doesn’t mean forcing your child to be something they are not. What it does is send a message that people have a choice and that they are accepted and supported in this crazy mixed-up world.
Celebrating Pride Month
Pride Month is near and dear to my heart, both as a mom and a therapist. I will be attending Pride events in my rainbow-emblazoned clothing, giving out hugs and showing support. I will celebrate Pride all year round by respecting my clients, giving them a safe space to talk and using their correct pronouns and preferred names. I will continue to advocate for my child and educate those that are willing to learn. I will not force my beliefs on anyone beyond that we are all deserving to be seen and heard.
Written by: Jennifer Kiblinger, MA – PHP Teen Therapist