Written By: Annalise McDowell
You may be wondering why the LGBTQIA Pride blog has waited until July to find the surface. Well, pride month is worth celebrating every month, whether you’re an ally or a member of the community. Reading Pride is right around the corner this weekend, July 18th in Muhlenberg, so let’s chit chat about all the great things Pride entails.
Pride celebrations are founded on the basis of kindness, acceptance, and comfort in our similarities AND differences. For generations, individuals had to hide and mask their true selves to meet societal standards. They risked assault, harassment, unemployment, homelessness, and even death if they showed their true selves. Black and brown LGBTQIA activists are particularly impacted by homophobia and hate groups to this day, and without their advocacy, we wouldn’t have pride at all. Today, LGBTQIA communities continue to face life threatening and life altering experiences. 2021 was the deadliest year since 2013 for trans individuals, with at least 50 murders and 275 murders world wide. We remember Matthew Shepard, and the many assaults that took place before and after his murder. As our country continues to experience a political divide, we are continuing to see hate groups disrupting pride events, protesting LGBTQIA visibility in schools and public settings, and skyrocketed suicide rates amongst LGBTQIA teens and young adults.
So, with that in mind, while corporations and town squares pack up their pride merchandise and flags on July 1st, let’s see how we can keep pride alive, all year long.
- Join a parade. Yes, this one is a given, but if you haven’t joined one yet, I highly suggest you give it a try. Understandably, with COVID-19 cases fluctuating, some may want to avoid the crowds.
- Volunteer with a local organization. Reading Pride and the LGBTQ Center of Reading are two great local organizations to get involved with. Additionally, The Montgomery County (PA) LGBTQ+ School Safety Consortium, or the SAGA community center offer volunteer and professional opportunities to get involved.
These things, however, may be easier to accomplish in June, than any other month. Additionally, as an introvert myself, it can be easy to get overwhelmed in a new space, with new people. Thankfully, there are more subtle ways you and your family can celebrate pride every day of the year.
- Read books, magazines, articles, and enjoy other media publications by LGBTQIA identifying writers and producers. Acknowledging, and appreciating another individual’s life perspective is a key piece of celebrating pride. The subject matter doesn’t have to be LGBTQIA necessarily. It’s about supporting LGBTQIA authors and the producers of the content. I, myself, and partial to a good podcast. Some great ones include “Thank you for coming out”, “That’s Spooky: A true crime podcast”, and NPR’s “Be Seen” podcast.
- Shop LGBTQIA small businesses. There is never “too much” shopping at local, small businesses. Taking an extra moment to search up a store online, often will help you learn just a bit more about the people running the show. Shopping at LGBTQIA owned storefronts supports not only the allied business, but also supports the community’s visibility.
It’s never too late to be an ally, just because June is over. Pride is here to celebrate our community’s diversity, through love, acceptance, and kindness. Those are some pretty great things to celebrate all year long.