6 ways to celebrate Pride (wherever you are)
This June, many of the traditional ways to celebrate Pride month—large parades and festivals, brunches, parties, and the like—are on pause until further notice. While certainly a disheartening blow, it also presents us with an opportunity to reinvest in what is at the heart of those celebrations. The spirit of the month is about coming together to show love and acceptance, as well as affirm identities that haven't always been told they're worth celebrating. That message shouldn't be forgotten just because parades are cancelled, you are continuing to social distance, or you live in a remote area.
Recognizing this year's Pride month will be different, here are six suggestions on how you can still ensure it is meaningful:
1. Learn your history
It is hard to imagine how we move forward from our current moment if we do not understand the people, events, and legislation that brought us here. As many of us look to where Pride can be a source of inspiration for other efforts toward justice, it might be helpful to recognize our deeply rooted history as an intersectional coalition of people. For example, did you know Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Riviera played integral roles in the Pride movement through their efforts in the Stonewall Riots? Or, did you know that New York’s drag ball culture dates back to the first Annual Odd Fellows Ball in Harlem in 1869?
Whatever your existing level of knowledge, there are always greater depths or new threads to explore. As you stand proudly in your identity, take some time this month to learn about the shoulders you are standing on.
2. Share your story
For many, the process of coming out isn’t easy. For those who can, sharing your personal story can be a deep act of solidarity and support for others in our community. Talking with a friend, or even sharing more broadly on social media, can help others feel less alone. You can share your story a thousand times in a thousand different ways. It doesn't need to be a long caption under a perfectly-photographed picture. Sharing your story can be as easy as expressing your fondest memories of the LGBTQ+ community through song lyrics or a favorite quote, like this one from Harvey Milk:
"All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential."
3. Practice loving and accepting others
This one can sound simple, but it is much harder than we would like to believe and much more important than we often acknowledge. The heart is a muscle, truly seeing and accepting other people requires that you exercise your heart's capacity for love. It is easy to bury ourselves in the immediate or to lose ourselves in the irrelevant, and so we have to consciously build our capacity to love one another every day. If you're an ally, send an encouraging message to your LGBTQ+ friend. A text, video chat, or call to offer some words of love and appreciation can go a long way in showing your true support of your queer friends. Similarly, being intentional and respectful when asking for someone's preferred pronouns is crucial to creating a more inclusive culture. While it may seem obvious, remember to take time to talk with queer people about things other than being queer. (We like movies, food, and sports, too!)
You can never go wrong with simply saying, "I see you and I love you."
4. Support LGBTQ+ businesses
One impact of COVID-19 is increased financial hardship within the LGBTQ+ community as 40% of us work in industries more likely to be affected. Small businesses have been especially hurt by social distancing and shelter in place orders, so help keep the community open by spending your extra money with them. Gifting some witty merchandise from a queer-owned brand or virtually tipping your favorite performer who's hosting a live show on social media could go a long way. Leidos is also doing our part by being a member of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and we look forward to an upcoming corporate training on transgender and gender non-conforming supply chain inclusion.
5. Give back, virtually
Of course, money isn't the only way to show your support. There are many organizations that offer ways to be an "at-home advocate" including petition campaigns or mentoring LGTBQ+ youth through texts as they work on finding ways to come out. Don't let your financial situation preclude you from contributing the community. Even if you are not in a position to donate your time or money, sharing resources online for others can be a meaningful way to advocate for their work and help others who may have the time or money to contribute but do not know where to start.
6. Stay informed about rescheduled (or reimagined) Pride events
Although the parades of many cities and towns have been cancelled, we still don't know exactly what Pride month will look like as it stretches across the second half of the year. Stay on top of the latest news on rescheduled parades or parade-alternatives in your area by following the official Pride social media accounts. You can also reach out to local LGBTQ+ organizations to see what virtual parties or fall/winter events are planned.