June has been designated a month of celebration in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) community for decades. This month, LGBTQ individuals and allies come together to celebrate the strides that have been made toward equality and acceptance for LGBTQ individuals. During Pride Month, participants across the globe unite to celebrate diversity and to exhibit pride in who they are while supporting one another.
Millions of people celebrate Pride Month by taking part in parades, marches, concerts, educational workshops, parties, and media events. Together, the LGBTQ community recognizes individuals and groups for their contributions to the cause, while holding memorials for those in the community who have died as a result of hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
History of Pride Month
Historians point to the Stonewall riots in late June of 1969 as the true catalyst of the gay liberation movement in the U.S. The riots broke out when the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police for illegally selling alcohol to homosexual customers.
The LGBTQ community rose up in anger and began to unify in protest. In June of 1970, the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee held the first Gay Pride March, spawning the fight for LGBTQ equality.
The globally recognized rainbow flag was created in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, an American artist and gay rights advocate. Baker has described his color choice as symbolic: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and violet for spirit.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton proclaimed June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and in 2009, President Barack Obama recognized June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
Celebrating During the Pandemic
As with many other events, COVID-19 has impacted this year’s celebration of Pride Month. Organizers have canceled many planned public gatherings or will present them virtually through online platforms.
Despite the disruption, the organization Global Pride invites people worldwide to visit their website on June 27, 2020, to join the Pride festivities. The celebration will include musical and artistic performances, speeches from activists and campaigners, and addresses by public figures. They promise to stream 24 hours of content that celebrates the beautiful diversity of LGBTQ people everywhere.
Cities of all sizes have virtual events scheduled throughout Pride Month. Oprah Magazine provides an excellent guide and links to many exciting and unique functions.
The Quest for Equality Continues
Although LGBTQ individuals have made progress, discrimination and stigma continue to take a heavy toll on the LGBTQ community. NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, estimates that about 30 percent of the LGBTQ community struggles with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Studies have also identified a higher rate of eating disorders, tobacco dependence, depression, and other mental disorders among LGBTQ individuals.
It is estimated that the overall rate of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco in the LGBTQ community is 2 to 4 times higher than that of the general population.
According to the NAADAC, social prejudice, insufficient health care resources, bullying, isolation, and low self-esteem may contribute to higher rates of substance use and mental disorders in the LGBTQ community.
Luckily, celebrations like Pride Month continue to offer great support and inspiration to LGBTQ individuals.
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