For many individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, Pride Month is a source of joy, connection, validation, fun, and so much more. For those who are still figuring out their queer identity, have not come out, or who do not see their LGBTQ+ identity as primary, Pride Month can serve as a source of anxiety or a reminder of unrealized goals.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month originally began as Pride Day, which celebrated the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, New York City (known as The Stonewall Riots). However, Pride Day quickly grew into a month’s long celebration of the Stonewall uprising and the countless contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals to art, culture, science, academia and so much more, both nationally and internationally.
Pride Month celebrations can take many forms including pride parades, educational events, community gatherings, art exhibitions, workshops, activism, and parties according to the Library of Congress. Pride Month began as a riot that grew into a celebration of life, legacy, connection, and living life authentically. Individuals who attend Pride events may identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, many allies of the LGBTQ+ community join in the pride celebrations as well. An ally is anyone who does not identify as an LGBTQ+ individual but believes in equality for LGBTQ+ people and celebrates their identity.
Why Can Pride Month Be Difficult for Some?
For many, Pride Month can be a source of strong connection, joy, and acceptance. However, for some Pride Month can be a reminder of their unrealized identities or lack of support system surrounding their LGBTQ+ identities.
Those who Fear Coming Out
So many individuals in this country and around the world live in fear of the emotional or physical consequence of coming out. Many people worry that they will not be accepted, or worse, be ostracized from their families or communities if they reveal their LGBTQ+ identity. In many parts of the US and abroad, individuals fear for their safety and do not to come out to avoid physical harm or imprisonment.
Those Who Do Not Yet Fully Understand Their LGBTQ+ Identity
Many individuals who feel safe and supported by their family and community still struggle with their identity during Pride Month. Some folks experience a lack of understanding of their identity. These individuals may have just begun their journey of realizing their LGBTQ+ identity and feel as if they do not fit in queer spaces comfortably. These individuals may experience pressure either internally or externally to understand their sexuality or gender expression fully. They may avoid Pride spaces to avoid experiencing anxiety or pressure.
Those Who Do Not Experience Their LGBTQ+ Identity as One of Their Primary Identities
Some LGBTQ+ folks do not view their sexuality or gender identity as their primary identity. These folks may choose to participate in celebrations and activism surrounding other identities that feel more important to them. These individuals may experience pressure or guilt for passing on Pride Events despite their LGBTQ+ identity.
Seeking Support if You Are Struggling
Pride Month is meant to remember those who fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ folks across time. It is meant to be a source of joy and connection for LGBTQ+ and allied folks, alike. However, if Pride Month is a source of anxiety or sadness for you here are a few tips for seeking support.
Seek Support Online
Many individuals who have not come out for fear of judgment or lack of safety find online spaces very helpful. Seeking support online can provide anonymity to speak freely to and gain support from others who are experiencing the same fear.
Seek Support from A Trusted Person
It can be very helpful to identify one person who will support you surrounding you LGBTQ+ identity without judgement. This individual may be someone who has experienced similar struggles on their path to their LGBTQ+ identity or an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
Seek Support though Therapy
Going to therapy with a therapist who is well versed in LGBTQ+ individuals’ concern can be very helpful. Many therapists will advertise as being an LGBTQ+ person themselves or an ally. Therapy is a confidential space to discuss your concerns and sort out anxieties surrounding your identity.
Pride Month and one’s own connection to it looks vastly different for everyone. It is important to remember that each persons’ experience is unique and there is no “right” way to celebrate Pride.