The Celebration Of Pride Month
Every June, the world bursts forth in celebration of Pride Month, designated to share in the history and lived experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride is an opportunity to learn about the struggles and triumphs of the community, as well as a time to grow in allyship and strengthen understanding.
But what happens when you don’t know where you stand? For many, pride is a process because their identity reveals itself over time. This could be due to family or societal pressure to stifle your identity, a lack of perceived safety around coming out, or many other reasons. Studies have shown that LGBTQIA+ youth face higher incidences of homelessness and poorer mental health, as well as ongoing safety risks in society. Even in a loving and affirming home, it can feel scary or tricky when navigating your identity in what can feel like a new world. So…how do you do it? Here are a few things to consider as you step into Pride Month:
Feel Free to Explore
There are many different queer identities, and it can be hard to know exactly what they mean or where you fall. Take time to learn about how others identify and their experiences, and consider what your own experiences have taught you about yourself. Many of the identities may not fit, and that’s okay! You may find yourself on different spectrums of either gender or sexuality, and both categories can be fluid for any person. Allow yourself time to learn and cultivate who you are. It doesn’t have to come together this June for your Pride Month experience to be valid.
Identify Your Safe Space
A common challenge for those who are questioning their identity is knowing who is safe to share with and who isn’t. Unfortunately, there are some whose families are less than accepting or might lack understanding. Outing yourself to family or friends is not a required part of the pride process, particularly if you feel that doing so may cause harm. Creating a safe space can be done by surrounding yourself with anyone who you feel will accept and honor who you are. This could be family, friends, coworkers, classmates, or anyone that can share in the process with you. If you are struggling to find those individuals, then there are support groups and different resources that can connect you with the people you need!
Educate Yourself on LGBTQIA+ History
Pride is often generated in different communities when one feels a connection to the history of those in their community. The LGBTQIA+ community has been an integral part of world history, as well as a catalyst for social change around the world. Educate yourself on the many LGBTQIA+ activists and what they have done to shape culture and society. Feel free to ask those in your safe space, or as an ally, ask those around you who their favorite activist is and why.
Come Out….Or Don’t!
There are many ways, big and small, to come out once you’ve decided. You might choose to share on social media, join an organization, or have an internal coming out party to honor who you are. The decision to come out is a deeply personal and individual choice. There is no timeframe or guideline for when to do it or how. You will know when you’re ready, and who you are ready to tell. Be mindful of your safety, and do not feel obligated to come out to anyone that will jeopardize your safety. Remember, you are not barred from celebrating pride in your own way if you decide you’re not ready to come out. The process of exploring and honoring your identity is a lifelong process, and it can look however you want it to!
This blog was written by Imani Crawford, MSW, LCSWA.