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6 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Pride Month This 2019

By Alyssa Martinez @ItsMariaAlyssa

Every June, we commemorate LGBT Pride Month. This is likely a time that we associate with bright rainbow flags, energetic street parades, and slogans both as witty and as poignant as #LoveWins. But the personal joys that come with celebrating who one is, and who one loves, aren't the only aspects there are to Pride Month. The Pride movement also has deep sociopolitical significance, and it is meant to advocate the freedom, rights, and wellbeing of a diverse LGBTQIA community-even as persons belonging to this community continue to experience violence and discrimination because of their identity.

This year's Pride Month celebrations are of a particular significance, as June 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. On June 28, 1969, brave members of the LGBT community took a stand against wider issues facing them, such as police brutality. If your goal is to amplify LGBTQIA voices, support the wider growth of the community, and become a better ally to the movement, here are six meaningful ways you can contribute to the Pride festivities!

  1. March with loved ones. The annual parades are a highlight of Pride Month, and there might be one happening in your locality. Why don't you get the details and go with family, friends, or members of a club or organization that you're part of? You'll be able to enjoy the different sights and sounds of the parade-and more importantly, you can add to the count of warm bodies for the cause.
  2. Wear and display your colors. Outside of the parade setting, there's also the option to incorporate Pride Month's signature "rainbow" colors into your daily life. For example, you can order promotional lanyards in bulk emblazoned with messages of support, you can hang a rainbow flag outside of your home or business establishment, or you can attach a rainbow lapel pin to your shirt collar. These are great ways to communicate your pride, your values, and your support of the movement.
  3. Volunteer for initiatives that uphold LGBTQIA health and inclusivity. Though it has been decades since the HIV/AIDS crisis and four years since same-sex marriage was legalized in all fifty states of North America, many LGBTQIA persons are still in need of support for healthcare, legal assistance, and community programs that cater towards them. Help even out the odds by lobbying for inclusive spaces, or by donating to causes that are dear to the LGBTQIA community (such as accessibility to HIV/AIDS medicine and mental health services).
  4. Support LGBTQIA-owned businesses. LGBTQIA acceptance has become part of the mainstream over the years, and many big businesses now incorporate the rainbow in their marketing campaigns. All well and good if these companies are improving their public image and workplace culture to be more inclusive, but some may only be after the "Dorothy dollar" and do not actually donate proceeds from Pride-related sales to the betterment of LGBTQIA persons. If you want to make sure that your money will help improve someone else's life (without the screen of mainstream commercialization), then patronize small, independent, LGBTQIA-owned businesses. Buy products from them and advertise their brand to your personal network.
  5. Practice greater inclusivity in your everyday life, such as in your language. Gay lingo from shows such as RuPaul's Drag Race and Queer Eye has made its way into the American pop lexicon; it's not uncommon to hear people say "slay," "yassss kween!" or "shantay, you stay." Sadly, LGBTQIA people are also still the butt of derogatory jokes or slurs, and may also suffer distress when they are misgendered in language. Counter that by learning to be inclusive in your language; start by cutting off the (sometimes ingrained) associations of words like "gay" and "queer" with weakness, insufficiency, and inferiority. Don't be afraid as well to ask people what their pronouns are, and stick with what they prefer.
  6. Amplify the experiences of your LGBT loved ones. June is the time for members of the LGBTQIA community to be in the spotlight, to share their unique experiences, and to lead decision-making processes within the movement. If you do not identify as LGBTQIA and are participating in Pride as an ally, it's best to stay in your lane and support your LGBTQIA loved ones from the wings. Everyone will have the means to contribute to Pride, but it is the LGBTQIA people in your life who should be the most visible.

The Pride movement has come a long way since its origins in Stonewall, but the fight for greater inclusivity and equality lives on in us. Happy Pride, everyone, and here's to love winning!

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