Welcome to another installment of our new “Defining” series, where we unpack various terms and identities. Do you have a word that needs defining? Let us know!
“Pride,” also known as Gay Pride or LGBTQIA Pride, generally refers to the monthlong celebration of LGBTQIA history. The tradition began to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which is considered to be the start of the LGBTQIA rights movement. Most major U.S. cities, like Boston and San Francisco, hold Pride celebrations in June in collaboration with LGBTQIA Pride Month. However, not all do. My hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana holds Pride celebrations in June and Dallas, Texas celebrates theirs in September! Even moreso than a singular event or month, Pride refers to have pride in ourselves and in our identities, despite much of society telling us that our sexuality and our gender identities are something to hide.
Pride is an important time for many LGBTQIA folks. It’s a celebration of how far LGBTQIA rights have come in the past 50 years (such as marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the inclusion of sexual and gender identity in federal hate crime laws) as well as a reminder that there is still a long, long way to go.
For many, Pride events are some of the few (or possibly only) times where they can be their true selves. Many LGBTQIA folks face daily obstacles, such as hate crimes and employment discrimination, based on their sexual or gender identities. Others are forced to hide their identities from their families, friends, coworkers, and loved ones for fear of ostracization or abandonment. Pride is an opportunity to feel accepted, loved, and whole in a world that often feels void of those things.
Further, Pride is much more than just an opportunity to feel accepted, it’s an opportunity to feel proud! Jump up and down, sing at the top of your lungs, cover yourself in rainbows proud! Proud of being a queer person, a queer ally, or a parent or family member of a queer person. Pride festivals, parades, and events offer LGBTQIA folks a place to enjoy being queer and being a part of the queer community. Pride also offers LGBTQIA allies the opportunity to publicly embrace the queer community and show their support. (Remember–you don’t have to identify as LGBTQIA to attend Pride events!)
So, what should you expect at Pride? Pride celebrations often include a combination of the following: festivals, parades, concerts, vigils, dances, and other social gatherings. Parades are perhaps the most common (and exciting) events at Pride. Pride parades stem from a long history of marginalized groups publically organizing to raise awareness about social issues. Pride parades bring together a community of people, both queer folks and allies, to demonstrate public support for LGBTQIA rights.
If you’re planning on going to a Pride parade for the first time remember to check the start/end times so you don’t miss the procession, wear comfortable clothes so you can jump and dance along with the music, and keep an open mind! Every Pride parade is unique. If you want more information about Pride parades near you, I recommend contacting the organization in charge of your city’s Pride and asking them for an itinerary.
• Pride is only for gay people. Pride is for everyone—gay, straight, bisexual, queer, transgender, young, old. If your child, friend, neighbor, or a family member invites you to a Pride event, don’t feel out of place! In fact, attending pride with your loved ones is a great way to show your support for the LGBTQIA community.
• Pride is just for adults. Nope, Pride is for everyone! Many Pride festivals and events are all-ages or have all-ages events. Check your local Pride organization for more information.
• Pride is inherently sexual. Definitely not. While some Pride parades and festivities highlight freedom of sexual expression, Pride is not an inherently sexual event. Most Pride festivals have community guidelines in order to keep Pride parades and festivals acceptable for all ages.
• Pride happens all year round. Not exactly. While there are often local Pride organizations that host year-round meetings or events, Pride refers to a specific month where LGBTQIA history and culture is celebrated.
Amanda lives in Indiana with her growing family of felines and books. She recently earned her BA in Women’s Studies and English and hopes to use her knowledge and skills to destroy the patriarchy, or at the very least create more spaces for communication and engaged activism. Amanda’s hobbies include infrequently blogging, working with nonprofit organizations, rereading Harry Potter, and caring about things. Follow on Twitter @amandandwords