Every month of June, we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual plus (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City. This month is dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQIA+ voices, celebration of queer culture, ending of stigma and support for equal rights in America and around the world. For members of our team who identify as LGBTQIA+, this is a particularly important month. After two years of being in a pandemic, many of us are extremely excited to see that Pride events are finally back, such as the annual Pride parade in San Francisco and Los Angeles. We can’t wait to be able to join the festivities in-person again.
Although Pride Month can be a time of joy, fun and celebrations, we also understand that each person’s relationship with Pride may differ. The fight for equality is far from over. There are members of our community who still lack the support systems to come out about our gender or sexual identity or live in areas where stigma and discrimination makes it difficult to celebrate Pride. Even once we come out, many of us may still feel excluded from the “mainstream” LGBTQIA+ community. There can be a lot of pressure to look or act a certain way. As a result, Pride can represent yet another cause for anxiety or loneliness. We want you to know that your feelings matter and are valid. Your mental health should always come first and we encourage you to make it a priority this Pride Month. Here are some ways you can do so:
Celebrating Pride is a choice, and there is no one right way of doing it. For example, while some of us may enjoy attending Pride parades, parties, marches or protests, others may choose to keep it more low-key and celebrate at home alone and learn more about the history of the LGBTQ movement or invite a few friends for a small get-together to watch LGBTQIA+ movies.
In addition, online celebrations can be a more accessible option for those who haven’t come out or who aren’t able to attend events in-person (whether it be because of location or because they are still nervous about COVID).
The bottom line is that there is no “right way” to be involved in Pride Month, and you can choose to do what is best for your specific situation and mental health!
With packed calendars and lots of social media posts, it can be easy to feel burnout or FOMO during Pride Month. The key to managing these feelings is to be mindful of your needs and feelings. Attending Pride events can be a lot of fun, but it can also be exhausting, especially if you are juggling other commitments. If you do choose to go to Pride events like marches, remember to take breaks when you need to. If you are at an event and you start to feel overwhelmed, take a moment to step aside and breathe to calm down. There is also no shame in going home early or deciding to skip some events to take care of yourself.
The same is true about social media during Pride Month – it’s okay to close out the apps, say no to the feed of shirtless photos, and choose to read a good book instead.
Connect with others
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on all of our social lives. If you have been struggling with feelings of loneliness, Pride Month can be a great chance to get out of your slump and rejuvenate your social life!
Our community is diverse enough that chances are, however you’re feeling or however you want to celebrate, there are many others feeling the same way. Pride events can be a great opportunity to build authentic and deep connections, if done mindfully and choicefully. It may not be the obvious events and parties, but there is something out there for everyone – even for those who don’t celebrate at all!
Lean on the support of your friends and family (whether biological or chosen) and be open to meeting new people who could be your future chosen family. Research shows that when we feel like part of the community, our sense of well-being increases, we start to feel more confident and accepted, and ultimately, our mental health significantly improves.
If you need extra support, talking to a therapist can be a great way to explore your feelings, or help you deal with the common issues that arise during Pride and all other months of the year, such as anxiety and self-esteem issues. reflect can help you find a therapist that is a great fit for you based on data driven matching. 40% of our therapists are LGBTQIA+ and can help you discuss specific challenges relevant to our community. Click here to get matched to a therapist today!