Back on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City. Since then, Pride Month takes place every June. Throughout the month we all come together and support the LGBTQ community. Whether if that’s attending a parade, which has resumed as COVID restrictions have been uplifted, or becoming an advocate by encouraging more inclusivity at your place of work.
While you can have fun learning more about LGBT+ history and celebrating diversity, the fact of the matter is that many in the LGBT+ community are struggling with their mental health due to factors like not having support when coming out, being rejected by friends or family, and the trauma of bullying, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
Additionally, LGB adults are nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder, with transgender individuals being almost four times as likely as cisgender individuals. It’s also been estimated that LGBTQI youth and young adults have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness. And, the LGBTQI population is at a much higher risk than the heterosexual, cisgender population for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
As such, it’s incredibly important that make a meaningful impact during Pride month, as well as the entire year, by taking action in the following five ways.
1. Use your voice. "Make your allyship clear, out loud and proud!" says Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events. "Many LGBTQ+ people suffer in silence and fear coming out. If they know you are in their corner it makes things so much easier. Sadly, we cannot assume anyone is an ally, so we all have to be very vocal about our support for LGBTQ+ people."
"When you hear a homophobic remark, correct it; when you see hate crimes, stand up for the person being targeted; when you vote for your leaders, chose those who support us and our equal rights," Meyer says. "Being an ally takes work—please use your privilege to help the lives of others."
“Advocate when issues come up within your communities,” adds Chanda Monique Daniels of A Monique Affair. “Fight when you see laws that are discriminating against the basic rights of folks within the community. That will matter more than what you do within the timeframe of a month."
2. Become an ally. We just mentioned that using your voice is an effective way to be an ally to LGBT people. But what exactly is an ally and what other ways can you be one?
Being an ally is having a genuine and strong concern for the well-being of LGBT people. It’s also being supportive and accepting. And, it’s advocating for equal rights and fair treatment.
In addition to confronting and speaking up, you can also be an ally by:
Staying informed on LGBT-related news and issues, listening to people's thoughts and experiences, or educating yourself on policies, learning the history of Pride, or knowing key terms and concepts.
Support equality at school and work that will help protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Attend or view an LGBT+-themed show or movie. Visit an LGBT+ art gallery. Or buy an album from an LGBT+ artist.
Support businesses that support the LGBTQ community.
Hang a Pride flag outside your home or a Pride sticker on your car.
3. Volunteer or donate. If you have the time and/or financial availability, volunteer at a local LGBT+ youth or community center or through the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. You could also give monetary donations like the Anti-Violence Project, Human Rights Campaign, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, GLAAD, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Immigration Equality, Service & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the Transgender Law Center, and The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
4. Attend a Pride parade or festival. The Delaware Pride Festival, for example, will be held at Legislative Hall (411 Legislative Ave., Dover) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on October 2, 2021. For more info, visit delawarepride.org or call (302) 265-3020.
5. Become a mentor. Because of the rampant discrimination and bias that LGBTQ people face, mentoring and uplifting this marginalized group can make all the difference in the world. Whether if it’s connecting with a colleague or LGBTQ child, or even sharing your own experiences through social media, being a supportive and helpful mentor is one of the most impactful actions you can take.
And, if you feel that someone you know is in need of LGBTQI-competent care, gather referrals from;
Local LGBTQI community centers
Local LGBTQI health centers
LGBTQI community groups such as equality groups, health collectives, social organizations, support groups
And, if they’re reluctant to contact a trusted mental health professional, ask if you have their permission to call on their behalf.