Why do we Celebrate Pride Month?
In June we celebrate Pride Month — a time of political activism and of celebration. It’s a tribute to the achievements that have been made in the fight for equal rights, a recognition of the contributions LGBTQ2S+ people have made toward a better world and a memorial to members of the community who have lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. It’s also an occasion that marks a major turning point within the LGBT+ community and in societal attitudes.
Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Uprising and the catalyst for the Gay Liberation Movement. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City’s West Village. Raids were commonplace at the time, but on this particular night, the bar patrons fought back. Within six months, two gay activist clubs were formed, and a year later, the first Pride march was held in New York City to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Although prejudices and injustices continue, the movement has made great strides since the 1969 uprising. By taking part in Pride Month, we are continuing a 50-year-plus tradition to promote the dignity, equal rights and self-affirmation of LGBTQ2S+ people and to increase awareness of the issues they still face.
United States Library of Congress
Why your LGBTQ2S+ co-workers, friends need your support
There’s a growing body of evidence to show that LGBTQ2S+ people are more vulnerable to mental health issues because of discrimination and the social determinants of positive health and wellbeing. Research compiled by Rainbow Health Ontario and CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Ontario underline these disparities. It found:
- Higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm, and substance use among LGBTQ2S+ people
- Double the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than heterosexual people
- LGBTQ2S+ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual peers
- 77% of trans respondents in an Ontario-based survey had seriously considered suicide and 45% had attempted suicide
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing mental health issues related to your sexual orientation, be sure seek out professional assistance.
In addition to Rainbow Health Ontario and CMHA, here’s where you might get the help you need online or by phone.
It Gets Better Campaign – A campaign through which supportive LGBTQ2S+ people and allies share supportive messages through online videos.
Kids Help Phone – Children and youth ages 5 to 20 can speak with trained counsellors at Kids Health Phone (1-800-668-6868).
Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans YouthLine – The Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans YouthLine offers free peer support for youth aged 26 and under (1-800-268-9688).
Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – PFLAG is a resource for LGBTQ2S+people and their families.
How you can be a Pride ally and friend
It’s important to stand up and speak out our LGBTQ2S+ colleagues, friends and family members and to continue the work those early activists started for justice and fairness back in 1969. An ally, straight ally, or heterosexual ally is a heterosexual and cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ2S+ social movements.
Here’s how you can be ally to the LGBTQ2S+ community at work, at home and in our wider communities:
- Understand the true meaning of Pride; learn about the community’s long history of struggle
- Show up for the community every day, not just for the party
- Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight and give those that are coming out the support and space they need
- Defend your LGBTQ2S+ friends when you see discrimination and check on them when they encounter hate; LGBTQ2S+ people are disproportionally affected by mental health issues due in no small part to discrimination
- Show your support on social by retweeting, liking and sharing posts that celebrate Pride month
- Join in events that help raise public awareness, improve societal attitudes and encourage inclusiveness