Powerful, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Pride Month
Whether you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or count yourself as an ally, Pride Month offers a variety of opportunities for support—and celebration. "It is not easy living life as an LGBTQ+ person; there is so much hate and discrimination out there from politicians and the Supreme Court to the workplace and even within families," says Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events. "Use Pride to celebrate, uplift, and encourage the queer people in your life as they are very likely secretly battling things you have no idea about. Cheer them on and be there for them in June—and beyond!" Here, Meyer and event designers Preston Bailey, Chanda Monique Daniels of A Monique Affair, and Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events share their best ideas for making a powerful, meaningful impact—something that begins at home. "Teach your children and family about being inclusive," says Daniels. "That's how we create a world where people can safely be celebrated all year round."
Use Your Voice
One of the most effective ways to honor the importance of Pride Month is to speak up. "Make your allyship clear, out loud and proud!" says Meyer. "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." This isn't just a June-only endeavor, either; it's a year-round task. "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," says Meyer. "Being an ally takes work—please use your privilege to help the lives of others."
Daniels agrees: "Advocate when issues come up within your communities. 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."
Create a Can't-Miss Show of Support
Rafanelli, who was responsible for the rainbow light display on the White House after the Supreme Court's Oberfell vs. Hodges decision, creates similar looks—on a smaller scale—each year. "The best way you can continue to show your Pride is to express it in visual ways," he says. "I light up the tower of my house—I live in a church—and a firehouse. Both places have a tower and I always light them up in the rainbow colors to shine my gratitude for all the folks that sacrificed their safety and well-being to let me be who I am." He also takes the opportunity to thank allies for their support. "I write notes to my closest friends and clients that have always been supportive of me, the LGBTQ+ community, and equality in general," says Rafanelli, who keeps rainbow-themed cards specifically for this purpose. "It's important to keep the stories alive and to show your appreciation for the tough times and the good times. I have so many people who welcomed me with open arms when I came out and supported me and always made me feel special, but equal to everyone else."
In addition, Bailey suggests throwing a small, COVID-19-safe party for your nearest and dearest. "Feel free to gather with a few good friends," he says. "Make sure you have a great playlist of the top hits of the many decades since 1969. To make it interesting, create a special dress code. You can have tons of fun with this one."
Volunteer Your Resources
Donating your time or money to help organizations that support LGBTQ+ efforts provides critical resources to groups who need them most. "Find a cause that you connect with and help them year-round, not just in June," says Meyer, who recommends the Ali Forney Center, which provides assistance to homeless LGBTQ+ people. "Sadly, the LGBTQ+ community has some of the highest rates of suicide and homelessness. So much help is needed, and you can make a difference!" And remember, he says: Support does not always have to be money. "Give your time, use your voice, or any resources you have."
Rafanelli donates to The Trevor Project, "a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning young people under 25," he says. "The community and world have come a long, long way since I first came out, but it's important to remember that young people are discriminated against and need our support when they come out to their parents, family, and friends." Daniels suggests getting involved at a local level. "Visit your local LGBTQ+ community center and see where help is needed," she says. "Volunteer to be a mentor or coach to an LGBTQ+ youth. I believe in planting seeds and helping others create the community they can thrive in."