So June is Pride Month… what does that mean?

June is a special month for the LGBTQIA community – it’s Pride Month and it’s celebrated by members of the LGBTQIA community and their allies. Here’s a brief summary of some common questions people ask about Pride Month.

LGBTQIA, that’s a lot of letters – what do they all mean?

LGBTQ is an acronym meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. This term has recently been extended to LGBTQIA to include intersex and asexual group.  Queer is an umbrella term for non-straight people, intersex refers to those whose sex is not clearly defined because of genetic, hormonal or biological differences and asexual describes those who don’t experience sexual attraction.

What is Pride Month and how did it start?

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, and began hauling customers outside. Tensions quickly escalated as people resisted arrest and a growing crowd of bystanders threw bottles and coins at the police. New York’s gay community, fed up after years of harassment by authorities, broke out in neighborhood riots that lasted for three days.  The uprising became a rallying point for the emerging gay rights movement as organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance were formed.  These and other organizations were modeled after the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. Members held protests, met with political leaders and interrupted public meetings to hold leaders accountable.  A year after the Stonewall Riot the nation’s first Gay Pride marches were held.

Where does the name “Pride” come from?

Largely attributed to Brenda Howard a bisexual New York activist who organized the first Pride parade to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

What’s up with the rainbow flag?

In 1978 artist and designer Gilbert Baker was commissioned by San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk – one of first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. – to make a flag for the city’s upcoming Pride celebrations.  Baker, a prominent gay rights activist, gave a nod to the stripes of the American flag, but drew inspiration for the rainbow to reflect the diversity within the gay community. There are updated versions of the rainbow flag that acknowledge transgender and LGNTQIA people of color.

Can I participate in Pride events if I’m not LGBTQIA?

Absolutely! Pride events welcome allies from outside the LGBTQIA community – there are opportunities to show support, observe, listen and be educated.

Why is Pride Month important, now more than ever?

As a LGBTQIA affirming behavioral health provider, THS recognizes that LGBTQIA are more likely to experience mental health and substance issues and need the recovery support we provide.  LGBTQIA individuals:

  • Are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder within their lifetime
  • Are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals
  • If transgender and identifying as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native or Multiracial/mixed Race are at increased risk of suicice attempts than white transgender individuals
  • Age 24 and younger have a rate of suicide attempts that is four times greater for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of heterosexual youth
  • Are more likely to be victims of violence compared with their heterosexual peers – the risk of experiencing violence is even higher for undocumented and racial/ethnic minority LGBTQIA individuals
  • Age 24 and younger have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness – often the result of family rejection or discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This risk is especially high among African American/Black and Native American/Alaska Native LGBTQIA youth and young adults.

Whether you are a member of the LGBTQIA community or an ally, we wish you a happy Pride Month!