By: Divya Venkataraman
The English language is suffused with expressions classified as “cliché” and “overused” — one of these being the common phrase “be yourself”. However, regardless of the way “be yourself” is often stigmatized as a cliché saying only for t-shirts, its connotation is something much more important than what meets the eye.
The phrase conveys a sense of support and understanding to the many people who ponder some of today’s most common questions regarding gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Discovering one’s identity can be confusing — and no one deserves to be shunned for their sense of identity; rather, we deserve to be welcomed and to “be ourselves”.
The month of June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month (often dubbed as “Pride Month”) — a month where, as stated by President Joseph R. Biden Jr., “we reflect on the progress we have made as a Nation in the fight for justice, inclusion and equality while reaffirming our commitment to do more to support LGBTQI+ rights at home and abroad”. We have made much progress when it comes to LGBTQI+ rights — however, there is much more work to be done. Pride Month allows us to celebrate our past wins, but also look towards creating an even more accepting community in the future.
Regardless of the progress we have made since the 1900s, we as a society have a long way to go in order to offer increased support and understanding to those within the LGBTQI+ community.
In a report examining employment discrimination and harassment against adults in the LGBTQI+ community — conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Williams Institute (School of Law) — 935 LGBT adults were surveyed. The report highlighted that 46% of LGBT workers have undergone unfair treatment at work, 38% of LGBT employees have experienced harassment at work, 50% of LGBT employees are not out to their current supervisors and 34% of LGBT employees have quit their job due to discrimination by their employer.
Discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community in the workforce is just one of the countless examples there are — from harassment in schools to abusive treatment even in the safety of one’s own home. As such, something to forward the movement for LGBTQI+ rights must be done; Pride Month offers a venue to do so, inspiring many organizations and charities to step up and support the LGBTQI+ community.
How Pride Month Helps
States and countries across the world have been indulging in several different events in honor of Pride Month — to increase support and funds for the LGBTQI+ community.
Los Angeles (LA) has recently launched their website — lapride.org — in partnership with TikTok; this website has a collection of several events being held in LA for Pride Month. For example, the “LA Pride Parade” was held on June 4, 2022, and the “Pride is Universal” party and Universal Studios Hollywood will be on June 24, 2022.
Dallas has recently launched their own website — dallaspride.org — to bring awareness to events being held in Dallas for Pride Month. For example, the “Pride Festival” was held on June 4, 2022, and the “Pride Parade” was held on June 5, 2022.
Meanwhile, Rome in Italy has launched their pride website — romapride.it — to celebrate events in Rome in honor of Pride Month. For example, Rome had their “MALE!” event on June 5, 2022, and a “PASOLINI” concert celebrating Pride Month on June 6, 2022.
These are just a few states and cities that have celebrated Pride Month in their own way — forwarding the LGBTQI+ movement while raising millions for the community.
Another unique way Pride Month has forwarded the LGBTQI+ movement is through the world’s top #1 most played popular video game: Minecraft. According to GamerTweak, Minecraft is the most played video game in the world as of 2022 with 238 million copies sold — beating the second-most played game by 83 million copies. The game has become so popular that Noxcrew — an official Minecraft partner and community of creators — has organized a Minecraft Championship (MCC) to be played each month; in this championship, popular Minecraft content creators team up and compete in a series of 9 Minecraft minigames.
For the past two years, Noxcrew has held an “MCC Pride” event during Pride Month where they encourage their millions of viewers to donate to The Trevor Project — the world’s largest crisis intervention suicide prevention organization for LGBTQI+ youth — to uncover secrets within the championship. Because of their large audience — hitting 2.25 million peak viewers according to esports charts — MCC Pride 2021 was able to donate $344,785.11 to The Trevor Project. MCC Pride 2022 took place on June 18, 2022, with viewers able to donate through Tiltify; so far, $146,780.00 has been donated!
Ultimately, there are several ways that Pride Month has encouraged different communities throughout the world to step up and contribute to the LGBTQI+ movement. Pride Month offers such a powerful medium for awareness about the movement to be spread, for millions of dollars for the movement to be raised and for the movement to progress and work towards increasing more LGBTQI+ rights — working towards making the world a safer place for the LGBTQI+ community.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know would like to contribute to the LGBTQI+ movement, here are some ways to do so! Feel free to start by participating in any events related to Pride Month or just the movement in general; whether that be joining the events listed above or attending pride parades, there are several ways for you to show your support — to show that everyone, regardless of differences, matter.
Another big help for the movement would be to donate whatever you can. Although there are several organizations out there to raise money for the LGBTQI+ community, here are a few of the more popular ones for this purpose:
- The Trevor Project: an organization that aims “to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people”
- Akt: a UK-Based organization that aims “to support young people into safe homes and employment, education or training, in a welcoming and open environment that celebrates lgbtq+ identities”
- Human Rights Campaign: an organization that aims “to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all”
If you or someone you know feels as though you need help — whether you are in danger, have self-destructive thoughts or anything else — I highly encourage you to contact one of the below helplines so that you can receive the help you undoubtedly deserve. The following list of LGBTQI+ Helplines is from PFLAG’s “Be Yourself” Manual (dated 2019).
- The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
- Ali Forney Day Center: (212) 206-0574
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): (800) 342-AIDS (2437)
- Spanish service: (800) 344-7432
- TDD service for the deaf: (800) 243-7889 [10:00am till 10:00pm EST, Monday through Friday]
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
- The LGBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743
- The National Runaway Switchboard: (800) RUNAWAY (786-2929)
Pride Month is a way to help members of the LGBTQI+ community feel safe and welcome — feel a sense of belonging in a world where differences should not matter. All members of the LGBTQI+ community, you will always have me — and all LGBTQI+ allies — in your corner because you are valid, understood and accepted. Regardless of who you are or whether you are out publicly, you deserve to feel safe, welcome and proud; most of all, you deserve the freedom to be yourself.