The weather’s getting warmer, Memorial Day has passed and something special is here! You guessed it—Pride Month (or Pride)! Pride is a time when people who identify as LGBTQ come together to affirm each other. It’s also an opportunity to bring more awareness to the accomplishments and struggles of those who are LGBTQ as well as honor those who have been victims of hate crimes.
I wanted to know more about why Pride matters to teens, so I asked some of my friends (all from New Jersey) to share their thoughts. After all, I’m an ally, but it’s important to highlight the voices of those who are LGBTQ, because Pride Month is about celebrating and honoring them.
If you’re struggling with coming out or self-acceptance, Pride can give you courage and hope. “Pride Month gives us a lot more confidence and helps us accept who we are,” my friend Abbey, 15, who identifies as bisexual, says. “It also helps to learn about the history of our community.”
Fight Internalized Homophobia
Some people struggle with internalized homophobia. This is when you feel negatively about yourself because you’ve absorbed the prejudice and negative feelings of others. “I deal with internalized homophobia, and Pride Month is always a great way for me to fight against it,” says Iris, 17, who identifies as a gay female. “Celebrating my sexuality and gender is almost a necessity. One thing I did to combat internalized homophobia was create an Instagram account about pride. Pride month allows me to be out and proud. I think it’s a necessity for everyone. Closeted people need to know that we accept them.”
Combat Bullying and Stigma
There is sadly lots of bullying and discrimination against people who are LGBTQ. “I have definitely been bullied because of my gender,” says my friend Julia, who is pansexual and non-binary. “I think I was bullied because people think I am ‘out of the norm’ and different from what’s ‘typical.’ Pride Month has shown me it’s O.K. to be who I want to be. I don’t have to listen to what people think about me because there are so many more people out there who care about and love me. Pride Month allows us to be proud of who we are and connect with each other.”
It’s so important that allies find out more about LGBTQ history and accomplishments. And it’s important that Pride goes on.
Although there won’t be the same type of in-person parades this year, there will be plenty of virtual experiences. Never forget that who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be. With that said, enjoy Pride Month—this year and every year!