This year, Pride requires a more in depth look, a deeper understanding, and acknowledgement of the battles that LGBTQ+ individuals have fought in this country. In the midst of our march for justice in the Black Lives Matter movement, the voices and stories of black LBGTQ+ individuals need to be heard too, as their voices are the reason we celebrate Pride today.
Many people celebrate Pride with parades, rainbows, and parties, but do not know the history behind Pride or how it came to be. This part of history is often left out of our history classes and is not usually a source of conversation. This year as Pride falls in the midst of a fight for social justice, many of us are feeling the energy to do more or be part of the fight, but we are unsure where to start. I think one of the most important steps we can take for ourselves and those close to us, is education. I cannot stress this enough, everyone has to start somewhere. Start by educating yourself. If you do not know, learn for yourself that Pride was started by a series of riots led by Marsha P. Johnson, who was a trans woman of color and a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising. The Stonewall uprising, which sparked six days of protests and police brutality eventually led to LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. We are taught the names of prominent people who have made progress in our country towards civil rights such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., but I encourage you to continue your education to include LGBTQ+ individuals such Marsha P. Johnson and their struggles for equality.
Another step we can take in education is including our children in these conversations. Help your children understand that there is a deeper meaning behind Pride than parties, and help them to understand that the deeper meaning is still tied to the current social uprising. It can be confusing and difficult to talk to our children about what is happening in the world. However, change starts with us at home. If you want to use this time to facilitate change in a positive way begin these conversations about race, gender, inclusion, and equality with your children. We have to teach them what privilege means and how to examine their own privilege whether it be the color of their skin or gender. Starting these conversations early creates an environment of acceptance and inclusion. There are many books that may help facilitate these conversations and introduce these concepts to children such as: They She He Me: Free to be Me by By Maya Gonzalez and Matthew SG, Lovely by Jess Hong, and The Family book by Ted Parr.
If we start these conversations and teach our children about equality, inclusion, and acceptance, we are teaching them to understand and accept the voices and experiences of others who may be far different from them. We are also giving them their own voice and teaching them to stand up for themselves when they feel they are not being treated equal or included. Additionally, it is important to remember that Pride month is a great time to educate yourself and begin these conversations with your children, but it does not stop there. We need to continue to model inclusion and acceptance for them on a daily basis.
Written by Dr. Ashley Cherry, Psy.D.