Pride festivals are known for their colorful people, costumes, parades, balloons, foods and drinks. But like rainbows, Pride festivals sprang from a storm. June is a great time to remember that the very first Pride festival was created in 1970 to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.
Back then, New York had a masquerade law that was used to harass men who dressed like women and women who dressed like men. Bars could be shut down simply for serving alcohol to anyone suspected of being gay. The Stonewall Uprising was a series of protests over six days that began when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village club that flouted the laws and welcomed members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
In the past 50 years, the LGBT+ rights movement has achieved many successes, like the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, but the fight for equality is far from over.
This June, here are five ways to learn about the historic struggles, celebrate the wins, and help advocate for full inclusion. The last suggestion even raises funds for SAGE, an LGBT organization for elders, when eligible participants enter a sweepstakes for a rainbow home phone system.
1. Attend a Pride event. Some communities are hosting in-person events in 2021. Search the internet for Pride festivities near you. Or try a virtual activity. The Library of Congress is presenting a virtual LGBTQ Pride Night from 6-7 p.m. ET on Monday, June 28.
2. Learn about LGBT history and issues. Libraries are a great place to start. They probably already have a whole display of books and movies for you to check out. If not, ask your librarian to suggest some resources.
Search for movies and videos that document the movement’s struggles and highlights the work of activists. The documentary “Gay and Proud,” features footage from contributor Lilli Vincenz of the first Pride march. Want to learn about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California? You can watch both the documentary, “The Times of Harvey Milk,” and the biographical film “Milk,” featuring Sean Penn.
3. Advocate. Volunteer to serve on a diversity and inclusion committee at your school, workplace, professional or social organization. If they don’t already have a committee, offer to start one.
Don’t limit your advocacy work to June. Throughout the year, keep a pulse on LGBT+ issues that are being addressed by your legislators. Communicate with them about how you’d like them to vote and give them examples to help them understand the effects of proposed legislation.
4. Support an LGBT organization that matches your values. You can search for and research nonprofit organizations at GuideStar.com. For example, are you passionate about helping LGBT elders? Search for LGBT elders and SAGE will pop up. Headquartered in New York, SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders. With 30 affiliates across the U.S., SAGE offers supported services and consumer resources, like their National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative. Through this effort, SAGE advocates nationally against housing discrimination and trains eldercare providers to be LGBT culturally competent. SAGE is also building LGBT-friendly housing in New York City and helping builders across the U.S. replicate LGBT-friendly housing.
5. Help Ooma observe Pride month. Ooma, an internet phone service for home and office phone systems, is donating to SAGE and you can boost the amount by participating in the Ooma Pride Month Sweepstakes. Go to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and be one of the first 5,000 to share a comment with the name of your Pride hero or a rainbow emoji. And you’ll get the chance to win an Ooma Telo rainbow phone and Ooma Telo base station.
You still have time to enter, but hurry—the contest ends June 30. Find info about Ooma’s Pride Month Sweepstakes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here are a few Facebook comments to inspire your entry:
- Thank you for your support of people being themselves. We were the first of our family to get Ooma back in 2006. Since that time, those lines have been used many a time as more and more of us accept who we are and love. ~Melissa
- My pride hero is my father who taught me back in the 1960s to honor and respect all people, both those like me and those who are different, in the same way. ~Lee
- Happy Pride and my Hero is my mom. At 81 years old, she’s always been day (there) to support me and my friends, especially back on the days that Gay Discrimination was in full force. ~Ignacio
- My Pride Hero is my son, David, who has taken a strong stand for his rights and that of many others despite the cost to himself. ~Janice
(Update July 6, 2021: The Ooma Pride Month Sweepstakes is now over. The winner of the Ooma Telo rainbow phone and Ooma Telo base station is Steve Schmit. And, Ooma donated $3,000 to SAGE in recognition of all the participants who shared a comment with the name of their Pride hero or a rainbow emoji.)