Honoring Pride Month

By Aaron Bates

The modern Pride movement began as a celebration of the Stonewall uprising. Gay bars had been targets of discriminatory policing and raids for years in New York, and after a particularly brutal raid of the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, a gay club in Greenwich Village, the gay and trans community had enough and began to fight back. While the initial riot was quelled by the fire department and riot squad, the movement couldn’t be stopped, and protests in the area continued for days.

This spirit would be carried on by new LGBTQ+ groups, including modern organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, with the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots marking what many consider the first Pride Parade, where thousands marched through New York chanting their slogan, “Say It Loud, Gay is Proud.”

These parades have expanded far from the Stonewall Inn to all over the world, where queer and queer-friendly people come together to celebrate what it means to live authentically. To celebrate Pride Month this year, Vitality’s DEI committee, Project IDEAL, will be hosting a Drag Bingo event, with prizes from local queer-owned companies, and brining in local treats from a trans-owned bakery! Our team continues to advocate for inclusive hiring and fostering a welcoming work environment by promoting inclusive education online and in our office.

Many LGBTQIA+ people report that the community and acceptance found in local community organizations helps improve their overall mental health. According to the Trevor Project, nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ young people said their mental health was either always poor or poor most of the time or due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation. These same studies found that more than half (54%) of transgender and nonbinary young people found their school to be gender-affirming, and those who did reported lower rates of suicide attempts.

There are many ways we can help validate those around us. For example, The Trevor Project surveyed LGBTQ+ young people and the top five actions they indicated that people in their life can do to best show their support and acceptance are:

1) Trusting that I know who I am
2) Standing up for me
3) Not supporting politicians that advocate for anti-LBGTQ+ legislation
4) Looking up things about LBGTQ+ identities on their own to better understand
5) Respecting my pronouns

When people are allowed to explore their own identities, and those identities are respected, it can help mitigate pressures LGBTQ+ people feel on a day-to-day basis and encourage positive mental health. Leading with understanding and respect how the people around us view themselves can help create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. 

How will you be celebrating Pride this year? You can find a list of Pride Events all around the world put together by the International LGBTQIA+ Travel Association on their Global Calendar, but here’s a list of some options local to the Chicago Area to check out!

OUTspoken: Tuesday, June 4

Kick off Pride Month and join StartOut as we partner with OUTspoken for their June storytelling event celebrating uniquely personal stories from a cross-section of the LGBTQ+ community. StartOut will be providing queer storytellers focused on the LGBTQ+ business and entrepreneurial experience.

Get Lit: Gaymer Night: Saturday, June 11

Press start and level up your happy hour at Gaymer Night, where gaming, trivia, and creativity collide in an electrifying celebration of queer geek culture.

Chicago Pride Fest: Saturday-Sunday, June 22-23

The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest is a celebration of LGBTQ+ life, culture and community in  Chicago’s landmark LGBTQ+ Northalsted neighborhood. Pride Fest features live music on 3 stages, a Youth Pride Space for teens, best of Chicago drag performance, the Proud Pet Parade with prizes, and dance exhibitions.

Back Lot Bash: Friday-Sunday, June 28-30

Back Lot Bash is an iconic staple of Chicago Pride Week at a unique outdoor venue in the historic Andersonville neighborhood. The event features local and emerging musicians and established performers of different genres, and this year is their 20th anniversary.

Chicago Pride Parade: Sunday, June 30

The 53rd annual Chicago Pride Parade is one of the oldest and largest parades in the country. The parade starts at 11 a.m. from Sheridan and Broadway. The four-mile parade route travels through the Northalsted, Uptown, Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.

Aaron is an Administrative Customer Care Specialist with Vitality. Aaron has a BFA in Acting where they used their art and the passion of those around them to explore their own Gender Identity. Aaron loves being able to meet with local community members and expand his own understanding and acceptance of the world around him.

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