“It is absolutely imperative that every human being’s freedom and human rights are respected, all over the world.”— Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Pride Month has officially arrived. The number of LGBTQ+ Progress Flags waving in the wind and the number of rainbows that can be seen in company logos have significantly increased. For people such as myself, a Queer identified therapist; it means spending time with my LGBTQIA+ chosen family. It means attending events that focus on LGBTQIA+ history. It means celebrating my Queer identity.

For other LGBTQIA+ folks, Pride Month may mean something completely different. For some, instead of eliciting feelings of pride and joy, it may produce feelings of fear, anger, shame, loneliness, or grief. These feelings might originate from not living in a part of the United States or even a neighborhood or city where identifying as LGBTQIA+ is accepted or tolerated. For folks living in those parts of the U.S., openly identifying as an LGBTQIA+ individual might experience discrimination, physical harm, or emotional abuse. Some LGBTQIA+ individuals might feel those emotions because they experience shame derived from their families. Some folks may experience isolation because their families have kicked them out of their homes or even disowned them.

Anyone who has lived through any of those experiences or feared they might, may experience minority stress or prolonged psychological stress due to being a member of at least one stigmatized group. According to a 2021 survey done by The Trevor Project, 72% of LGBTQIA+ individuals have experienced clinical levels of anxiety within the last two weeks, while 62% have reported clinical levels of depression within the previous two weeks.

For these reasons, not every person in the LGBTQIA+ community may feel prideful during Pride Month. If you identify as someone who doesn’t feel prideful during Pride Month and wish to start experiencing some pride, there are ways that you may be able to do so.

  1. Know that there is no pressure to feel any specific emotion. Whether you feel happy during Pride Month, or sad or isolated, know that whatever you feel is valid.
  2. Take time to learn about past and present LGBTQIA+ activists and history. Learn about those who came before us. Read about the history of the LGBTQIA+ from books or watch documentaries. Some examples of books include The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle or When We Rise: My Life in the Movement. While examples of documentaries include Before Stonewall, Death, and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, The Times of Harvey Milk, or Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen.
  3. Discover your own way to celebrate Pride by yourself. Some examples of ways to celebrate Pride on your own might be to come out to yourself or express your sexual or gender identity authentically in a safe space
  4. Lean on or create your community. Connect with the LGBTQIA+ individuals or Straight Allies you do have in your life. If you do not have anyone around you, connect digitally with others through social media such as Facebook, Reddit, or Discord.
  5. Seek out professional help. If you have experienced clinical levels of anxiety or depression, seeking out a mental health professional can help you work towards managing those feelings. Working with a mental health professional could also help you learn how to live an authentic life while also managing in a community or family that does not accept your LGBTQIA+ identity.

If you identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, know that you are not alone. And if you are someone who doesn’t feel a sense of pride during Pride Month, know there are ways to navigate it, such as through therapy. An LGBTQIA+ informed therapist can help you achieve your goals for Pride Month and beyond. It all starts with reaching out and getting connected with a therapist.