5 Ways To Keep the Haters From Getting You Down This Pride Month

Here’s how to celebrate a healthy, bigot-free Pride

By now everyone should know that June is celebrated as LGBTQ+ “Pride Month.” That’s well-established in cultures across the globe whether anyone else likes it or not.

Anti-LGBTQ+ forces use the public celebration to their advantage — to raise more money in their fear-based fight to roll back equal rights and to turn public ire against almost anyone who doesn’t feel ashamed about LGBTQ+ people. Their gripe often comes down to the fact that if LGBTQ+ people have to be around they just can’t stand that those LGBTQ+ people look and act proud.

A self-identified straight guy who’s proud of the fact that his whole career is one where he kicks footballs around for money and notoriety recently told a captive conservative Roman Catholic commencement audience about his kind of Catholic “pride” in contrast. He righteously boasted that his is “not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but true God-centered pride.”

Such well-worn claims are foisted on religion and God, so as not to recognize that they’re coverups of the personal, institutional, and cultural problems that blaming their god hides. And one of their key strategies in these pronouncements down through the ages was to shame LGBTQ+ people, to make sure they didn’t feel good, much less proud, in any way about their sexual and gender orientations.

Putting aside, then, that these forces of bigotry that sanctify their prejudices with religious claims that have been debunked for generations won’t accept Pride Month as their cup of tea, what does an unbigoted, healthy Pride during this month look like?

Of course, the first and most obvious element is the ending of shame because someone is of a certain sexual orientation or gender identity.

Though the forces of bigotry will complain that most public displays of pride are flaunting it, that’s what they call it when anyone acts unlike the current dominant definitions of a culture based on its racism, sexism, heterosexism, straightism, classism, ageism, gender-rigidity and others.

The question they’re often asking in the U.S. is: Why can’t they act like a straight white middle-to-upper class male or a straight, white, submissive, middle-to-upper class housewife and gentlelady? In other words, why aren’t they still scared straight like us?

A second element of pride is not having to prove oneself to anyone.

One would not, then, celebrate Pride Month in order to show up the haters or to make any point directed at them.

It’s easy not to be able to let go of generations’ and personal experiences where dominant forces have kept oneself and the people with whom one identifies in a closet or otherwise down. It’s easy to act out of a bitterness, resentment, or a need of payback for all the different levels of atrocities that have accumulated not only in individual lives but in the long history of the persecution of LGBTQ+ people.

“Coming out” is only one stage in one’s growth. An “out” person is not necessarily a healthy one, though being in the closet can only reinforce one’s emotional stress.

“Coming out” and “being out” do not solve the many psychological issues that discrimination has internalized, much less the normal issues everyone of every orientation has when growing up in our kind of society with its flawed child-rearing methods. That requires further work through supportive groups, examining one’s issues, and even professional help.

A third element of pride is reconciling ourselves to our religious backgrounds.

There are many ways to do this — walking away from one’s religious path, finding a religious community that is no longer toxic but affirming, choosing one’s personal spiritual or non-spiritual lifestyle.

But if we’re still fighting our religious backgrounds, still obsessed with proving them wrong, fixing our old institutions, converting our families, does that mean we haven’t really put them behind us? How much of our life’s energy are we putting into this? One can even get addicted to being fervently anti-religious so that we’re triggered into anger and defensiveness every time religion is mentioned.

A fourth element of pride is being gentle on ourselves.

That means treating ourselves the way we would treat any other person we love and of whom we were proud.

It means forgiving our mistakes, cherishing friends who genuinely get to know us and build us up, not thinking it’s a shame if we’re not partnered, exploring how we can contribute to this world in a way that is healthy for us, and embracing changes as we and others around us inevitably age.

A fifth element of pride is to recognize that one who is proud helps change the world.

To the extent that we feel good about ourselves, we’ll want to share how we feel.

It’s the opposite of a bragging about how good we are that arises out of a fear that others can’t see that. Instead, it arises out of how comfortable we feel about ourselves and how hard it is to hoard such positivity.

It’s also a recognition that we’re a significant part of a long on-going history about LGBTQ+ equality that’s still being written. It is the courage to see that we do have a valuable role to play in where that history goes no matter how little our piece of the long struggles seems.

It’s a thankfulness for all that has been accomplished by our elders but also a not shying back from our importance in the ongoing movement to leave the world a better place. Whether that is attending a meeting to support others, leading a cause, or encouraging others, it’s a recognition that our life is worth more than the trivial.

Finally, pride means celebrating.

If we’re proud of ourselves, we’re worth celebrating.

The late great Texan, activist, writer, and journalist Molly Ivins used to remind other activists:

So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.