For those of us in LGBTQ media, the end of June often comes with a huge sigh of relief. Even though we expect it every year, the deluge of events, attention, and rainbow themed everything can be overwhelming by the 30th day. The deluge can also be a distraction to the reality of what is currently happening in the LGBTQ community locally and nationally. And let’s not forget the number of corporations who promote rainbow merchandise but don’t support the LGBTQ community financially or politically. This is not to say that the joy of Pride month is not important. But we should try to feel that joy all year long, not just in June.
So as we enter into a new, non-Pride month, what can we do to keep up the momentum and visibility that Pride brings to ourselves and our community?
First, we can pledge to keep supporting the organizations that we learned about during Pride. Whether it’s a national organization like The Trevor Project or a local one like the William Way Community Center, LGBTQ organizations need support all year long. And that doesn’t mean just fundraising. It means attending events, spreading awareness, and even learning more about the organizations themselves. Many LGBTQ organizations have a very wide scope of services because they work with a variety of people. Even if you participate in one aspect, there might be other aspects you weren’t aware of. And that knowledge can be helpful, either in directing others to the organization or utilizing resources yourself.
We can also pledge to keep up the pressure on politicians and corporations who actively campaign against the LGBTQ community. There are a seemingly endless number of Pennsylvania Republicans in Harrisburg who have no interest in helping the LGBTQ community. And yet, we put all the pressure on our Democratic politicians to try and change their colleagues’ minds. It’s very simple for constituents to send a letter, email, fax or phone call to express their disappointment that Pennsylvania remains the only state in the northeast to not have statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. It’s also simple to remind those politicians that whether they like it or not, LGBTQ people live in their districts.
The same goes for corporations. But beyond corporations like Chick Fil A that actively donate to anti-LGBTQ causes, we should also be pressuring corporations that indulge in Pride Month but speak out very little for us politically. It’s okay to ask more of companies that say they want to be our allies, because truthfully, it’s not enough for them to throw a rainbow on their social media feed and be done. It’s not enough for a company to take care of their LGBTQ employees. Even if a company is supportive of their employees in the workplace, those same employees, as well as LGBTQ customers, are still vulnerable to being discriminated against in most parts of the state.
So, as we finish this Pride month and look forward to the other 11 months of the year, don’t forget that there’s work to be done, and don’t forget that behind the rainbow is a community that is still fighting for basic rights and respect.