This post was written by BGCA staff Kate Endries and Clarke Hill, with contributions from Jennifer Bateman and Heather Campbell
In the United States, June is well known as Pride Month and is dedicated to celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) identifying individuals. Parades, festivals, and celebrations across the nation are devoted to recognizing, affirming, and celebrating people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. But before there were parades there were protests, and before there was celebrating there was struggle. As we reflect on Pride, at this moment when our nation is in turmoil, it is important that we remember the history of the movement for LGBTQ Inclusion.
Perhaps the moment that is most often pointed to as being the biggest catalyst for progress in the gay rights movement is the Stonewall Uprising that occurred in New York in 1969. In the 1960’s in New York it was illegal for people to openly express their LGBTQ identities. After years of hiding and targeting from police, a group of customers at the Stonewall Inn, a local establishment known to welcome members of the LGBTQ community, decided to stand their ground during a police raid. Inarguably, the leader that night was Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman. Ms. Johnson and this group of diverse queer people continued to stand their ground for 5 days. Without the work of Ms. Johnson and countless other black queer activists, we might not have Pride to celebrate.
At Boys & Girls Club of America we are committed to ensuring equity and inclusion for all young people in our movement.
Our Commitment to Inclusion
We believe every kid has what it takes. The mission and core beliefs of Boys & Girls Clubs fuel our commitment to promoting safe, positive and inclusive environments for all. Boys & Girls Clubs of America supports all youth and teens – of every race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic status, and religion – in reaching their full potential.
So, you might be asking yourself, what does Pride Month look like during this important time? I found myself asking that very same question. Pride parades and celebrations across the nation have been canceled or moved to virtual spaces to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition to supporting those efforts, there are many ways youth and adults can celebrate Pride.
Ways You Can Celebrate Pride Month
- Create an Inclusion Statement for your Club or Youth Center, and display it where all youth, families, and staff can see. Consider adding to your website and membership forms as well. An Inclusion Statement signals the LGBTQ youth, families, and staff that the Club is a safe space for all people to be heard, seen and valued for who they are.
- Learn About LGBTQ History with youth and staff by hosting a LGBTQ history themed trivia competition. Some of world’s most prominent movers and shakers identified as LGBTQ. Did you know that the precedent for Brown v. The Board of Education was set by a case argued by a queer African-American lawyer? Their name was Dr. Rev. Pauli Murray.
- Stream the Smithsonian’s Project Pride Video, “a virtual concert and digital time capsule celebration of LGBTQ+ Heritage, Culture, and History featuring LGBTQ+ musicians, artists, and allies, as well as highlights from the Smithsonian collections.”
- Create Pride Themed Artwork with youth and staff to display in your Club or Youth Center. Pride themed projects make LGBTQ young people feel seen and accepted. Consider making Safe Space Posters to help signal to young people that the Club is an inclusive and affirming space for all people. Check out this awesome Safe Space Poster from GLSEN!
- Host a Virtual Pride Event: There are tons of virtual events taking place all over the world. Here are a few examples: SF Pride 2020, Cincy Black Pride 2020, Global Pride 2020, and New York Pride 2020.
- Get Involved in the #PrideEverywhere Campaign: The Trevor Project, a national crisis intervention, suicide helpline and safe space for LGBTQ teens and young adults, has launched the #PrideEverywhere Campaign to encourage everyone to show what Pride means to them and how they are celebrating Pride Month in their virtual world. Pride is even more important to celebrate during COVID because many LGBTQ youth may be living in homes that their identities are not affirmed and may not be safe for them. For these youth, Pride celebrations can be the one time of the year that they feel truly accepted and seen for who they are. With parades and celebrations being canceled to maintain social distancing standards, it is important to find virtual ways to recognize, affirm, and celebrate LGBTQ youth. According to the Trevor Project, “Pride isn’t just about parades, it’s about celebrating what makes our LGBTQ community thrive. It’s about finding our strength even in times of challenge, sharing our joy even in moments of pain, and creating space to express and celebrate who we are.” Check out the #PrideEverywhere Campaign video.
Boys & Girls Club staff can access BGCA’s LGBTQ Inclusion Initiative resources, including the Serving LGBTQ Toolkit, webinars, and training from our partners at BGCA.net/LGBTQ.