‘Pride month is a great reminder that a sense of belonging, ability to engage and connect with others as well as social support are so important to our well-being.’
Let’s face it, the last few years have been tough on us all. That is why this Pride month, also referred to as June, is more important than ever before… let’s start at the beginning.
The Stonewall riots are a well known embarkation for queer liberation and community. The Stonewall Inn is a National Historic Landmark located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. Here, in response to a police raid that began on June 28th, 1969, queer protestors took to the streets to say enough is enough.
At the same time, queer liberation was gaining momentum in Canada. In August of 1971, the first protests for gay rights took place with small demonstrations in Ottawa and Vancouver. These demonstrations demanded an end to all forms of state discrimination against gays and lesbians. Not one year later, Toronto held its first Pride celebration.
Language matters and the terms we ascribe to things have large contextual meanings. Here I will use the acronym 2S/LGBTQIA+ and the term queer interchangeably. These refer to people who identify as Two-Spirited, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/ Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and any other term someone may use to identify as non-heterosexual. It is important to note that Two-Spirited is the foundation of this acronym to highlight Indigenous peoples, who were the original habitants of Turtle Island.
You’ll notice that throughout this read I will use the term social support often. For this reason, social support is a term used to refer to any process where social relationships promote health and well being. Additionally, it involves exchanging information, emotional, or instrumental resources by non-professionals.
Queer communities have survived and even thrived despite a greater burden of health disparities. These often arise from homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination. A large part of our ability to cope comes from our community bonds, social support, and connection to one another. There are many factors that increase psychological well being. Some of these factors include outness, family support, socio-political involvement, and 2S/LGBTQIA+ community connectedness.
Pride is an opportunity for community connectedness and social involvement in identity-specific spaces. It helps to foster greater understanding, belonging and inclusion. Pride month is a great reminder that a sense of belonging, ability to engage and connect with others as well as social support are so important to our well-being. When our capabilities and super powers include social well-being, connection is possible. Meaningful participation that shapes our environment results in individual and collective transformation.
Feeling connected to one’s community is an extension of our human need to belong. Connection results in positive individual and social outcomes. It is central to establishing collective identity. Further, group affiliation and belonging based on a shared identity or experience can lead to enhanced social support. Moreover, it leads to affirming one’s identity in accessible and non-stigmatized spaces.
Research demonstrates that social support that comes from feeling connected to other 2S/LGBTQIA+ people has ever greater effects on well-being and belonging. As we know, all forms of social support relate to positive well- being.
Through building stronger community connections, fostering inclusion and leaning into our informal social supports, it is undeniable that this Pride month will be one of the best ones yet. Pride is an opportunity for community connectedness and social involvement in identity-specific spaces. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to cultivate strength and resilience for all peoples.
Call up your friends, barbecue, picnic, go for coffee, get connected, volunteer with a queer organization, march, be loud, be proud… Happy Pride!
Tori Stranges (she/her) is a PhD Student in the faculty of Health and Social Development at the University of British Columbia. Tori’s research interests lay at the intersection of brain injury resulting from intimate partner violence in the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community. She has a particular interest in how survivors access health and community care. Tori is an Institute of Community Engaged Research Scholar. She sits on the Scientific Advisory Panel for The GenWell Project, is an affiliated researcher with the Institute for Social Connection, a member of the PINKConcussion Task Force, a researcher with The Roundtable- BC’s LGBTQ2S Mental Health