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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is observed in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots and to strive toward equal justice and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans.

Patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City organized an uprising in June, 1969 to protest police harassment and persecution of LGBT Americans. The Stonewall Uprising was a watershed moment in the United States’ Gay Liberation Movement.

Today’s celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, seminars, symposia, and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month activities draw millions of people worldwide. During this month, memorials are organized for community members who have died as a result of hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The commemoration month’s goal is to highlight the effect that LGBTQ people have had on history on a local, national, and worldwide scale. Below are brief descriptions of what just some of these individuals have contributed:

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Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

Ever since Laverne Cox became a series regular on Orange Is the New Black, she has become the first trans woman to cover TIME, the first trans woman to receive a Daytime Emmy as an executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. She was also the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast television, the first trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in an acting category, and the list goes on. Cox has been noted by her LGBT peers, and many others, for being a trailblazer for the transgender community, and her impact and prominence in the media has led to a growing conversation about transgender culture. In May 2016, Cox was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School in New York City for her progressive work in the fight for gender equality.

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Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major has dedicated 50 years of her life to organizing for trans women of color. She is a veteran of the Stonewall riots, a survivor of Attica Correctional Facility, and the founding Executive Director of Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project), a nonprofit that works to end human rights abuses against transgender, intersex, and gender-variant people, particularly trans women of color in California prisons and detention centers. She has earned a reputation as a pioneer and adopted mother to many in the queer community.

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Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg

Although he’s not a traditional activist, Pete Buttigieg’s influence will affect the LGBTQ community for generations to come. In addition to being the first openly gay politician to launch a viable presidential campaign, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor did so without compromising his status as a proud gay man. Just the very act of standing on a stage with his husband, Chasten Glezman, and being publicly affectionate with him was an unmistakable show of gay activism. At just 38 years old, Buttigieg has expanded the horizons of young gay men. And after he won the Iowa Democratic caucuses for the first time in U.S. history in February 2020, the idea of a gay or lesbian president didn’t feel like a dream that could never come true.

No matter how you celebrate LGBT Pride Month this year there are a few things that you can do to help those who identify as LGBTQ.

Be an Ally

It can be tough to know how to react when someone close to you discloses that they are LGBT+. Surprise, exhilaration, perplexity, discomfort, or none of the above may be your immediate reaction. Be truthful in your response, but also acknowledge the significance of your reaction and its potential influence.

Become an Advocate

Examine your own biases and recognize that it is okay to be uncomfortable at times. Use general terms when speaking with people. Rather than asking a boy if he has a girlfriend or a girl if she has a boyfriend, ask whether there is someone special in their life. Or ask young people what term they would prefer you use.

Never “out” someone.

It’s critical to allow people to come out on their own terms and in their own way. Without a friend’s permission, telling others that they are LGBTQ can destroy trust and potentially put them in danger. Depending on their personal situation, they may be at risk for homophobic bullying and violence if people find out they’re gay or trans. It is never okay to out someone without their permission.

Educate Yourself

Do you know why we celebrate LGBT Pride month in June? Spend some time learning about the history of Pride, a movement precipitated by the Stonewall Riots in 1969 in New York. It is also a good time to look into the issues and discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning Americans face on a daily basis. It’s not the responsibility of LGBTQ people to educate you, so step up to the plate and explore the books, blogs, and videos.