What Does Pride Month Mean to You?

Here at the Institute and Flourish, Pride Month has a variety of meanings for us, as well as for the youth and families with whom we work. Today, I want to share five fundamental and shared values that we bring to Pride Month and to our everyday work: Curiosity, Reflection, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Action.

Curiosity and Reflection. This value reflects our commitment to learning throughout life, including paying attention to the research and listening to the stories our clients, friends and communities tell. It means listening to our own hearts, challenging ourselves, and reflecting on our own journeys as we seek to embrace people of all sexual orientations and all gender identities.

The 2020 survey by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School found that 9.5% of youth ages 13 – 17 in the United States belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. In my conversations with youth and parents, curiosity helps me be aware of what our young people are experiencing today – out in the world and within themselves. Curiosity helps me explore the diverse experiences of families of LGBTQIA+ youth today. And reflection helps me consider the ways the world and the journey may be similar or different to the times during which I came out many years ago – during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.

For those of you interested in bringing your own curiosity and reflection to Pride Month, consider the following:

  • Dive into the history of the LGBTQIA+ community and the significance of Pride Month. Bookstores and streaming sites are shining the light on many worthwhile books and documentaries available now.
  • Explore age appropriate movies, literature and music with our children and teens.
  • Listen to young people and families who make up this incredible community.
  • Reflect, write or draw about the ways you and things have changed and not changed over the course of your life in terms of acceptance, diversity and inclusion.
  • Check out our resource links below to learn more about community and national resources.

Empowerment. Learning stuff, talking about stuff, and celebrating all contribute to empowerment! How can we empower children and youth to be inclusive, accepting, and respectful – appreciating gender diversity? For example, it’s never too soon to create awareness and appreciation of gender diverse bodies. You might consider sharing Dr. Caroline Carter’s beautifully illustrated picture book, Every Body is a Rainbow: A Kid’s Guide to Bodies Across the Gender Spectrum. Dr. Carter is a colleague and dear friend, one of the originators of Gender Camps, and a gender specialist working with children and families. Her book for children is a celebration!

Parents who are raising LGBTQIA+ children and teens often have many questions about how to support and empower their kids. Many parents recognize that their love and role is vital to their LGBTQIA+ kids well-being. And it is! Parents themselves will likely be empowered by John Sovac’s new book, Out! A Parent’s Guide to Supporting your LGBTQIA+ Kid through Coming Out and Beyond. John Sovac, LMFT, is a psychotherapist here in Pasadena and a long-time respected colleague. In this practical and authentic book, John guides parents through a wide range of themes, including: understanding the coming out process, effective communication strategies including talking about sex, creating communities of support, and the family coming-out process.

Advocacy and Action. There are many ways to be an advocate and to take action. And in these days of anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination and legislation, many of us are reflecting on the work we can do to make a difference, to create safe and inclusive spaces, and to foster a future of inclusion and equality. Whether we identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community or consider ourselves allies, it’s great to reflect on what may work for each of us in the given moment. Here are some opportunities:

  • Attend or participate in local family friendly Pride events.
  • Signal others that you are open to inclusion and dialogue. This can be done in many ways, particularly with curiosity and reflection – sharing about things you are learning, having a Pride flag in your space, and more.
  • Engage in genuine dialogue to help eradicate anti-LGBTQIA+ bias and discrimination.
  • Engage in conversations to promote equality and acceptance and to correct the enormous amount of misinformation out there.
  • Participate in professional or workplace trainings on LGBTQIA+ inclusion and diversity. If nothing like this is available in your workplace, you can consider requesting one – or joining with some colleagues to request one.
  • Join organizations that seek to make a difference in the community.
  • Get involved in actions that speak to you in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Curiosity and Reflection. Empowerment. Advocacy and Action. May these values help guide us during Pride Month and all months.

Dr. Melissa Johnson

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