With more gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people living openly over the last decade, one might think that Pride is outdated and no longer necessary. Yet, a brief Google search reveals a different reality. Gay and lesbian young people are more likely to engage in self injury, bisexual young people face increased stigma within both the heterosexual and LGBTQ communities, and targeted violence towards transgender people remains high. Celebrating Pride this June is more relevant than ever. Pride month celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identities through community events: allowing us to be out and proud of who we are, thus decreasing our likelihood of being a statistic mentioned above. We need spaces where we as LGBTQ people can feel safe and see others like us that show us the depth and breadth of our community.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, LGBTQ people are three times more likely than others to experience major depression and anxiety (https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/LGBTQ). A fear of coming out, family rejection, limited education/employment opportunities because of discrimination, and even physical violence may lead LGBTQ individuals to remain quiet about their sexual orientation and gender identities. For these reasons and many more, our local community needs to be a part of the larger conversation and implement actions working towards increasingly just and accepting Beverly/Morgan Park/Mount Greenwood neighborhoods.
All over the country, Pride events during the month of June include small and large activities such as parades, book readings, family-friendly trips to the zoo, youth-specific dances, and more. By providing us with a welcoming and affirming environment, we as LGBTQ individuals can come to a better understanding of ourselves and integrate all of our identities to lead a healthy, happy, and productive life. Chicago has activities all month long, and into July, celebrating the huge diversity of our community: the LGBTQ Pride Parade, Black Pride activities, Trans Pride beach party, Latinx Pride activities, and so much more.
In Beverly, there have been a couple LGBTQ-affirming activities that have taken place recently that celebrate Pride. A local group, Beverly Area Connect, Protect, and Activate, held a community event, “Gender Identity: A conversation about transgender and gender non-conforming people.” In addition, the Beverly Art Center has showcased Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus for numerous shows. Finally, two local organizations provide space for LGBTQ youth. Beverly Therapists hosts GROW and Gendernauts (http://beverlytherapists.com/bt_group/gendernauts-a-group-for-trans-gender-exploring-youth/). This monthly meet up for LGBTQ and gender exploring high school-aged teens provides a space to talk, connect and build community. And, Mirjam Quinn and Associates is forming a group to support to LGBTQ middle school youth http://www.mirjamquinnandassociates.com/.
Want to be an Ally to LGBTQ people in Beverly, Morgan Park, and Mt. Greenwood? Check out these local and national organizations and join the efforts!
Project Fierce, www.projectfiercechicago.org
Transformative Justice Law Project, tjlp.org
Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, illinoissafeschools.org
National LGBTQ Task Force, thetaskforce.org
PFLAG (Parents, families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), http://www.pflagillinois.org/
Learn more about the author of this post: Bonn Wade, LCSW