It’s almost the end of Pride Month. You will have seen a flurry of rainbows in your socials, maybe a little more queer content than usual, and depending on the circles you travel in, maybe some more discussion on matters pertaining to the spectrums of sexual identity and gender diversity.
Pride Month began in the US in 1999 and has gained traction in many countries around the world. Here in Australia, our celebration has moved mostly to late summer with the Mardi Gras Festival, but we also take time to honour the events of June 1969 and the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of Pride.
Inevitably, any celebration of difference creates some hoo-ha from the establishment: “Why do you need to flaunt your lifestyle? Why do you even need a Pride Month? Can’t you just be happy that you’re accepted in society? You won the same-sex marriage plebiscite – just relax!”
There is so much to unpack here, from the implicit privilege of such statements to the lack of understanding of the history of queer culture – and a real ignorance of what it means to have pride.
Almost all rainbow folk grow up with a deep sense of shame (Burgo, 2018). The shame of not being straight (Downs, 2006). The shame of not identifying with the binaries of society (Hutton & Sisko, 2020). The shame of not pleasing your parents. The shame of being othered by media, society, throw-away comments, and lingering and malignant phobia. Although things have really improved in the last 20 years, there is still a world of shame that all rainbow folk navigate.
The effects of shame are tragic. Rainbow folk are more likely to engage in addictive and high-risk behaviours and to suicide. Around the world, rainbow folk are more likely to be murdered, assaulted, and cast out from their homes. And it’s 2022! Imagine what it was like for the Aussie rainbow folk who were publicly outed on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1978!
The antidote for shame is pride. And when rainbow folk begin to learn their culture, identify their community, and realise their impact and strength, pride grows.
It takes a long time to muster, but when a person can finally state to themselves that they have pride, a lot of wounds begin to heal. It’s not a magic fix, it doesn’t stay constant, it ebbs and flows – but it is the beginning of repair.
I’m proud of the contributions my rainbow culture has made. I’m proud of the political, artistic, sport, and business icons who have fought to make the world more equal. I’m proud to stand on the shoulders of people who sacrificed their safety, even their lives, to change history. I’m proud that I have a rich history to identify with, and I’m proud that despite the best efforts of the mainstream, rainbow cultures continue to make headway and progress to ensure equality and dignity for all.
All that, plus a healthy sprinkle of glitter, makes me a better person.
Using pronouns to show solidarity makes me a better person.
My rainbow clients and the support I can offer them make me a better person.
Being aware of how I can accept and honour difference makes me a better person.
All the fierce and strong rainbow allies in my life make me a better person.
Pride makes me a better person.
Burgo, J (2018). Shame: Free yourself, find joy, and build true self-esteem. Watkins Media Ltd. London. UK.
Downs. (2006). The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. Da Capo Press.
Hutton, & Sisko, S. (2020). Multicultural Responsiveness in Counselling and Psychology: Working with Australian Populations. Springer International Publishing AG.