Top Four Ways
To Make Pride Month Count

Tom Bourdon
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June Pride gets bigger and bolder every year.  This June we’re busting “out” all over to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.  Across the world, parades and festivals will take place filled with dancing, prancing, boozing, cruising, cheering, jeering and (at last count) just about a bazillion rainbows.  But when July rolls around and Pride Month is all said and done, will we be able to say that we also helped make things better in the world for our beautiful and diverse community?  I most certainly hope so.

My advice is to be proud of who you are, be a kind person, be a powerful example of pride and resilience.

I’ve been doing LGBTQ work for about 15 years now, focusing on support, education and advocacy in order to create safer and more inclusive environments.  With that said, whether you are a member of the community, family, friend or ally, here are four suggestions for what you can do to make this year’s Pride Month one that you can truly be proud of!  

REMEMBER all of the amazing people who have been fighting for decades to get us where we are today.

While the work has tremendous meaning, impact, and can sometimes even be fun and gratifying, it is also arduous and exhausting.  Look around you…there are people who have selflessly stuck their necks out, some for the majority of their lives and careers, so that it does “get better” for us.  And I’m not just talking about the Harvey Milks and Sylvia Riveras of the world (though they deserve endless praise!)…I’m talking about the people in your community, many of whom are unsung heroes, who have helped move mountains.  Starting this June, I ask you to find them.  Look up to them.  Learn from them.  Thank them.  Hug them.

HELP move things forward.

You don’t have to be “gay for pay” (pardon the pun) to be part of the change.  Starting this June, find your own way to help.  Support that young LGBTQ person who is struggling and could desperately use a friend or mentor.  Write editorial pieces that highlight LGBTQ issues for your local paper or trade journal.  Volunteer for a nonprofit, and maybe even consider joining the board.  Hold a house party fundraiser for a charity, or if that’s not your style, then simply make a donation to that organization.  Trust me, as someone who has run a nonprofit, I can assure you that every dollar counts. As a proud gay dad, Family Equality Council and Greater Boston PFLAG are two personal faves, and there are so many other amazing organizations.  Just. Help. OUT.  

ENCOURAGE ALLIES to step up…their visible and vocal support is critical.

You also don’t have to be “gay to play.”  There is no way a community will succeed without the help of allies.  As the Civil Rights movement taught us, we all need to stand up to racism.  As the Women’s Rights movement taught us, we all need to stand up to sexism.  And when it comes to the LGBTQ Rights movement (I bet you see it coming…), we all need to stand up to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism.  Encourage your non-LGBTQ friends and loved ones to stand up and speak up.  Heck, I don’t care, guilt them into it if you have to…and why shouldn’t you?  If they care about you, then this is a non-negotiable!  Plain and simple, there is strength in numbers, and we need the strength of our allies.

HAVE PATIENCE with those who still “don’t get it.”  

Look, I’m not talking about people who are completely close-minded, live in a bubble, have hearts made of stone and will never change.  I’m talking about people who are able to show kindness and compassion in some ways, but still struggle with LGBTQ acceptance.  I’ve worked with thousands of LGBTQ people throughout my career, many who have dealt with painstaking rejection.  I’m happy to report that in quite a few instances, I’ve been amazed to see situations where people have shifted from rejection to acceptance.  It can be a long and tedious experience, but it is possible.  Have patience.  My advice is to be proud of who you are, be a kind person, be a powerful example of pride and resilience.  Hopefully, with your light continuing to shine, those people who “don’t get it” will eventually come around (and maybe even offer an apology for taking so long to do so).  And if they don’t, please remember: you’re freakin’ awesome, and that’s their problem, not yours.

This month, hold your head up high and have a wonderful month full of Pride!  My family and I will be marching in the Washington, DC, Pride Parade on June 10 (on The Points Guy’s kick-ass 747-themed float that includes a runway and four massive jet engines)—if you are there and see us, be sure to wave!

Dr. Tom Bourdon is the senior vice president of LGBT partnerships for prowdr.com as well as an organizational leader who has served at the helm of multiple social justice, LGBTQ and education-focused organizations. Bourdon’s career has focused on LGBTQ as well as broader diversity and inclusion issues. He is now an independent consultant, trainer and coach helping individuals and companies grow and thrive in these two areas. He is married to his partner of nineteen years, and they are the proud fathers of two children.

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