Pride Year-Round: The Hopes, Fears, and Joys of 52 LGBTQIA+ Community Members in 2022
Pride happens one month out of the year. Here's what LGBTQIA+ people had to say about supporting the community the other 11 months.
“I think the LGBTQ+ community should welcome allies to celebrate with us at the parades and parties, but I hope they also learn that we need to advocate for rights year round. I hope allies show up for more than just the party.”
Pride month is at a close—so what now?
Pride is an important month for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s a time when folks celebrate queer identities and raise awareness for issues affecting the community.
Originally a riot against police brutality spearheaded by Black and Latine trans women, Stonewall was one of the landmark moments in which queer individuals pushed back on the injustices they faced daily. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and more (LGBTQIA+) people as a social group.
Unfortunately, as June comes to a close, many places will turn their rainbow-colored logos back to normal, posts and celebrations will die down, and the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ communities will no longer be front-and-center of the conversation.
Although people may appreciate the celebration, it rings hollow when allies and organizations don’t follow through on their kind words with year-round action and support. Take, for example, the companies that have rainbow pride logos but still only offer a binary gender choice on their job applications.
“I applaud businesses that showcase their support to the gay community by adjusting their logos to rainbow or having special promotions, but I want them to showcase how they support the community throughout the course of the year. Businesses should highlight their practices, donations and involvement in causes important to the community.”
dscout wants to acknowledge and uplift the fact that even though June is ending, the lives, hopes, concerns and dreams of the queer community continue—and are worth celebrating—all year round.
We reached out to 52 scouts who identify as LGBTQIA+ to ask them their opinions on their vision for the future of their communities. We took away six lessons—six ways our scouts hope that the queer community can continue to grow and thrive, beyond Pride month.
Our own researchers also supplemented their findings with actions and resources you can take to help turn these hopes into reality.
- Throughout this article, we refer to our scouts who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community as “queer.” We use this term as an umbrella term to encompass the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality-based identities that fall outside the cisheterosexual norm. Some scouts explicitly identified themselves as queer, while others used other labels. See more on our sample in the methods section at the bottom of this article.
- If you're unfamiliar with some LGBTQIA+ terminology, this simple glossary will help.
- The names of participants have been changed to protect their privacy.
1. Normalize queerness
“My mom tells me that she will love me no matter what and actively asks me about girls and guys that I’ve been seeing, and it doesn't matter which one it is. That’s the biggest support of all, treating me like I’m normal, because I am!”
We asked the folks in our study what success for the queer community would look like to them, and we tagged the answers. The top response was for queerness to be normalized and accepted.
In a 1-2 minute selfie video, tell us how you would define success when you think about the future for LGBTQIA+ Americans. What would that look like? What would that feel like?
Chart pulled directly from dscout’s tagging analysis feature.
A majority of scouts shared with us that more than anything, what they want is to feel like they can exist throughout society without this particular aspect of their identity defining or limiting them. Pride is an opportunity to be loud and proud—but for the rest of the year, many would like to simply exist, without their identities or expression demanding explanation or comment.
[Success for the LGBTQIA+ community would be that] it just kind of becomes a part of life. You know, nobody blinks or really thinks twice about. You know, seeing a gay couple in an advertisement as opposed to a man and a woman, it just it would just all be very normal.
"Not going out and wearing a pride hat and having everyone stare at me 30 times more than normal. Even just with my hair, you know, not always feeling like I have to wear a hat in the suburbs would feel like success for me. Just feeling like anyone else in every situation, not every feeling different or kind of singled out. I think that's how everyone and the community should feel in America."
"I think the ultimate success would be if a kid was going up to a person in a straight relationship, some parents, and then they said, ‘Oh, my parents are two moms or two dads,’ and they don't react at all. I don't even want a positive reaction. I don't even want them to say something like, ‘Oh, that's cool. That's interesting,’ because it implies that it's niche or it's odd. I just want a reaction where it's like saying, ‘Your family has blonde hair or brunette hair.’"
Scouts pointed to representation in the media and other public spheres as a source of optimism when it comes to normalizing their lives and identities. The more queer representation that exists, the more non-queer people can see the full nuanced spectrum of emotion in the LGBTQIA+ experience.
"I would define success when I think about the future of LGBTQ Americans. It would just be US occupied. More spaces are taken up, more space would have come to, you know, career views that are dominated predominantly [by] individuals mainly being doctors, lawyers, firefighters, just, quite frankly, anything. CEOs, business owners, athletes, singers, just, you know, it being more accepted and it being normalized."
“I think queer individuals should be incorporated into mainstream media without their queerness being the focus of who they are.”
But more than anything, it comes down to friends, neighbors, and community to make an accepting environment. Scouts talked about the optimism they have for the next generation, with more and more folks accepting, embracing, and even identifying as part of the queer community. As this trend continues, it should only become easier for folks to view queerness as normal.
“If we learn acceptance and understanding while we are younger, there's a better chance that we would be able to better navigate interacting with those that are different from us."
“I'd like for it to get to a point that it is not socially acceptable to be intolerant. And I think we definitely have seen progress towards that. I mean, 10 years ago I was in high school and I was bullied, chased down the hallway, shoved in lockers, people calling me the ‘f’ slur. And my cousin is in high school now and a good friend of hers is trans and also identifies as panromantic. And they haven't had to deal with any of that at school. On one hand, I'm a little bit jealous that they didn't have to, you know, that I had to deal with that. But on the other hand, it's fantastic. I'm elated that the younger generations don't have to deal with the same hardships that I did.”
What can you do to promote the normalization of queer experiences?
- Share your pronouns regularly
- Instill acceptance in your children
- Speak out when you hear racist, homophobic, or transphobic comments
- Share your queer art, writing, photographs, musings!
- Be your authentic self where you feel safe
2. Amplify voices
“The best thing that allies could do to ‘celebrate’ is donate directly to queer people who are struggling and amplify the voices of our most marginalized people."
The second major desire we found in our scouts was to have their voices heard—to be able to share their own experience and have social and financial support in doing so.
We asked our scouts what role they thought allies could play in Pride month. The top answer was, by far, to amplify queer voices. Promoting and buying from queer-owned businesses was another top suggestion. In both cases, the name of the game is lifting up queer creators and increasing visibility.
“If [allies] are able to donate to queer causes and support queer businesses and creators, that's wonderful. Whether they can donate or not, they should do something to boost queer voices and businesses during Pride month because that costs them nothing.”
"Raise awareness and promote LGBTQ businesses. I can do this by writing reviews and sharing my experience on social media that will give them exposure.”
This is an activity that everyone can do year round. Scouts expressed frustration at allies and companies alike that promoted queer voices during Pride Month, but ignored them the rest of the year—or worse, supported businesses with explicitly anti-LGBTQIA+ agendas. Consistency is key.
“Pride month is inclusive and welcomes allies to all activities. Many are celebrations and opportunities to emit great joy. Actions and behaviors to avoid should not just be ones that you're mindful of during Pride, but all year long. For example, stop supporting businesses with a history of anti-gay donations such as Chick-fil-A. Start that during Pride month and make it a habit to continue beyond.”
What can you do to amplify queer voices and businesses?
- Support queer businesses year-round
- Avoid homophobic and transphobic businesses
- Share content made by queer creators
- Promote your queer friends’ efforts and accomplishments
3. Educate, educate, educate
Many scouts pointed out that one of the major issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community is a lack of representation and education. Many problems specific to the LGBTQIA+ community are under-reported, and misinformation about people’s identities is very prevalent in the modern media landscape.
Education and celebration of queer identities is at its peak in Pride month. But scouts expressed their desire to have efforts at education continue year-round to promote queer safety and acceptance in the mainstream community.
Education can look a lot of different ways:
Scouts shared over and over the importance of allies taking initiative and learning from the LGBTQIA+ community about their experiences. Many cautioned against sharing before first listening, and how it can even harm rather than help the community. Without continued self-education, advocacy can quickly become speaking over marginalized voices instead of uplifting them.
"Non-queer allies should avoid speaking over the LGBTQIA+ community. Instead they should listen and learn."
“I believe they should avoid speaking over us and demanding something or other for us, like a day at the office or something, which may harm us. Being uninformed is the worst thing they could do.”
“Talking for or over queer voices. You might mean well, but you are taking away the voice of someone who is living through what you are just looking at.”
Family and local community education
The biggest impact any one of us can have is in local communities. Our scouts personally make a point of educating their family, friends, local and online communities about LGBTQIA+ history and current issues. They encouraged allies to do the same.
"I can empower locally and educate people around me and show them that we are all human. I have a large following in my social media accounts, and it’s a powerful tool to use so that I can also post about the LGBTQIA+ and spread awareness."
"I want to say I raised our three kids to be inclusive to everyone. I want to say that I helped someone struggling by sharing my story and letting them know there is hope and it will get better. I want to help people know that it’s okay to live authentically because being miserable isn’t the healthy choice."
“Continue to raise awareness through books, movies, and TV shows that normalize the community and share our history.”
Formal educational resources
Queer history—and in many cases, mention of queer identities at all—is off-limits in many parts of our education system. Scouts shared that they hope for a future where LGBTQIA+ resources can be easily found in schools.
“Teach LGBTQIA history in schools as part of US history and have LGBTQIA books available in libraries.”
"Having a curriculum in schools that's just very open and welcoming in all kinds of ways. So kids don't feel as alienated as they do, especially in high school. It's almost impossible, I feel like, to get rid of alienation in high school. But, you know, to make kids understand that there's nothing strange about what's going on with them."
- Learn queer terminology and more about the trans and non-binary experience
- Seek out queer media and books by queer authors
- Zami, New Spelling of My Name
- Stone Butch Blues
- Detransition, Baby
- Giovanni's Room
- Boy Erased
- The Stonewall Reader
- Sister Outsider
- We Have Always Been Here
- Romance in Marseille
- Beyond the Gender Binary
Movies and shorts
- Everything Everywhere All At Once
- Paris is Burning
- Boys Don't Cry
- All in My Family
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire
- Boy Erased
- RuPaul’s Drag Race
- The L Word
- Feel Good
- Learn your history
- Speak to older members of the queer community
4. Honor intersectional identities
"All aspects of my identity are connected and are impacted by each other. I am not just a woman but I am a Black woman I am not just a Black woman but I am a Black queer woman and all of those things matter in my experience of being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community."
A major issue that many of our scouts flagged in the modern LGBTQIA+ community is that it doesn’t always do a great job of acknowledging or honoring intersectional identities.
In particular, scouts pointed out that mainstream discourse about the LGBTQIA+ community tends to focus on white, middle-class, able-bodied queer folks. This can be a barrier for scouts outside that description to connect to the broader queer community.
"I don’t feel connected to a broader queer community in the US just because within the lesbian community white women are usually at the forefront and are the ones that get pushed into the face of the movement. While a lot of the time I do not find myself relating to the things they have."
"My disability strongly impacts my experience in the LGBT community, because we need more representation and I am ready to be in the front of that if necessary. However, it is isolating to be disabled in the LGBT community when so much is centered around being physically out protesting or celebrating and I just can't do that myself. My race and socioeconomic status also impact it, because I am a person of color. My family influenced how public I am about my involvement, which means I am not very loud about it. I am also not in a place to be out at LGBT events or funding my LGBT-related goals, which makes me miss out on a lot of community building."
Scouts also shared concerns about the political implications of leaving folks with other marginalized identities out of the spotlight, and what implications it could have for their well-being.
“My concerns are that the most marginalized people will be forgotten and left behind. People who created these movements and who are targeted the most by society have historically been left out of legislation and spotlight.”
"I am white and pass very well, at least I think. This makes my life way easier in certain aspects than others in my community and sometimes I feel very guilty of that. But it makes me want to make changes for them. It needs to change."
"My concerns are with the Black trans women and all the deaths involved around them lately. I guess it’s taking the world a slower time to accept them and it’s scary."
The future world that scouts want to see is one where everyone’s full identity is honored and acknowledged, and the community (and its allies) fight to protect marginalized groups within the communities.
What can you do to honor intersectional identities in the LGBTQIA+ community?
For allies and queer people
- Consistently check your own biases within your communities: families, clubs, cities, political parties, etc
- Seek out and listen to intersectional identities: include these voices as much as possible, and avoid speaking on others’ behalf
- Make decolonization a practice
5. Take political action
Many of the aspirations that scouts reported were abstract concepts—like acceptance, normalization, and increased awareness. But there are also very concrete hopes and concerns that our scouts had for our government, and concrete actions to match.
Our scouts recognized that while they were optimistic about the future of the queer community, there are also some very real dangers surrounding their political rights and their safety.
Many scouts called out a political backlash against women’s rights and queer rights that makes them fear that the rights they currently have will be rolled back. On top of that, there is still real progress to made to enshrine and enforce queer rights when it comes to housing, identification, employment, and safety.
"Finishing up the legislative work that needs to be done, including not being allowed to fire someone for being part of the community, not being able to deny them housing, for being part of the community, and not being able to deny them public accommodations for being part of the community. So that needs to be resolved. Those are some remaining things that I see legislatively that need to be done."
"I'd love to see the Equality Act get passed and have protections actually enshrined in legislation instead of simply just one court ruling. That can be reversed by, frankly, judges that are looking to do that sort of thing, as we see right now."
"I feel like success for the queer community would include safety for more of our members. Trans women of colour are especially at risk of death by suicide or by other people. So success would look like us having better control over that. Perhaps by having more trans women hold positions in the government to help with legislation. There would be no more trans bathroom bills. No ‘don't say gay’ bills or anything like that. If anything, there would be more laws to provide protections for queer people and perhaps more of a push to improve education."
Other scouts noted the inroads that still desperately need to me made for the medical rights of trans and non-binary Americans. It’s currently often prohibitive to access gender-affirming health care and resources, which threatens the mental and physical safety of many trans and non-binary individuals.
"I want trans kids to be able to access the healthcare they need without the threat of governments getting in the way of it or taking it away or making it illegal. I want gender affirming health care and clothing and resources to be readily available and to not be, I guess, priced out of budgets. Ultimately, I would like all people, but especially LGBT people, to not live in poverty based on their identity, usually as a result of being discriminated against in hiring and many other ways."
Scouts described all the actions they take to support their own community, including:
- Voting in local elections—supporting LGBTQIA+ candidates and allies
- Signing petitions
- Volunteering with LGBTQIA+ organizations
- Donating money to political campaigns
They also encouraged allies to follow suit.
"I can use my American right and vote on these issues that matter to me. I can go to protests and sign petitions and tell my friends and family how I feel and why they should feel the same way if they are truly my ally."
"I already vote in nearly every election, but continuing to do that and supporting LGBTQIA and allied candidates is a help. Also, I'll continue to contribute time and dollars to LGBTQIA organizations that are putting in the hard work, week after week."
What can I do to show up politically for the LGBTQIA+ community?
- Vote for queer-friendly representatives
- Volunteer, donate, or publicly show support for politicians who aim to support the queer community
- Support organizations that fight for LGBTQIA+ rights
- Vote for queer-friendly representatives
- Connect and organize with other members of the queer community
6. Live in truth and authenticity
Last, but not least, we can celebrate Pride all year by living our authentic selves. This final point may seem less immediately impactful than the others, but one of the most meaningful aspects our scouts described about being part of the queer community was the freedom to be authentic: to live proudly outside the norm.
"It means that I'm part of a group of people who choose to love themselves just as they are in a world where many despise the mere idea of us. That is brave. It's beautiful. It's revolutionary. It's so needed."
"It just makes me proud to be myself and be a part of a crew whose philosophy is to unabashedly, radically, be yourself, love yourself, and love whoever you love."
When it comes to belonging as your authentic self, most scouts agreed that there is power in numbers. Many cited their found family as a motivator to be out and proud. The love shared between found family gave inspiration to live truthfully and the consistent support they needed when authentic living created challenges or hardships.
"I grew up with a close-knit group of queer friends in our very anti-gay hometown, and it was nice that we could be there for each other when no one else could. Even though we were all different, we were brought together by our differences and we had unconditional love for each other. I think that goes for a lot of people in our community and I’m proud to be a part of that."
"Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community means being there for people when their own family rejects them. It means support and loving them through tough times and excellent times. It means being there when tough medical decisions are in play and to have a support group to face them. LGBTQIA+ people deserve love and kindness and I am one of those people that give it back to the community."
Others cited the online LGBTQIA+ community as a source of inspiration, and still others mentioned the power in seeing out queer celebrities. Whether it is family, friends, or far away stars, the consensus seems to be that authenticity breeds more authenticity.
"I'm a part of several Facebook groups for queer and trans people that make me feel connected to the community across the country. Being able to hear other people's stories and provide emotional support and encouragement when they're struggling makes me feel much less alone."
"I believe that because members of the community are on the outside looking in, that has given them a perspective on the world that is unique and not part of the larger straight-identified society. I see that uniqueness as a strength that bonds us together."
"Public figures like Laith Ashley, Arisce Wanzer, and Aydian Dowling make me feel optimistic because they're using their influence to educate and inspire."
So when it comes to ways we can celebrate Pride all year round, one of the biggest suggestions was to just be yourself and encourage others to do the same. Many scouts said this was the thing they wanted to contribute to the queer community and celebrate Pride.
“I would like to say that I trail-blazed for my family and showed that being part of the LGBTQ community isn’t wrong. Especially as a child of an immigrant family I want to show that being different isn’t bad and it isn’t a big deal at all."
What can you do to encourage authenticity?
- Create a safe, welcoming space so people can feel comfortable as themselves
- Be your authentic self (if it is safe to do so)
- Support members of your community in pursuing their goals and passions: show up for them, protect them, care for them!
Here at dscout, we believe in centering and celebrating our queer scouts during Pride month. So we celebrated by doing what we do best: running a mission!
This study was a three-part unmoderated qualitative survey run using the dscout Diary tool. Our mission was designed with the goal of highlighting queer scouts’ thoughts, joys, hopes, and concerns surrounding Pride.
Our project team, made up of individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, was honored to have a role in showcasing the incredible diversity and poignancy of thought of the people who use dscout.
Our sample comprised 52 scouts who identified themselves as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Specific identities ranged along a broad spectrum of both gender and sexuality.
Through this study, dscout’s team created a series of close-ended, open-ended, and video questions to fit the general framework of exploring the experiences and opinions of our queer scouts.
If you'd like more information about our sample, to see the study data directly, or to start your own qual research project with dscout, connect with our team.
The Pride Month Project Team was made up of members of our CXR team who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. To partner with the wider team and conduct your own research on dscout, speak with a representative today.
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