Happy Pride! June is Pride Month.

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Pride Month is set in June in recognition of those who stood up to demonstrate against the police raid which took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, 1969. 

The Stonewall Uprising that followed have been considered to be the watershed moment in LGBTQ+ rights history.

(As an aside, while discussing the Stonewall Uprising on the Spin, I had mentioned that it’s the 30th anniversary… clearly, math is not my strong suit: This year 2019 is the 50th anniversary.)

The Necessity of Pride Month to be Acknowledged and Celebrated By Pro Sports

Because of my weekly participation on The Spin’s Wellness Wednesday and The Spin’s focus on sports discussions, I often try to think about sports and the larger impact it has in society.

And in my case, because personal overall wellness is a passion of mine, I think about ways to connect larger wellness discussions in relation to sports.

Pride Month is celebrated in many ways during the month of June… even at MLB games!

It’s no secret that I am a BIG baseball fan and I am glad that in recent years, the MAJORITY of the major league baseball teams have organized Pride Nights as part of the regular schedule.

(It appears the New York Yankees (there will be a pregame commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising on June 25th at Yankee Stadium, but it is not named or officially considered to be Pride Night), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros are not scheduled to hold a Pride Night in 2019….)

In the words of one of my favourite baseball players, Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals:

“To my LGBTQ friends and family – we love you, support you, and we’re grateful for you. I’m proud to celebrate and stand with you because everyone deserves to feel safe and free to be who they are and to love who they love. Love is love.”

Sean Doolittle, Washing Nationals

When it comes to the bigger pro sports leagues in North America, there are still unfortunately very few openly queer athletes.

MLB specifically has had former player, Billy Bean (not the A’s GM) Ambassador for Inclusion since 2004, and the league has been embracing Pride Nights for the past few years.

As the Ambassador for Inclusion, Bean’s role has been to provide training and leadership to the LGBT community, specifically in relation to baseball.

Pro sports have a very far reach with many populations, communities and individuals.

The more there is acceptance and inclusiveness in areas especially like pro sports, the hope is that there will be a larger and wider acceptance and inclusiveness on a bigger scale.

The Wider Scope Importance of Pride for LGTBQ+ Individuals in Relation to Personal Wellness

Pride Month is a time where LGBTQ+ folks can be recognized and celebrated for the diverse individuals and communities they are. 

But also as Sean Doolittle mentioned, recognition also provides more safe opportunities for expression and to have open discussions around how each one of us, queer identified or otherwise, understands difference, diversity and also inherent and ongoing challenges.

“Homophobia as a form of oppression is traumatizing and Pride is an essential way of counteracting the negative effects of hatred and oppression that have historically been present.”

Jason Winkler, Registered Psychotherapist in Toronto

From a mental health perspective, as a relational psychotherapist and as someone fortunate to have grown up with many queer identified people in my life, I have a relative understanding from my place of allied privilege how crucial it is to know that LGBTQ+ individuals have specific and diverse experiences and challenges, and that who they are can be greatly influenced by their families, the culture and the society in which they grew up. 

And to also acknowledge the greater importance for those in the community to have safe, inclusive and meaningful connections and spaces to be able to explore similarities and differences in order to have a good sense of self.

“None of those things can happen when one has to hide, to compartmentalize, to walk around feeling hated, rejected, shamed.”

Jason Winkler

Speaking of which…

Difficulties as a Result of Those Not Understanding the Importance of Pride (Or What is it with People Who Try to Equate It with ‘Straight Pride’?)

I’ll refer to author James Fell here who posted this on Facebook and Twitter, and a response from Twitter user, Alison Brandon:

Things to Keep in Mind as Queer Allies

Lastly, for those of us who identify as queer allies, it would be valuable for us all to keep in mind:

  • First and foremost, “Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.” – GLAAD
  • Don’t automatically assume that all friends, co-workers and family members are straight.
  • Challenge personal biases and lack of understanding, even though it can be extremely uncomfortable to do.  Resist the assumptions that being an ally means that there is a full understanding of another individual’s experiences.

For more on understanding how to be a better queer ally, check out this article from the Washing Post: Call yourself an LGBT ally? Here’s how to actually be one.

How will you be celebrating Pride?

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