rainbow hands for disability pride

14th June 2022 • Aoife Casson

Every June, people around the world wear rainbow flags and celebrate who they are. Massive parades line city streets and people come together under one banner: Love is Love. 

But hang on, what exactly is Pride

Gay pride month takes place every June in memory of the Stonewall Riots that took place on 28th June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The riots began because the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and more) community, particularly trans folk and people of colour, and their safe spaces were being attacked and raided by the police. People took to the streets demanding the same rights as straight people, and by the following year, gay pride marches were happening across Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Since then, gay pride parades and marches have taken place all over the world to demand equal rights and to celebrate everything that makes us unique. 

Who can take part in Pride? 

Everyone! Pride parades welcome everyone, whether you’re a member of the LGBT+ community, or you’re straight and supporting the cause. If big parades aren’t your thing (I personally find them overwhelming) then that’s ok! There are so many ways you can celebrate Gay Pride Month: 

  • Learn about the history of the Stonewall Riots and the people who led them, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera
  • Sign government petitions that fight for LGBT+ rights, especially trans rights which are still under attack. 
  • Talk about Pride to your friends and family, if you feel comfortable doing so. 
  • Love and accept who you are! (This is the most important one) 

How about Disability Pride? 

The disabled LGBT+ community is alive and thriving! While there are still many parts of the LGBT+ community that lack accessibility, things are absolutely changing for the better, and Disability Pride is gaining greater awareness every year. Taking place in July (the month after Pride), Disability Pride Month started in honour of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) being signed in July 1990. The law prohibits disability discrimination, and Disability Pride celebrates that by aiming to end the stigma around disability and embrace our disabled identities. While not as widespread as Gay Pride Parades, several Disability Pride Parades take place around the UK in July, with the biggest being in Brighton. LGBT+ charity Stonewall has also shared some resources to support disabled LGBT+ people. 

Why is Pride so important? 

Looking back to 1969, I can see how far we’ve come, with gay marriage being legal in 24 nations around the world. But I also know how far we have to go. I’m Pansexual (Pan for short), which means gender doesn’t influence who I’m attracted to. I’ve been out for many years and I’m very proud of who I am. I also know how lucky I am to have a supportive network of friends and family who love me for who I am. Sadly, not everyone is in a position to come out to those around them, especially young people and disabled folks who are dependent on that support network for food and shelter. Despite how far we’ve come, there are still so many people who cannot safely be who they are, and that’s why Pride is still so important. 

No matter who you are, whether you’re out and proud, hiding for safety or still exploring your identity, you are valid. You deserve love and support, and there is a massive, global community ready to provide it. There is still a long way to go but I truly believe we can do it together. And if you’re reading this, feeling isolated, scared or alone, know that you are perfect just as you are. The world is lucky to have you in it, so keep going as best as you can, things will get better. 

If you want to talk to someone about these issues, there are so many great charities you can contact. These are safe, judgement-free spaces where you can talk openly and get the advice and support you need: 

  • AKT – support for LGBT+ people ages 16-25 experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile or abusive environment. Live web chat available Monday – Friday. 
  • FFLAG – support for parents and their LGBT+ families. Phone line is open 10am-8pm Wednesday to Thursday and 10am-6pm Friday and Saturday, as well as email support. 
  • Galop – support for LGBT+ people who are victims of abuse, hate crimes and more. Phone lines open every day. 
  • LGBT Foundation – phone line is open every day. 
  • Mermaids – support for trans, nonbinary and gender-diverse people under 25 and their families. Phone line is open 9am-9pm Monday to Friday. 
  • Mind Out – mental health support for LGBT+ people. Live web chat is open every day. 
  • Stonewall – freephone with lines open 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday. 
  • Switchboard – phone line is open 10am-10pm every day, a live web chat and an email address. 

So, what is Pride? Pride is a riot. It’s a celebration. But most importantly, Pride is loving who you are, just as you are.