person celebrating pride
Illustration by Joules Garcia

June is Pride Month in the US. It is a time when many members of the LGBTQIA+ community gather to celebrate their experiences, support one another, and advocate for equal rights and opportunities.

Over the past two decades, there has been progress in promoting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. People with a sexual orientation are still dealing with stigma and discrimination.

Many people experience social isolation. The barriers that these community members face are increased by the recent anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.

Pamela Lannutti, PhD, told Healthline that stigmatized and discriminated against status can lead to minority stress for the LGBTQ+ people. Lannutti is a professor at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

She said that minority stress is caused by a stigmatized group. Research shows that it negatively affects personal and well-being.

Finding safe spaces where people of the same gender are accepted and celebrated is important for the community.

There are challenges for the social and mental health of people with the same name and the opportunities for connection and support that celebrating Pride provides.

Experiencing discrimination and stigma can affect mental health of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Members of the LGBTQ+ communities are at increased risk for a number of mental health issues, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, misuse of substances, and suicide.

Fagundo is a certified rehabilitation counselor and the Senior Manager of Education Content at the American Counseling Association.

He said that many of the mental health challenges of the people who are gay are a result of discrimination and lack of acceptance.

A 2021 survey of LGBTQ youth conducted by the nonprofit organization The Trevor Project found that:

  • 94 percent of people said that politics negatively affected their mental health.
  • 72 percent of people reported symptoms of anxiety in the last two weeks.
  • The majority of people reported symptoms of depression in the past two weeks.
  • In the past year, 42 percent had considered suicide.

Stigma and discrimination can also negatively affect the well-being of older LGBTQAI+ community members. A 2016 study found that when same-sex couples were exposed to campaigns against same-sex marriage, it negatively affected their psychological well-being and relationship satisfaction.

intersecting forms of discrimination may increase the challenges faced by some members of the community Black, Indigenous, and People of Color members of the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination.

A 2020 review found that people who reported experiencing more than one form of discrimination were more likely to have symptoms of depression, compared to people who reported only one form of discrimination.

Many people with a sexual orientation face barriers to accessing support services.

According to data, more than half of the LGBTQ+ lack health insurance and have less access to care and preventive services.

According to a 2020 study, only 12.6 percent of mental health facilities and 17.6 percent of substance misuse facilities in the United States have LGBT-specific programs.

Pride events offer important opportunities for connection, support, and belonging to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This may bring mental health benefits. For example, a 2019 study found that LGBTQ people who reported more connectedness to the LGBTQ community were less likely to report suicidal behavior.

Pride events help connect members of the LGBTQ+ population to others and to support within the community. Fagundo said that they give members of the LGBTQ+ community an opportunity to participate in an event where they are completely accepted.

The events may help counter the effects of marginalization.

How can members of the community make the most of Pride? Mental health professionals from across the country shared their tips with Healthline.

Take part in a variety of events

Many people of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer community celebrate at Pride. It also has a space for community outreach.

“Lannutti said that pride can be used to meet and interact with other members of the community socially, to build and act upon political goals, to explore one’s own sexual and/or gender identity development, and just to have fun.”

She encouraged the community to attend the full spectrum of Pride events.

You can attend parties, but also volunteer for Pride-related community service, connect with political groups, and learn more about the various LGBTQ+ organizations in your area who are present at Pride.

Find your own way to mark the occasion

Some people like big parties and parades, while others prefer smaller gatherings. Both approaches can make for a great Pride celebration.

You might not be able to attend a big event if you want to. People who are not out to their families or other community members might feel unsafe publicly participating in Pride. Scheduling conflicts, challenges with travel, or other barriers may keep people from large community events.

There are many ways to celebrate your identity during Pride.

“Coming out to yourself and being authentic with others in a safe, intimate space is a way to celebrate your personal Pride,” said Jared Sulc, APC, a psychotherapist who practices at Berman Psychotherapy in Atlanta, Georgia.

This type of Pride celebration could be a way to take care of yourself. Think yoga practice or meditation dedicated to your authentic self, or a small gathering of friends you trust to watch your favorite film.

Connect online

Taking part in online Pride events is a way to connect with other community members.

Taylor Stearns, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in the San Francisco area in California, said that connecting with others through social media platforms can help promote the same feelings of safety, support, and community.

Many cities participating in Pride have added virtual events over the last 2 years that people can participate in from around the world.

You can find media focused on the topic of LGBTQIA+. Local libraries and stores stock this media in some areas.

“Listen to affirming podcasts. Read books by LGBTQIA+ authors. Watch shows or movies made by queer folks,” suggested Lana Lipe, LCSW, the owner of Honu Therapy in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Foster inclusive spaces

Some community members feel unsafe at Pride events.

In some areas, marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community have been excluded from or discriminated against by Pride organizers. Lannutti said that Pride may be a source of stress for these individuals.

Learning about the legacy of racism that affects people in and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community is an important step in fostering more inclusive spaces.

Actively listening to marginalized members of the LGBTQIA+ community, supporting anti-racism initiatives, and organizing against discrimination may help create more equitable and empowering Pride events.

Celebrate safely

If you plan to drink alcohol, it is important to practice moderation and not drive while drunk.

If you have a substance use disorder, avoiding alcohol and drugs during Pride can help you.

People with substance use disorders are encouraged to develop a plan for their recovery during Pride events.

He told Healthline that the plan could include taking a sober friend with you to the event. If you become overwhelmed, you can take a break so you can get back in touch with your recovery.

It is a great time to get support resources. Outreach efforts are conducted by many community organizations.

“Pride is an opportunity to get out information about what’s available in communities. Educate yourself, find your resources, and do not ever think that you’re by yourself,” said Kat Hammer, a licensed clinical social worker at Thriveworks in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Depending on where you are, there are local organizations that offer mental health services or social support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. National resources are also available.

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. They can refer you to a mental health specialist.

“Hammer said that the process of counseling can decrease isolation and provide a safe space to express concerns, but it is also important for people to find a therapist that makes them feel safe and that they feel a connection with. They should try people out and if they don’t like it, they should stop.”

The fight for equal rights, opportunities, and treatment in the United States continues for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

If you are an member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you might find that stigma, discrimination, or other social challenges are negatively affecting your mental health and well-being.

It is possible that celebrating Pride and connecting with other members of the LGBTQIA+ community will provide a sense of support and belonging. It is a great time to look for support resources for people with the same sexual orientation.

There are many ways to get involved, whether you attend Pride in person or from your own home.