Pride scrabble letters.


We all know that pride month is here and it’s a very exciting time! Although pride can be such a joyous and positive time, it can bring mixed emotions and challenges for people. Your mental health should always come first and it’s important you make that a priority during pride.

It’s typically full of fun gatherings as we celebrate our identities and remember those who have paved the way for us. It’s also a pivotal time for us to gather as a community and continue to fight for the rights and recognition we deserve, both for us and for those who will come after us.

Know Your Feelings Are Valid

Two POC hands clasped together with a small pride flag wrapped around one of them.

Know Your Feelings Are Valid

Photo by Anete Lusina

A range of feelings can crop up during pride month. Many people feel mixed emotions of happiness at how far we’ve come, as well as sadness and anger that we still need to fight against stigma and discrimination.

There are so many injustices and ongoing attacks against our community, both from the system we live in and from those around us. It’s impossible to overlook that, even during a time of celebration. Know that it’s ok to acknowledge your feelings about this: you don’t have to try to ignore them.

Some marginalized groups face discrimination even within our community, for example, people of color, indigenous people, disabled people, bisexual people, and transgender individuals. This can lead them to feel left out of pride month or feel anxious about being accepted into queer spaces.

A lot of queer people don’t feel accepted by their family or friends and might feel isolated, especially if they haven’t yet made connections within our community. This feeling of loneliness and frustration can be enhanced during pride when they feel they aren't able to take part in the celebrations like everyone else.

However you feel during pride month, remind yourself that your feelings are completely valid. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to acknowledge and process those emotions.

Don’t Feel Pressured

It’s often hard not to feel pressure during pride - pressure to be loud and proud, pressure to drink and party, and pressure to attend events. Remember that you are in control of your life and should do what’s best for you.

If you aren’t out yet or don’t feel fully comfortable being so publically open about your sexuality or gender identity, that’s completely fine! Don’t feel you have to attend large celebrations or be the center of attention. You can keep things more low-key and move at a pace that suits you, or celebrate pride from home (we’ll talk about that more later).

Whether you’re sober or you just don’t feel like drinking a lot, don’t feel that you have to bow to pressure from others and get drunk to celebrate pride. There are lots of ways to have fun and get involved in the celebrations without alcohol.

Ultimately, if the people around you are pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do, you could probably do with better friends anyway!

Take Breaks

Attending parades, protests, and parties during pride can be a lot of fun but it can also be exhausting! Especially if you’re attending a lot of events while trying to balance work, school, and other commitments. So, make sure to take breaks when you need to.

If you’re at an event and you become overwhelmed, just take a few moments to step aside and breathe. You can always head home early (there’s no shame in doing that). Your mental and physical health comes first.

Practice Self-Care

Two women share a meal. Both are holding a fork with food on it. They are both smiling. Food and drink is laid out on the table.

Two women eating.

Photo by SHVETS production

Self-care refers to any action you take to look after your physical or mental health. We like to think of self-care as setting yourself up for success. Self-care during pride might be making sure you’re getting enough sleep; staying hydrated (especially if you’re drinking more than normal or are out in the sun for long periods); eating well; doing some exercise when you get the chance, and making time to do things you find relaxing.

Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress, improve your sleep, and help yourself regulate emotions. Since we hear about mindfulness so often, it can seem cliché but it does have so many benefits. There are lots of great, quick guided mindfulness sessions online for free to help you get started.

Stay True to Yourself

The whole point of pride is to be proud of who you are, but it can be all too easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others or feeling like we need to look or act a certain way. While this can happen year-round, it can feel more intense around pride month.

Do your best to stay true to yourself. Remember there’s no one ‘right’ way to be queer and our individuality is what makes us so special. If you don’t identify with the label ‘queer’ that’s completely valid too - there’s no one size fits all way to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. You are valid, regardless of how you identify or express yourself. Be your true, authentic self!

Connect With Others 

Pride is a perfect time to connect with others! If you’ve been feeling alone or isolated, pride can help you get out of that slump and help to rebuild your confidence.

Connect with your friends and family (whether that’s your biological or chosen family). Be open to meeting new people and forming new connections. Connecting with others allows us to feel part of the community and is fantastic for our mental health.

Research shows that when LGBTQ+ people feel part of the community their sense of well-being is increased, they feel more confident and accepted, and pivotally, their mental health is significantly improved.

Ask for Help If You Need it

If you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health during pride, check in with your loved ones. Talk to your friends or family members (or whoever you trust and feel able to open up to). There’s no shame in asking for help.

If you need help from a professional, reach out to your doctor or therapist. There are a lot of great organizations that offer mental health support for the LGBTQ+ community that you may be able to access online or in your local area.

There are also several hotlines you can call if you need someone to talk to including:

  • The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
  • The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
  • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741

Although it can feel worrying to reach out, it’s so important that you do. You aren’t alone, even if it feels like it at the time. There are people who can help you to cope.

Celebrate Pride in a Way That Feels Right for You 

We all deserve to take part in pride and you can do that in a way that feels right for you. For some people, it may be attending pride protests, marches, parades, and parties. For others, it may be attending online pride celebrations or getting involved through social media. This can also be more accessible for those who live in an isolated area or who don’t feel able to attend pride celebrations in person.

If you prefer to keep it more low-key and stay at home, you could invite some friends around and have a chill night in. You could choose to mark the event by reading queer literature, watching LGBTQ+ movies or documentaries, or reading more in-depth about the history of pride.

You deserve to be a part of pride so find a way to celebrate that feels right for you! There’s no ‘right way’ to get involved. Wherever you are on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, be kind to yourself.

References

The words love is love are written in white against a painted pride flag.

Love is Love

Photo by 42 North

Ceatha, N., Mayock, P., Campbell, J., Noone, C., & Browne, K. (2019). The Power of Recognition: A Qualitative Study of Social Connectedness and Wellbeing through LGBT Sporting, Creative and Social Groups in Ireland. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(19), 3636.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.