How to Prioritize Your Mental Health During Pride
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
Know Your Feelings Are Valid
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!
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.
Two women eating.
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.
Love is Love
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.