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June marks the beginning of Pride Month, a full 30 days dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ identity, equality and the ongoing fight for queer rights. Rainbows adorn storefronts and doorways across major cities and small towns, and while many longtime Pride parades may look different in the wake of the pandemic, there will be plenty of celebrations this June, with many more postponed and promising to reschedule come fall.
"Last year, we didn't get Pride,” says 51-year-old Susan Esco, who plans to celebrate this year in a big way. She'll enjoy festivities in her newly adopted home of Missoula, Montana, and with family in Spokane, Washington. And she loves attending the annual Pride boat cruise on Lake Coeur D'Alene in nearby Idaho. Later in June, she's traveling to Colorado, and she hopes to find more Pride activities farther west as well.
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Previously Esco has attended Pride celebrations only as a fervent ally. But after coming out last year and celebrating 2020 Pride with a personal photoshoot with her partner, she's excited to be with other out LGBTQ+ folks at this year's celebrations. “It's really important to bring the community back together,” Esco says. “Everything's been so distanced, and there are so many divisions right now. ... We all need to support each other."
Part of what Esco loves about attending Pride is “being around other people who have compassion for everyone, who may have walked your journey,” she says. As a newly out adult, she's already felt discomfort around peers and neighbors when they learn she's in a relationship with another woman. But she's not willing to hide her sexuality.
"I don't have time to lie. I want to find people who accept me as I am,” she says. “It's important for everybody, regardless of who you love, to have this sense of belonging somewhere.”
Ready to celebrate Pride around America? Here are some in-person and virtual events to participate in.
Honoring LGBTQ+ elders
The Not Another Second interactive art exhibit tells the story of 12 diverse LGBTQ+ seniors who began living their true, authentic selves later in their lives. The exhibit incorporates video and sound via augmented reality, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in the vibrant lives of these elders, who managed to stay resilient in the face of discrimination. The exhibit is currently located within The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn, New York, a luxury senior living community. Free public and socially distanced viewings take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Reservations can be secured online. An online component and a portrait book that tell other compelling stories of LGBTQ+ seniors are accessible to those who can't see the exhibit in person.