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Pride Month 2023: Ways to Celebrate Community and Identity

Take time in June to highlight LGBTQ+ resilience

spinner image people sharing coffee at provincetown massachusetts pride celebration
Provincetown, Massachusetts, known for its LGBTQ+ events all year, will host its annual Pride celebration June 2-4.
Provincetown Tourism

For LGBTQ+ Americans and allies, Pride Month serves as an opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of identity, to find community and to showcase resilience in the face of hate.

LGBTQ+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, plus other sexual and gender minorities, is a term that includes anyone with a gender identity or sexual orientation other than cisgender or straight. Pride Month celebrates the history of the LGBTQ+ community and works to improve visibility for its members, as Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Hispanic Heritage Month do for their respective communities.

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Last year largely marked a return to in-person events for Pride Month for the first time since the start of the pandemic, including trademark Pride parades in major cities, LGBTQ+-owned business fairs and remembrance events for community members lost in the past year.

This year many Pride events have taken on a different tone, meant to show the strength of the community during a time of rising anti-LGBTQ+ hate and rhetoric across the country.

More than 490 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced by lawmakers in 46 states in the 2023 legislative session as of May, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union. Research from the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law looking at data from 2017 to 2019 shows “LGBT people are nine times more likely than non-LGBT people to be victims of violent hate crimes.”

But the events also come as more Americans than ever (7.1 percent) identify as LGBTQ+. By generation, 2.6 percent of boomers, 4.2 percent of Generation X and 10.5 percent of millennials self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual, according to a Gallup poll based on 2021 data.

As attacks on the LGBTQ+ community see an uptick while more people are coming out about their identities, finding a reason to celebrate and share joy with other LGBTQ+ Americans and allies is more important than ever.

You don’t have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to appreciate Pride events! Whether you have a loved one you want to support or you want to champion LGBTQ+ Americans overall, everyone is welcome to celebrate.

Pride parades

Pride parades and marches are a signature part of Pride Month, often marked by floats from local LGBTQ+ groups, events sponsored by area businesses and even musical performances. While the various festivities across the country vary in size and theme, they all showcase how cities and towns can come together and support their LGBTQ+ residents.

In Provincetown, Massachusetts, which is known for its LGBTQ+ events year-round, an annual Pride celebration lands June 2-4, including a Pride Rally with a “Spirit of Stonewall” theme at the Provincetown Town Hall on June 3 at 4 p.m. The Stonewall Uprising that began on June 28, 1969, in New York City is part of the reason Pride Month is celebrated annually in June.

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Pittsburgh’s annual festivities include a June 3 parade for its 50th year of Pride celebrations. Under the theme of “No Fear,” 2023 will mark the first time all three of the city’s major pro sports teams — baseball’s Pirates, hockey’s Penguins and football’s Steelers — are supporting the weekend’s events.

In the nation’s capital, you can watch the Capital Pride parade for free in the Logan & Dupont Circle neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., on June 10 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.

In San Francisco — where California has the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population in the country, according to July 2021 U.S. Census data — the city’s annual Pride celebration and downtown rally is June 24-25, with the march on June 25.

spinner image people marching holding an oversize rainbow flag at saint louis pridefest in missouri
St. Louis' PrideFest is a two-day free festival with a Grand Pride Parade on June 25.​​
Scott Lokitz

In St. Louis, AARP is a sponsor of PrideFest, a two-day free festival in downtown complete with a dance stage and Grand Pride Parade on June 25 at noon. Event organizers say the goal is to showcase LGBT-friendly businesses, nonprofit organizations and community groups, and to give legislators and candidates a chance to show their support of the LGBTQ+ community. There will be an accessible viewing area at 15th and Market streets.

Learning and listening opportunities

If huge crowds aren’t your style, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Pride Month through learning, listening and writing.

On June 16, the historic New York City Gay Men’s Chorus will perform a concert at 8 p.m., “Chasing Rainbows: The Continued Chase for Pride,” at the Center for Arts and Culture at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, New York. Tickets range from $48.40 to $78.45.

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Milwaukee Film, a nonprofit arts organization, and PBS Wisconsin are hosting a free screening of the new documentary Wisconsin Pride at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee at 7 p.m. June 9, profiling “the historical and contemporary perspectives of LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites.” Milwaukee Film also is hosting a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 11:55 p.m. June 10 (general admission: $12; 60-plus: $10).

If golf is more your speed, Ferndale Pride in Michigan is hosting a fundraiser golf scramble at Rackham Golf Course on June 26 with a 9 a.m. tee time. Tickets are $100.

Virtual events

Can’t find an event near you? Libraries and organizations are also hosting virtual history and community events throughout June.

Wake County Public Libraries based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, is hosting a free Zoom history lesson on June 1 at 7 p.m. ET with historian Heather Leah, who will discuss the struggles and events that built Raleigh’s LGBTQ+ identity in the 1970s through the 1990s.

The Bigelow Free Public Library based in Clinton, Massachusetts, is sponsoring a free program titled “Improper Bostonians” on LGBTQ+ history in Massachusetts from the precolonial era to the 1960s on June 7 at 7 p.m. ET, also via Zoom. 

For family caregivers of LGBTQ+ adults, AARP North Carolina is hosting a Zoom event June 15 at noon ET with the founders of the Behavioral Health Mind Body Academy. The event will provide education on the unique needs of LGBTQ+ loved ones and share tips on creating a supportive community to overcome health challenges.

For aspiring or active writers nationwide, AARP Oregon has partnered with The Generations Project to hold monthly social gatherings over Zoom to connect LGBTQ+ adults and allies using writing and discussion prompts — no writing experience necessary. The group’s June meeting will be June 20 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. PT.

What to take to Pride

Sunscreen: It’s important to protect your skin from the sun, especially if you’ll be outside for a long time.

Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, so carry a refillable water bottle.

Personal medical supplies: Carry inhaler, Band-Aids, earplugs.

Snacks: Pack some snacks, such as granola bars or fruit, to keep your energy up during the event.

Comfortable shoes: Pride events can involve a lot of walking or standing. Wear shoes you can walk in for hours.

Rainbow accessories: Show your pride by wearing some rainbow accessories such as a hat, bracelet or necklace.

Cash: Some vendors may only accept cash.

Phone charger: Bring a portable charger or extra charging cord so your phone doesn’t die.​

—John-Paul Hayworth, LGBTQ+ Audience Strategy Director, AARP

Video: AARP Pride Recap

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