How To Celebrate Pride In Your Own Way If You Aren't Comfortable Being Out Just Yet

Most people think of bright, loud, and joyous celebrations when they think of Pride. From rainbow, well, everything, to parades and parties, Pride is an incredible celebration of just how far the LGTBQ+ community has come in its fight for recognition and fair treatment. Visibility is more important than ever in light of recent legislation geared towards stripping LGBTQ+ rights (the ACLU is tracking 491 bills to be exact), and increased violence against the community. While Pride can be an incredible way to combat stigma, it can also be difficult for those who haven't come 'out' yet.

From an unsupportive environment, myths and stigmas about your relationships, to fear of discrimination, there are numerous reasons why people don't always feel comfortable being out in their everyday life. While being out is by no means a prerequisite for celebrating Pride or attending events, it can present unique challenges when and if someone wants to celebrate Pride. For many, something as public as attending a Pride event can feel too uncomfortable or unsafe to fully enjoy. The good news is there are many, many different ways to celebrate and honor Pride, so let's explore some fun ways to celebrate in your own (more private) way.

Throw a private Pride party

One-fifth to one-third of the LGBTQ+ community has reported altering certain aspects of their life (either at work or in their personal life) to avoid discrimination. So while you might not be entirely and/or openly out, you might still have trusted friends in your life who know your orientation. Throwing a private Pride bash with this trusted community can be a great way to celebrate the queer parts of yourself without the prying eyes of those you might not feel comfortable being out with.

From rainbow decor to visibility flags to themed food and drinks, the possibilities are endless when it comes to throwing a mini private Pride. In addition to throwing a fun party, being able to embrace your queer self in a safe environment (and on your own terms) can be extremely liberating. Blast the best queer icons (hello Lil Nas X, Boygenuis, and Tegan and Sara), slip into a rainbow shirt, and give yourself a night off from the judgment of the world.

Volunteer and/or donate

Whether it's by joining non-profit mailing lists, writing letters to your congresspeople, or helping your local LGBTQ+ community center with events or donations, giving back to the community can be a fulfilling way to honor Pride.

Advocacy groups like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign are always looking for donations to help with their policy initiatives but beyond monetary assistance, they also need volunteers to help with phone banks, events, and more. If you're looking for smaller or more group-specific organizations, the GLAAD LGBTQ Resource List is an easy way to find organizations that might be a good fit for the kind of volunteer work you're most interested in. In addition to helping advocate on behalf of the community, volunteering can also be a great way to meet other LGBTQ+ people and learn more about events and resources that exist near you. By helping to expand the rights of the greater community, you just might find your own personal community too.

Read queer books

Representation matters, and reading books about the queer experience from members of the community can be an empowering way to see yourself in print. From autobiographies to fiction, queer literature is an ever-growing genre with something for everyone. As an added bonus, research suggests that reading can have a positive impact on your mental health. 

Classics like James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and Alice Walker's The Color Purple provide heartbreaking and beautiful queer stories of the past while more contemporary books like Nevada by Imogen Binnie bring a more modern take on gender and identity. If you're not sure where to begin with queer literature, there are a lot of lists debating which novels are the best. The Advocate's 25 Best Classic LGBTQ+ Novels list can be a good place to start if you're looking to read earlier queer publications. Penguin Random House has even released its own LGBTQ+ Pride Book List which includes a blend of classics, contemporary works, and photo books for those looking to explore Pride while at the park or lounging in bed.

Have a queer movie marathon

Curl up with some popcorn and watch the best in LGBTQ+ cinema. From serious documentaries to lighthearted comedies, you can celebrate Pride all month long with the best in queer film. Just like with queer books, there is a LOT of debate on which queer films are considered the best. 

If you're looking for book and movie combos then The Price of Salt (or Carol) and Orlando might be exactly what you're looking for. With classic queer novels serving as the basis for both, these films bring some of the most famous fictional queer stories to life on screen. Another option could be to explore international classics like Y Tu Mamá También and La Vie d'Adèle (or Blue Is the Warmest Colour), which both allow you to explore the queer experience outside of a U.S. lens. If you're more interested in documentaries, then Paris is Burning is required viewing, or the more contemporary Disclosure could be up your alley. 

If you still need help deciding, lists like Harper's Bazaar's 45 of the Best LGBTQ Films of All Time or Stonewall's 10 documentaries to understand the LGBTQ+ rights movement can be great jumping-off points to help you explore the world of queer cinema.

Learn your LGBTQ+ History

Pride can be the perfect time to brush up on LGBTQ+ history. By learning more about where the queer community started, you can better educate yourself on how the community got to where it is today. This can also create a great foundation for looking at how much further we still have to go. From reading about the queer elders who were at the Stonewall Riots to listening to the Making Gay History podcast, there are hundreds of online resources and websites that can help connect you to LGBTQ+ history from the comfort and safety of your own home. If books aren't your thing, you can always explore videos, documentaries, or podcasts. There are also wonderful online exhibitions and learning resources (like this one from Facing History) that can help you approach your history lesson in different ways. 

The most important thing to remember about Pride is that it's whatever you want it to be. Celebrate walking in your truth in whatever way feels right to you. Even if you end up choosing something small to commemorate the moment, enjoy the opportunity to not only honor yourself but also all those that came before you. Happy Pride!