LGBTQ+ students reflect on Pride Month, experiences

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Reporter

Running up and down the route of Austin’s Pride Parade surrounded by high school friends and high-fiving passersby, Lauren Breach said her first pride event filled her with support and community.

“I just know I was very happy and proud of who I was,” said Breach, a human development and family sciences junior. “Having that community that Pride brings together, it’s really great, especially when you’re that age, where there’s not so many opportunities to find other queer, young people.”

Pride Month, celebrated in June, is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. The month commonly consists of events for members of the community to honor their identities and celebrate past LGBTQ+ activists.

In June 1969 in New York City the Stonewall Riots began at a popular gay bar in response to recurring police violence. To honor the protests that followed, the first Pride march was held a year later, birthing the beginnings of an annual Pride Month.

“To me, pride means being proud of who you are, and maybe not necessarily comfortable in your skin, but working toward being comfortable in your identity,” Breach said. “During Pride Month, it’s just elevated, where you’re celebrating who you are with other people.”

Because Breach has noticed the commercialization of Pride Month by large companies, she has learned to support smaller queer-owned businesses as a way to celebrate pride.

Breach also encourages others to learn LGBTQ+ history, through classes such as Intro to LGBTQ studies and Gender and Sexuality, or through books and podcasts.

“I think it’s really about remembering the history of people who came before us, and also enjoying what we have now, but not forgetting that we still have work to be done,” Breach said.

She said her biggest takeaway from her experiences, though, is that it’s okay to not know which exact label you identify with.

For sociology junior Kathleen Segovia, Pride Month allows for members of the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves around other supportive people.

Because this is her first year being able to attend a pride parade, Segovia is looking forward to attending the Austin and San Antonio parades with her girlfriend.

“I’m excited to see the parade, and all the people, (and) all the little baby gays who are happy to be around other gays because I feel like a lot of them came from a background where their parents didn’t accept them,” Segovia said. “It’ll be nice to see people who are happy being around other people who are like them.”

Coming from a religious household, chemical engineering junior Nathan Hardham said Pride Month offers a community some may not have at home. He said although representation has increased in the media, not everyone has a strong support system.

“A lot of people don’t realize that it’s still illegal to be LGBTQ in so many countries, and people aren’t fully accepted,” Hardham said. “And (in the U.S.) people tend to define you by your sexuality. I’m gay, but I’m also a lot of other things, too.”

While peers or friends may be sharing their identities throughout the month of June, Hardham said people who are not ready yet should not feel pressured to join in. He also knows people may struggle with labeling themselves, which can be harmful.

“For the LGBTQ community, you’re usually the only one who’s like that in your family, so you don’t have anyone else who’s like you,” Hardham said. “Pride Month allows you to find a community, since a lot of people didn’t have that growing up.”