11 Cheap Ways to Celebrate LGBT Pride

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CELEBRATE LOVE

Pride Month is supposed to be a time of love and celebration. It can be hard to remember that in the wake of the horrific shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. But one of the best ways to support each other during this difficult time is to find meaningful ways to celebrate the LGBT community -- and meaningful doesn't have to mean expensive. Pride isn't just drinking in a bar or partying after a parade. Whether you're a member of the community or consider yourself an ally, here are some suggestions to help you show the love and learn more about LGBT history and culture. Many events are listed in local LGBT newspapers such as the Washington Blade, or alternative weeklies such as Seattle's The Stranger, the Village Voice, and the Chicago Reader. Take a look at the publication that serves your area for the best local options.
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EDUCATE YOURSELF

BuzzFeed's LGBT section has put together great video introductions to the identities and issues within the LGBT community. Out, The Advocate, Autostraddle, Curve, and Passport are few more publications geared toward LGBT people that can offer insight. Even Wikipedia is a reasonable starting point. Also, be sure you know what LGBT stands for.
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READ A BOOK

Martin Duberman's "Stonewall" recounts the riot that started it all. Randy Shilts' "The Mayor of Castro Street" is the acclaimed a biography of Harvey Milk, the San Francisco politician who was assassinated in 1978. Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" is a moving graphic novel about the author's childhood that became a hit Broadway musical. For fiction, try James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room," Rita Mae Brown's "Rubyfruit Jungle," or anything by Sarah Waters. (And remember: Books are always free at libraries.)
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NETFLIX AND PRIDE

Good queer movies abound, and if there's not a wide selection on your streaming service of choice, online rental is usually less than $5. Want a movie about queer history? Try "Milk," based on Shilts' book on the life and times of Harvey Milk. Or how about "Carol," the Oscar-nominated story of a love affair between two women in the 1950s? Some fans say it's the best lesbian film ever. The documentary "The Celluloid Closet" chronicles the history of LGBT films and Hollywood's depiction of LGBT people. Or check out Time Out's list of the 50 best LGBT movies. Be warned: A gay movie with a happy ending is sadly rare.
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FIND A LOCAL LGBT CENTER OR MUSEUM

Local museums and arts centers often feature Pride events in June. If you're in the San Francisco Bay area, check out the National Queer Arts Festival. In Chicago, take a walk down Halsted Street in Boystown and look for the rainbow pylons highlighting the Legacy Walk, which bills itself as "the world's only outdoor LGBT museum walk and education program." It's also free. Many LGBT centers, which serve communities throughout the U.S., offer programs, services, resources, and events throughout the year.
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DON'T JUST STAND AND GAWK

If you want to go to a Pride parade, why not also participate? Marching generally is more fun than watching, as the crowd cheers the marchers on. Does your company have a float? Is your church marching with other welcoming churches? Or consider volunteering for parade route cleanup afterward, so Pride can stay proud.
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STAY HOME AND WATCH THE PARADE

Large Pride parades, such as those in New York and Chicago, are streamed lived over the internet, for those who prefer the comforts of a couch and a favorite cold beverage. What better way to beat the heat?
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JOIN A DYKE MARCH

Fed up with Pride's commercialism? Want a safer, less rowdy environment? Dyke marches can be found all over the country -- notably in Chicago and Seattle -- and usually happen a couple of days before Pride. Keep in mind that some dyke marches limit participation to women only, but everyone can cheer from the sidelines.
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HAVE A QUEER DANCE PARTY

Turn to David Bowie, Boy George, Lady Gaga, or whatever music gets the party started. Find a streaming music station and get down. Company is optional, but Pride Month is the time of year when people come together to celebrate who they are. The more, the merrier.
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FIND AN LGBT OPEN MIC

Come listen to people tell their stories -- it's good inspiration, especially during a time of loss. If you are LGBT yourself, consider sharing your story so others know they aren't alone. Most open-mic nights charge a nominal fee or ask for a charitable donation in lieu of an admission charge. Or take in a show at a local theater or comedy company, where ticket prices are easily affordable and the shows are often quite good.
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VOLUNTEER OR DONATE TO A LOCAL LGBT ORGANIZATION

Donations don't always mean money. When 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, simply donating some gently used clothes can help keep someone warm or lift their spirits. Time is valuable too: Many organizations need manpower as much as they need financial contributions. Giving blood is another way to contribute. Most gay men are barred from donating blood under Food and Drug Administration rules, so consider donating in their place.
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CONTACT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL

Pride Month is an ideal time to thank local legislators for supporting the gay community, or to reach out to officials and encourage them to promote LGBT rights through support or legislation. (In the wake of the Orlando shooting, many people have called for stronger gun control, as well.)