Pride means something different to everyone.
Because the LGBTQ+ community is made up of people from all walks of life and from all over the world, every queer person has a unique experience with Pride and the way it plays into their life. And not just in June, but all year long. Some people express their Pride loudly, while others like to express their Pride in small, everyday ways. But whether it's wearing some rainbow-colored merch for the first time in your small, conservative town, or attending a massive parade in a big city where everyone is proud to be out and about as their best selves, there are many valid ways to live authentically, and there's really no wrong way to do it.
Teaming up with a bright-eyed, young, passionate group of creative folks who are using social media in ways that show their followers that Pride can happen 24/7, 365, Instagram launched their Pride Here campaign in June with this exact message.
So how do some of Instagram's most vocal and proud creators embody the spirit of Pride in big and small ways all year round? And how do they embody Pride and define it on their own terms?
"I embody Pride every day by being myself and not apologizing for it," said Annie Wise (@annie_wisee), who, along with her girlfriend Riley Loudermilk (@riley.loudermilk), made history after being elected prom king and queen at their Ohio high school. "If people don’t like me just because I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, then they aren’t worth my time or energy. I embody Pride every day by educating my family and friends about the community and how to become more accepting."
And speaking of the ways she celebrates Pride throughout the year, Annie says she does things wearing rainbow bracelets, wearing a pair of rainbow Nike Air Max’s, and proudly rocking stickers on her car with positive phrases like "celebrate love."
"Pride to me means being proud of yourself and your identity, and showing support for the rest of the LGBTQ+ community," Wise says. "It also means celebrating and advocating for those who can’t do so."
"I live every day in Pride by expressing my queer self all throughout the year," said Two-Spirit artist, designer, and dancer Sean Snyder (@seanqsnyder). "Especially staying in tune with my two spirit community and amplifying their voices politically and in expression."
"Pride means community building," they added. "It’s the time of the year where queer people are most vocal and I find family everywhere. Pride is a time to rally our support across the spectrum, especially for those that are becoming a part of the community each and every year. It is also a time to reflect on the progress made and the progress to equality that is still to come."
They said, "I want our rural areas to be safer for our LGBTQ2S people so we don’t always have to leave the places we call home. I strive to embody Pride throughout the year by staying connected in our communities' political battles and amplifying their message."
"Small and fun everyday ways I live with Pride is my style!" said fashion and style guru Devon Kitt (@kaprisun_kid) about what they do to embody the spirit of Pride IRL. "I always dress outside of my gender norm and express myself through my clothing!"
"What Pride means to me is love, creativity, power, an act of rebellion," they said. "The bigger picture for Pride when June is over is for more POC LGBTQ+ community members' voices to be heard, for the end of trans violence, and to learn to love each other within the community. I embody the values of Pride throughout the rest of my life by being my authentic self and dancing to my own beat from my own drum!"
"Pride is a movement and a celebration," activist and photographer Charlie Scott (@dineaesthetics) said about what Pride means to them. "A movement demanding justice and equity in a world that refuses to honor and support us. It’s a celebration because there is much that the LGBTQ+ community has accomplished, and there is much that we must do. Yet, let us enjoy these moments and celebrate how far we have come, and prepare for what we will accomplish."
And some of the ways Scott shows off and encourages Pride in others are through their fashion and by speaking kind words to themselves and others.
"I love wearing artwork designed and created by Indigenous LGBTQ+ artists, which is a blend of contemporary indigeneity and queerness," they said. "Also, through words of affirmation to myself and others. I try to remind myself how powerful, how beautiful, and how brilliant I am and I know others need such reminders, and I do not mind sharing such inspiration with the world."
"Mostly through my job," model, activist, and writer Julian Gavino (@thedisabledhippie) said when asked about the small, fun, everyday ways they live and carry on the spirit of Pride. "As a model, I get to play dress-up, I get to play with makeup, and I get to explore multi-faceted vehicles of expression. Being creative and wearing whatever speaks to me is a huge way that I live with Pride."
"Pride is only one month out of the entire year. As a visibly queer and disabled person, I have no days off!" he said of Pride's meaning. "Pride does a good job of bringing enhanced visibility to a community that exists year-round. It is a time for us to come together, allies and community members alike, and discuss what an inclusive future looks like. There are many nuances to what Pride means. I think in the media we only see one version that looks very fun — and it should be, we should have fun. But we should also not take lightly the very big changes we need to make in order to keep LGBTQIA+ individuals safe and happy."
"Pride means celebrating our queer ancestors of the past and continuing to honor their legacies today," said writer and designer Phillipe Thao (@bokchoybaddie) about how he defines Pride. "Pride means reclaiming our identities, the spaces we occupy, and the words that once hurt us. Pride means reimagining and creating a safer world for all of us. Pride means making the intersectionality of our identities loud and visible."
One of the outlets Thao uses to express and live in his Pride is fashion, which, as a queer Hmong American, allows him to "bridge both of my identities together." He added, "music has always played an integral part of my queer experience. I love creating playlists that speak to all the queer emotions of celebration, yearning, and pride. My best memories of Pride have always involved dancing to pop music with friends, and I try to evoke that out-of-body experience through the playlists I curate."
"I embody the values of Pride throughout the rest of the year by helping to create safer spaces for queer Hmong youth and championing the work of queer, trans, and Hmong women in our community who have always been creating change," he says. "I don’t consider myself an activist — I believe that title should only be given to actual organizers. I call myself a storyteller and want to use my skills as a way to amplify others’ stories, triumphs, and causes. Instead of taking up more space, I want to add to the work that’s been done and invite others in."