Inspiration: Why Pride Matters — Sustainability, Safety and Radical Acceptance for All


By Michelle Opolencia, Alliance Intern from UC San Diego ‘25
with Contributions from the Alliance Team

Pride Month – also known as the month of June – is a time when we celebrate and recognize the LGBTQ+ community. The Stonewall Inn, a gay club, was raided in New York City on June 28, 1969, starting the Stonewall Riots. The gay rights protesters flooded the streets for 6 days in response to police harassment and social discrimination. After decades of hard work, acceptance and rights have been gained for this community, but we are not close to reaching the goal – equality, inclusion and 100% love.

At the Alliance, we continue to discuss the significance Pride Month has on many of us across different levels. Through this article, we share various perspectives as it is important for them to be heard. Pride is about being fully seen, which includes the core ideas: inclusivity, kindness, respect and self-expression. In accordance with the Alliance’s mission of sustainability, we believe that the extraordinary, joyous and safe space Pride celebrations offer do just that as we are striving to co-create where we live.

Finding Affirmation and Connection Through Community

“As a queer individual, my journey has been a quest for a community where I truly belong. While I’ve been fortunate to have supportive allies among my friends, finding a genuine queer community has often felt elusive. This Pride Month has been transformative for me. It has been an incredible exploration and celebration of life, love, and the bonds of new queer friendships.

“For the first time, I’ve felt the profound connection of being surrounded by others who understand and share my experiences. The warmth, acceptance, and mutual respect in these new friendships have been deeply affirming. This month has not just been about celebrating our identities but also about discovering a space where I can be my authentic self without hesitation. The joy and solidarity I’ve experienced are a testament to the power of community and the importance of creating inclusive spaces where everyone can thrive.”

– Cate Rosa, Intern

Credit: USA Today

Gaining Perspective and Growing My Passion

“When discussing the publication of this article, it gave me the realization of just how little I’ve interacted with Pride month. Hearing about all the fun activities our team had visited around the country to celebrate Pride, and all the values these events represented to them, gave me a much deeper appreciation for the month and what it stands for.

“I hope to go out and explore the Pride events happening in my community, and continue learning more about the history of the LGBTQ community and the fight for a more inclusive and sustainable world. Hearing about the alliance’s multifaceted approach to sustainability that advocates for the rights and acceptance of everyone is inspiring, and has given me a deeper passion for helping create a more sustainable world.”

– Preston Merrill, Intern 

“Pride Month is such a huge movement for the LGBTQ+ community and is a step closer for a better future for them. Interacting with various students on campus and seeing various posts as I scroll through social media, I have gained a better understanding of what Pride is and how the community feels. 

“While much has changed since the 1900s, there is still needed action to make them feel included and appreciated today. My hope is to not only educate myself even more from fellow Alliance members and students on campus, but to encourage you all to do the same – hear firsthand experiences and strive for change.”

– Michelle Opolencia, Intern

New Grounds for Queer Friendships and Relationships

“I believe that Pride Month should be celebrated year-round. This year I’ve made an extra effort to cherish my queer friendships even more. Since prioritizing these friendships, I’ve found more of a community and a deeper acceptance of myself.

“I’m extremely grateful for my friends and how they treat me equally in every aspect of my life. With them, I don’t need a label to feel validated in their presence. Their love and support grants me the confidence to be my authentic self and I’m always able to have a great time with them. I encourage others to reach out and be a sort of lifesaver for their friends, too.”

– Noelia Almanzar, Intern

“This has been my first June living outside of the deep-south. It has been quite mundane (in the best ways) and has been filled with a quiet, casual acceptance that I have never known. I see multiple rainbow flags on drives that stay up year-round. I can mention my girlfriend without judgment, and we can go on dates without stares and whispers. My everyday life now feels how I always imagined Pride Month would.

“While I have not attended any Pride events, my newfound acceptance gives me hope for my community. Hope that one day being part of the LGBTQ+ community will no longer put a target on someone’s back. Hope that people will dispose of the hate and replace it with acceptance. Hope that we will one day be a compassionate society. Because a society like that – with kindness, love and respect – will pave the way for a truly sustainable world for us all.”

– Dominique Thomas, Intern

Credit: National Geographic

An Exhilarating Tradition for LGBTQ+ and Allies Alike

“While I have not yet been to a Pride event this year, I have been going to NYC Pride since I was 15. This year, NYC Pride is on June 30th, and I will be attending. Going to the Pride parade has become something of a tradition for me and my friends — I’ve been going with the same group of people, more or less every year.

“I’ve been to other Pride events in NJ, but none of them can compare to NYC Pride in terms of sheer numbers. It’s definitely not for people who can’t stand crowds! All throughout the day, Washington Square Park is absolutely swarming with people, and there are countless marching bands and groups going down streets wherever you turn. I think it’s a lot to take in, but the experience can also be exhilarating, and it’s amazing to see so many queer people and allies gathered together.”

— Lexi Tassone, Intern

“I’m a straight, Jewish, 73-year old white male and I love Gay Pride because of the joy and freedom of people to be safely seen and fully express themselves. Don’t we all want that? As a Jew, feminist and sustainability leader fully committed to fundamental human rights for all people, I believe Never Again applies as much to the Holocaust as discrimination against anyone — from people of color and everyone who is LGBTQ+ to Jews, Muslims and differently-abled people.

Pride is the joyous, safe space to celebrate who we are, whether gay or straight. I was so inspired by my first Pride that I have flown a Pride and American flag on my bike ever since. For me, Pride is every day. I want to be an ally and remind everyone we can create the inclusive world of our dreams.“

— Terry Gips, Alliance President

The Mom of a Queer Trans Daughter and Her Secret Dream

“As the mother of a queer trans daughter, Pride during June is a happy time of celebrating my courageous and amazing daughter and the many people like her, who live out their true selves with joy and generosity. Yet we clearly live in a country and a world where not only are LGBTQ+ people discriminated against and harassed, but where many people are working hard every day to remove their rights. I find this astounding, and I hope to always be astounded that people dedicate time and energy to taking away rights from other human beings.

“I’ll tell you a secret – I dream of the day when I don’t have to describe my daughter and others like her as ‘courageous.’ I dream of the day when it’s laughable to think of gender as a binary, sexuality is celebrated in all forms by consenting adults and everyone is safe and free to be exactly who they are.

“Does this sound like another step towards true sustainability – respecting all beings (and really all living things) for who and what they are, building community, practicing radical acceptance and living with continual awe of beautiful diversity? I believe it’s a crucial step without which we will never live sustainably.”

— Amy Durr, Alliance Communications Coordinator

What the Alliance Desires from the World

Our experiences and perspectives about Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community may be different, but our mission is all the same — co-creating a world of sustainability, health, equity, kindness, love, inclusion and so much more. We are allies with the LGBTQ+ community, and will continue to fight until the day this community receives the recognition, equality, respect, and utmost joy they deserve. Pride Month should be an everyday, year-round event. We hope you’ll join us in continuing to learn more and pushing for long-needed fundamental changes.

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