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Pride is becoming a little like queer Christmas. Every time the season rolls around, everyone breaks out the rainbows, the flags in every color combination to represent all the identities of the rainbow. Events are planned, parties are thrown, drinks are had, and the perfect Pride outfits are thrown together.

Usually in June, but really all throughout the summer months, cities and towns everywhere are painted rainbow. This doesn’t just happen through a lot of volunteer activities, but also by a lot of businesses and organizations collaborating and making Pride happen.

For queer businesses like OUT FRONT, Pride is becoming a lot like the retail season that starts in November. Instead of one week or weekend of festivities, there are weeks and weeks of planning to be done, events to be set up, and organizations to be interviewed. Putting on Pride, and coming out with this magazine, takes  a lot of effort.

But, also much like Christmas, in all this excitement and color, or the hustle and bustle of working during Pride, it’s easy to get lost in the money to be made, fun to be had, drinks to be poured, and parties to be attended. It’s easy to forget the true meaning of Pride.

Pride means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but above all, it’s about owning who you are, coming out and showing it, and demanding respect. It’s not a selfish thing, though. It’s also about sharing that sense of self-respect with everyone else out there, both honoring each individual person and his, her, or their identity, and also the community as a whole. This is why it has been so important for those besides just gay and lesbian folks to get involved and show their Pride as well. Part of the reason the event is growing in popularity is because a lot more people are taking part.

In this tense political time, with so many threats facing queer people, this sense of unity is even more important. Having a special time set aside to honor and recognize how far LGBTQ people have come, and how much togetherness we have, is essential. There may be a lot of dark clouds on the horizon when it comes to queer rights, but that is exactly what makes Pride so important.

So, while Pride may be a commercialized holiday now, and while there may be a lot of planning, or partying, to do in conjunction with this holiday, Pride is important. And it’s not about the money made during Pride season, or the outfits or events or Pride swag given out and bought. It’s about the love and community everyone feels, the way people connect, the rights we have won, and the struggles still yet to be faced.

This year, don’t just focus on going out or looking your best, and do more than march, attend PrideFest, or go to a party. Do something to help another queer person, or talk to a family member or friend about your identity. Pride may be growing in popularity and commercial appeal each year, but the spirit is the same. And regardless of your feelings about how Pride is celebrated, it’s a spirit worth saving.