The beginning of June marks the start of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month. This is a time focused on celebrating queer individuals and their community as a whole, as well as the continuing fight for LGBTQIA+ equality. The history of Pride Month begins with the Stonewall Riots. These historical riots began when NYC police raided a gay club called Stonewall Inn the morning of June 28th, 1969. Although police raids of gay clubs and bars were common during the ‘60s, this particular raid was a surprise to the bar and its patrons. Those in the club were forcefully removed, but many lingered to protest the police. Anger within the harassed people, on-lookers, and police reached a climax, and a violent riot began. The fight and protest lasted for six days. The Stonewall Riots were the catalyst for a stronger push for LGBTQIA+ activism. On the one year anniversary of Stonewall, the first gay pride parade/march took place in the streets of Manhattan, New York. The parade became a yearly event and quickly spread to other parts of the nation, eventually evolving into the Pride Month celebrations that occur today.
There are many ways to celebrate Pride Month for both members of the queer community and allies. In Idaho Falls, there is a Pride Night Chukars game on Friday, June 24th. Following the baseball game, June 25th is the IF Pride parade and festival. Parade lineup will take place at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church. The parade will begin around 10:00 a.m., follow the Greenbelt, and loop back to where the festival is taking place. The festival will be taking place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will be live music, vendors, kid corners, and other interactive opportunities. A drag show will also take place that Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Boise Pride parade and festival will be taking place after pride month on September 9th-11th.
Another great way to celebrate and support is to donate to LGBTQIA+ charities and organizations. A few great options to choose from are The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, The Martha P. Johnson Institute, Human Rights Campaign, and Encircle. Support can also be shown through buying from queer-owned businesses. Other ways to be an ally to LGBTQIA+ during this month is to become educated about struggles and injustices the community faces and the history of their fight for gay rights.
Pride Month is time for LGBTQIA+ individuals to celebrate their identities and an opportunity for others to be an ally. Pride Month came to life because of those who fought for gay rights, and this month is dedicated to recognizing queer struggles, accomplishments, and the people in the amazing and ever-expanding community.
Occurring May 30th of every year, Memorial Day is an American federal holiday that celebrates the deceased from various American wars. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because relatives and soldiers would decorate loved ones' graves. Decoration Day was originally to remember the soldiers from the Civil War. The name officially changed after World War II, and now memorializes soldiers from every war.
The roots of Memorial Day stem back to 1864 during the Civil War. The amount of casualties was enormous. The death toll from the Civil War caused America’s first large-scale cemeteries to be built such as Battleground National Cemetery and the Vicksburg National Cemetery During this period, mourners decorated graves with bouquets of flowers in remembrance of their deceased friends and family. On the very first Decoration Day, James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery while over 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of over 20,000 Civil War soldiers. The first state to officially recognize this holiday was New York in 1873. The South did not initially accept the holiday and chose to honor soldiers independently. The South finally accepted the holiday after it expanded to remembering soldiers from every war.
In this excerpt from the book Confederate Soldier In the Civil War, Ben La Bree describes a confederate soldier who wanted to help his allies, even if it meant sacrificing his own life:
All day long the wounded were calling, "Water! Water! Water!" In the afternoon, Sergeant Kirtland, a Confederate soldier, went to the headquarters of General Kershaw, and said with deep emotion: "General, all through last night and to-day - I have been hearing those poor wounded Federal soldiers out there cry for water. Let me go and give them some." "Don't you know," replied the general, "that you would get a bullet through you the moment you stepped over the wall?" "Yes, sir," said the sergeant - "but if you will let me go I am willing to try it." The general reflected a minute, then answered: "Kirtland, I ought not to allow you to take this risk, but the spirit that moves you is so noble I cannot refuse. Go, and may God protect you!"
Decoration Day was a direct cause of the civil war. The Civil War ended slavery and created a holiday to remember. On memorial day we honor those who risked their lives and put our freedom first.
June 5th is annually celebrated and led by the United Nations Environment Programme as World Environment Day, a day created to encourage positive change for the environment. World Environment Day was first recognized in 1974 by the United Nations and is now the most prominent global platform for environmental outreach. It is led and hosted by a different country every year, this year's host being Sweden. This will give Sweden a chance to display its environmental protection and rehabilitation efforts over the last 50 years. Sweden has reduced its usage of fossil fuels which has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by more then 30 percent from 1990 to 2020. (https://www.worldenvironmentday.global)
Each year there is a new theme picked that puts focus on a specific environmental issue, 2022’s theme is “#OnlyOneEarth” putting the main focus on “living sustainably in harmony with nature” (https://www.unep.org). Living a sustainable lifestyle involves using recyclable or reusable materials, being aware of environmental changes in the area, driving less, along with several other methods. The United Nations’ goal is to spread worldwide awareness and protect the environment with the help of civilians worldwide.
Along with World Environment Day, June 8th is World Ocean Day. A day that aims to support collaborative conservation efforts for the ocean with the help of its “global network of youth” and “organizational leaders in >140 countries.” The day was proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 as a way to honor the ocean while also promoting positive environmental change for it. The day is led by the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council. Its mission is to motivate communities to work together globally, to “protect and restore our shared ocean and climate.” (https://worldoceanday.org/about/)
Both days share the same goal of creating and advocating for communities around the world to participate in productive and positive changes to help the environment and oceans. With the help of the population, the founders of these organizations hope to one day provide later generations with a cleaner and safer world. To learn more about these important days and ways to help the environment and oceans, visit these websites -
June 1st marks another less-known holiday: National Pen Pal Day! Although having a pen pal seems old and outdated, modern technology opens even more possibilities to connect with people around the world.
Pen pals can accomplish more than just busting boredom on a rainy day. Finding and talking with a pen pal is a great way to meet new people and form new relationships. Many online services connect the user with a random recipient; these include PenPal World, Postcrossing, and Compatipal. Along with others, most of these websites use digital messaging instead of physical letters. One could also request their new pen pal’s address to start sending physical letters via the mail.
Writing letters is also a great way to provide companionship to the elderly who might not have friends or family who live near them. Visit ReadyToCare.com/penpals and submit a letter to get in touch with an aging adult. Then, share your email or mailing address and continue writing letters back and forth!
In addition to the other benefits, pen pals can have an educational value. Many high school students take classes to learn a new language, but classroom instruction does not always make up for real-world practices. Conversation Exchange is a global platform that allows students to communicate with native speakers of whichever language they want. They can build new friendships and language skills with voice, video, writing, and other language resources.
Writing letters is also a great way to get back in touch with people you used to know. For example, one could write a letter or email to a relative who lives far away, a friend who moved to another state, or a teacher they had in elementary school. Along with meeting new people, one might meet new relatives! I recently contacted a cousin who lives in Wales, and I have since made a new friend and learned so much about a different country.
For something to do over the summer, consider visiting one of these websites, or ask a relative for the address of someone who lives farther away! Pen pals provide companionship for both the receiver and the sender; they are a great way to work on language skills and learn about a different culture.