It’s the queerest time of the year – yes, the whole month of June – when the LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate being out and proud. Pride started as a protest outside the Stonewall Inn in 1969 in New York, and the community wouldn’t be as outspoken as it is today without the work of Black and Latinx transgender women.
The coronavirus pandemic thwarted traditional Pride parades and other debauchery last year. With the country reopening again, members of the LGBTQ community can more readily gather safely this time around.
But how are LGBTQ celebrities partaking in Pride Month this year, and what does it mean to them? We asked some – and are monitoring many others’ social media accounts throughout June – to tell us their thoughts.
Miley Cyrus seeks to put a stop to homophobia
Miley Cyrus’s message for Pride was blunt: “STOP homophobia whenever and wherever you see it,” the singer wrote on Instagram alongside photos of herself next to a stop sign. She tagged her Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to LGBTQ youth, homeless citizens and other vulnerable communities.
The former Disney star spoke about being pansexual and gender-fluid in Variety’s 2016 Power of Women L.A. issue and said she discovered her identity through through the LGBTQ center in L.A.
“I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female,” she said. “Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life. Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral.”
Alexandra Shipp says it’s ‘never too late to be you’
“X-Men: Apocalypse” star Alexandra Shipp took to Instagram on June 3 to share “regrets” for not coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community earlier and to encourage fans to be themselves.
“I didn’t come out until I was 28. Though I don’t believe in regrets, this would definitely be #1 for myself. I denied denied denied,” Shipp wrote. “I struggled with not only my sexuality, but my femininity. I was scared it was too late. I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to get work. I was scared no one would ever love me. Scared. Scared. Scared.”
The 29-year-old added that she is now “happy in ways I don’t think my kid self could imagine.”
“It’s never too late to be you. If I don’t work because of a flawed, racist and homophobic system, then it was never the right thing for me … I’m not scared anymore. I have #pride in who I am and what I’m doing on this planet.”
Janelle Monáe encourages LGBTQ community to ‘shine hard’
Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual during a 2018 Rolling Stone interview and in 2021 she is using social media to spread love.
Pansexuality is attraction to all gender identities, or attracted to people regardless of gender, according to GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
Saturday the “Tightrope” singer reposted words from a tweet by LGBTQ writer and activist Alexander Leon.
“Queer people don’t grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise (sic) humiliation & prejudice,” Leon wrote. “The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & which parts we’ve created to protect us.”
She finished the post with a series of emojis including rainbows and spaceships calling herself a “kid for life.”
“For those of us who spent time in the dark and had to build worlds to protect ourselves Shine HARD. I love us,” she wrote.
Former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ contestant Lio Tipton comes out as queer, nonbinary
Lio Tipton who starred in Cycle 11 of “America’s Next Top Model” and played the role of babysitter Jessica in the movie “Crazy, Stupid, Love” reintroduced themself on Instagram Wednesday.
“Hi. My name is Lio. My pronouns are they/them. I am proud to announce I am queer and I identify as non binary,” they wrote.
Tipton’s caption was linked to an illustration featuring a unique robot among other droids depicted to match one of two categories a call to the binary nature of gender.
They finished the post with a rainbow flag and a heart writing: “I hope to give as much love and support back to those who continue to show love and support for the Pride community at large.”
‘High School Musical’ spinoff actor Larry Saperstein comes out as bisexual
Actor Larry Saperstein, who plays Big Red on Disney+ show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” announced he is bisexual Tuesday on social media.
Saperstein, 23, shared in a TikTok video that he “plays a character with a girlfriend on TV,” but “is bi (in real life).” In the current season, his character, a theater tech crew member-turned-performer, is dating fellow theater cast member Ashlyn (Julia Lester).
“is it really that unexpected tho #pride,” Saperstein added of his announcement in the video caption.
Laverne Cox celebrates intersectional Pride
Laverne Cox, who has made waves in Hollywood as a trans woman, posted on Instagram to celebrate Pride with the theory of intersectionality.
The “Orange is the New Black” star listed names of Black feminists who contributed to the theory of intersectionality which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”
“My pride is intersectional. I bring all of me into pride month. I believe true liberation must be intersectional,” Cox wrote.
Under a photo of Cox dressed in a golden leotard, she named 11 key figures of intersectionality and called on her fans to name the rest.
“There are so many names. Who have I left out? List them below. Happy Pride Month,” she wrote.
Tan France wants to ‘champion diversity’ for LGBTQ community
“Queer Eye” style expert Tan France who is expecting his first child with husband Rob, opened Pride Month with an Instagram post of him fashionably wrapped in a rainbow flag with a star-like flower adorned on his head.
In the caption France made it a point to approach Pride Month with love and support.
“Let’s celebrate and champion the diversity of our community,” France wrote. “Let’s show compassion to those who don’t feel that they can come out yet, and offer them love and support as they work through it, knowing there is a supportive community, waiting to welcome them with open arms and hearts.”
Busy Philipps praises her child Birdie for Pride Month
The “Girls5Eva” actress posted a selfie of her and 12-year-old child Birdie, who came out as gay last year and uses them/they pronouns, to celebrate Pride Month.
“Today is the start of PRIDE MONTH! I have so much pride for this kid and everything they are and do,” Philipps wrote.
She shares Birdie with her husband, screenwriter Marc Silverstein, and took to Instagram to brag on Birdie’s ability to give back.
“Birdie decided to start gathering the unopened makeup and hygiene items from me and other influencer types(actors, singers, makeup and hair artists) to donate to the @lalgbtcenter for the queer and trans youth that the Center provides a safe space for,” Philipps wrote. “Well. Thanks to many of my friends, Birdie was able to donate HUNDREDS of items to the center.”
In December 2020, Philipps revealed on an episode her podcast “Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best,” that Birdie was gay and used nonbinary pronouns.
“I want Birdie to be in control of their own narrative and not have to answer to anybody outside of our friends and family if they don’t want to,” Philipps said.
Taylor Swift urges senators to pass the equality act
The “You Need To Calm Down” singer is “proudly” teaming up with GLAAD for its “Summer of Equality” campaign to help get the Equality Act passed.
“Who you love and how you identify shouldn’t put you in danger, leave you vulnerable or hold you back in life,” Swift wrote in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday. “I proudly join GLAAD in their #summerofequality and add my voice to those who support The Equality Act. Happy Pride Month!”
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. Those protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education and other areas.
Swift took a moment to thank her fellow “courageous activists, advocates and allies for their dedication to fighting against discrimination and hatred.”
She continued: “As always, today I am sending my respect and love to those bravely living out their truth, even when the world we live in still makes that so hard to do.”
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GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis thanked Swift for her advocacy and said the goal of their “Summer of Equality” campaign is to “get every senator to vote yes.”
The bill passed the U.S. House 224-206 in February, with all Democrats but just three Republicans supporting it. Its fate in the closely divided Senate is uncertain. The House also passed the bill in the last Congress, but it didn’t advance to the Senate.
Niecy Nash: ‘Love should be at the forefront’
Niecy Nash and wife Jessica Betts got married in August – when virtually no one even knew Nash was queer.
“I am proud of who I am,” she says. “I am proud of my relationship. I’m proud of our marriage. I am just proud to be a Black woman who (lives) life on her own terms and does it out loud.”
How’s she digging the newlywed life? “It’s treating me great,” she says. “I’m married to one of the most beautiful souls.” A typical weekend for the pair involves good food, swimming and relaxing in the hot tub, she says.
Nash didn’t know what to expect once she revealed her truth to the world, “but my close friends and family were extremely supportive and so that was the most important part for me,” she says.
She’s been vocal about how she didn’t come out – she “never hid anything” – but rather came into herself.
“I feel like you only really need courage in the face of fear,” she says. “And I don’t know if I was afraid in as much as I was just cautious, because I did not know how we were going to be received in the world.”
Plans for her first Pride Month aren’t set in stone yet, but she encourages people to lead with love.
“The world needs so much love right now because we’ve come through a really tough year and there’s so many things happening in the world that bring stress and chaos,” she says. “Love should be at the forefront of any conversation that anybody is having.”
Candis Cayne reflects on first Pride, need to band together for trans community
Actress Candis Cayne acknowledged that Pride has changed over the years – especially since she came out (Cayne came out twice, but as transgender in 1995).
“When I first came out, Pride Month was about fighting for our rights. It was about marching, it was about telling the world that we were OK with who we were, and we were valued people in the community. And luckily, more and more, it’s been accepted,” she says. That said, there’s still a ways to go.
Her first Pride was in New York City, where she saw a sea of people on Fifth Avenue.
“I remember just vividly thinking, ‘There’s more of us out there than I thought,’ ” she says. She’s done New York Pride for about 20 years, including performing on floats, and she recalled dressing as Wonder Woman and jumping off a truck and pretending to push it forward and backward – a magical, quintessential Pride moment.
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She doesn’t have plans just yet for Pride – she is vaccinated and encourages others to do the same – but “might just have a get together and celebrate Pride in a more intimate way this year.”
“Seeing how our community’s being affected right now, with all the legislation, how trans women of color are being murdered at an alarming rate, I think that’s something that we really need to focus on as a community and band together,” she says.
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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ actor Jake Borelli talks growing in his queerness
“Grey’s Anatomy” star Jake Borelli viewed Pride Month as a celebration when he was younger. But after publicly coming out in 2018 and spending more time in queer spaces with a variety of queer people, he had time to reflect on what Pride is really about.
“As I’ve grown in my queerness, and my relationship to my own queerness, I know wholeheartedly that it’s a riot, and it is a protest,” the actor, who plays Dr. Levi Schmitt, says. “At this point in my queerness, I feel like I can’t allow myself to stand anymore for the negative way society has made me feel about my queerness and Pride and Pride Month, and Pride gatherings.”
The absence of physical queer spaces during the pandemic forced him to think even deeper.
“That caused me to start thinking a lot more introspectively about what it means to be queer and what growing up as a gay person surrounded by straight people really actually did to my psyche in the long term, and I’ve found myself having to re-parent myself right now as as a queer man, re-parenting my younger queer self,” he says.
He’s been to a host of different Pride celebrations in his life, from Los Angeles and New York to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
“It was such an incredible experience to go back to my hometown where I was fully closeted, and didn’t feel like I could be my full self and to see that there was an entire group of people who were pushing forward in Columbus for the queer community and had been forever,” he says.
His advice for queer people going on similar journeys as himself?
“Be patient with yourself and everyone who’s around you,” he says with a laugh. “I have to remind myself that every day.”
Leyna Bloom talks Pride Month, how she celebrates ‘every single day’
“Port Authority” star Leyna Bloom recently opened up to USA TODAY in a Q&A about how she celebrates Pride Month daily.
“Pride is not just this time when we can explore things that are in us that we’re raised to suppress and now we’re taught to express it in the sun and in the streets and the world just for one month,” Bloom says. “It’s something that I have to do every single day of my life. I have to wake up and be proud that I’m alive and (ask) ‘Why am I here? And what am I doing here, and am I going to be able to help people?’
“Through all the most traumatic experiences in my life and in the world, seeds are being planted everywhere I go. And this summer 2021, everything is blooming at the same time: Sports Illustrated, movies, TV shows. It is really a moment to be Black, be queer, be trans, be Asian, so I’m just honestly going to celebrate every single day that I’m allowed to be alive to have those moments. So I’m really excited to see what else I can do and how we can elevate our community to unite.”
Contributing: Anika Reed and Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
For more on that interview: ‘Port Authority’ star Leyna Bloom on trans love story, how she celebrates Pride Month daily
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pride 2021: Miley Cyrus, Lio Tipton, more LGBTQ stars celebrate month