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Honoring PRIDE Month and Our Emotions!

By June 1, 2024No Comments

This reflection on Chicago Pride is authored by Jack Smith-Moore, MSW, LCSW, a member of the IntraSpectrum Counseling team.


Chicago Pride is one of the largest demonstrations of LGBTQ+ Pride in the world, with events popping up everywhere throughout the month of June, culminating in a Grant Park fest with more than 60,000 attendees, and the Pride Parade with close to 150 floats/vendors and 1+million attendees consecutively over the last 10 years.

This parade, which remains a protest, resembles more of a celebration of all the progress that has been made since the first Chicago Pride parade in 1970 (which had MAYBE 200 attendees). During the parade, there are reminders that while there is so much progress that has been made to get here, there has been so much pain, sacrifice, and suffering. That pain, sacrifice, and suffering continues in our zealous hope to propel ALL members, of the LGBTQ+ community, especially our trans and non-binary communities, and even more so our Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous members.

I’d started to write a blog about honoring what PRIDE is about this year – a protest for continued acceptance and celebration of ALL of our identities, bringing up all the work that’s been done and still needs to be done. But in writing the previous paragraph, I’m noticing a build of emotions, some that are at odds with each other. I am brought back to an exercise I just recently did with one of my clients this week, to help grasp the complexity of our emotions and validate them, called the “Emotion Jar.”

The “Emotion Jar” is a great way to honor and validate our internal experience and allow us an opportunity to observe what we are feeling, understand that these emotions are like signals trying to tell us something, and identify how we may want to respond. So in this blog, I’m going to go through my “Emotion Jar” for the complex experience of PRIDE.

In my PRIDE emotion jar, I am feeling:

Excitement – It makes sense that I feel excited; the weather is warmer, I’ll be having friends, colleagues, and family over for a pre-parade get together, I’m going to be dancing and listening to all of my favorite LGBTQ+ artists. It makes sense!

Regret – It makes sense that during Pride month, the feeling of regret comes up. I came out a bit later in life, and even after I came out, I struggled quite a bit with internalized stigma of my sexual identity and did not really embrace myself the way I wish I did. Feelings of regret come up sometimes when I see all of the young out and proud folks showing their true selves in wondering if I could have had that if I had come out sooner.

Joy/Happiness – I mean, SO many reasons why one would feel joy or happiness during this time. Happy that I get to work with a community I belong to, happy I get to see our community struggle and grow, happy that through my own journey I am learning new ways to find fulfillment in my life and share that joy with those I care about.

Sadness – It makes sense to feel sadness during this month, sadness in how much time and life has been cut down and continues to get cut down in the fight to have each other seen and accepted, including ourselves. It makes sense to feel sad when you look at what you may have lost in your own journey: friends, family, careers and comfort, just to name a few.

Sense of Achievement – In looking back to efforts, protests, and sacrifices for LGBTQ+ rights well before the Stonewall Riots and after, there is a sense of achievement, even honor and privilege, in being part of a community that has a history of never being silent, advocating for what is right, and led by all different identities, especially the Black Trans community. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community comes with being a part of its history of facilitating changes impacting so many.

Anger/Frustration – Even while feeling that sense of achievement, it seems to be paired with anger and frustration. It makes sense to feel angry that there is still so much that needs to be done, all the while legislative forces all over the world, and especially in our country to protect the status quo. They are particularly attacking and aiming attacks at those that have done so much, and many would argue (and I would agree) even more, to push LGBTQ+, womens rights, voting rights, and racial equity causes further; our trans and non-binary people of color, who statistically are already disempowered by socio economic status and other disenfranchised identities.

Hope – It makes sense to feel so much hope during the month of Pride, in seeing those of the LGBTQ+ community recognized for their achievements and work towards bringing our community closer to an equitable place in society; to young individuals coming out, be loud and proud, and pushing to be seen and recognized for who they are; and to the efforts of so many fighting back against those forces attacking and aiming their attacks at those in our community who are the most vulnerable.

These are some of the emotions that are in my PRIDE “Emotion Jar.” In naming and validating these complex and somewhat opposing emotions, it’s easier to take the cap off the jar and gently hold them and allow the emotions to be true at the same time. In doing so, my intention for myself and hope for you all is finding ways to respond to these emotions. For me, it may look like hanging our Progress Pride Flag out to share the joy and sense of achievement, taking a walk along Elise Mallory Way to reflect and allow myself to experience the sadness I have for those lost, or maybe in response to my anger and hope I can explore how I can be more involved in my local community.

Pride Month is an eventful time that can bring up many emotions, memories, and experiences for us. My hope for this blog is to remind myself and others that we are allowed and have the capacity to hold these complex emotions gently and honor them. In honoring our own emotions, memories, and experiences, we can more fully be present in honoring and celebrating PRIDE.

For more info and resources on LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2024, click these links:

Chicago Pride Parade
Chicago Pride Fest 
Human Rights Campaign: We Show Up Louder with Pride


IntraSpectrum Counseling is proud to celebrate Chicago Pride! This reflection on Pride Month is authored by Jack Smith-Moore, MSW, LCSW, a member of the IntraSpectrum Counseling team. As Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, IntraSpectrum Counseling provides the highest quality mental health care for clients of all ages and across the spectrum of identities. For anyone needing affirming and validating support or healing with any issue, please click here or email us at