5 Queer Holidays You NEED to Know!

All communities have observations that are symbolic, so why should queer folk be any different? Globally, we have reached a critical turning point in so many ways so quickly that it’s pretty mind-boggling. There’s still a LOT of work that needs to be done, but between all of our strides for liberation, there’s time to recognize our triumphs and remember those who’ve been lost on the way. So without further ado, here are 5 queer holidays you need to be on top of!

International Transgender Day of Visibility

On March 31, folks raise awareness of trans discrimination and, more importantly, celebrate trans people–their lives, their experiences, the promise of a bright future. It was founded in 2009 by Michigan activist Rachel Crandall who lamented that, until that point, there had only been Transgender Day of Remembrance, which served to mourn the loss of trans lives. ITDoV celebrates life, living, and the future.

Day of Silence

Typically observed on the third Friday of April, Day of Silence is observed in solidarity with youth who were and are being bullied by remaining silent. In my experience, this has been in addition to wearing buttons or handing out cards explaining the reason for your silence. Typically the cards come with a call to action, telling them to go to a website to find more information or attend a local/campus event.

LGBTQ Pride Month

queer pride month, lgbtq,You know what this is! Pride Month is celebrated in June. It’s basically a build up to the main event: The Pride Parade. It’s meant to show everyone “we’re here, we’re queer!” And that’s about as far as most agreement goes for it. For some people, the parade is too out of hand and showy. For others, it’s served its purpose and should be terminated. For others still, it’s celebratory for all the wrong reasons. But that’s an entire post in and of itself.

Queer History Month

Observed in October (February in the UK), Queer History Month is a month-long remembrance of our collective historical narratives and triumphs. It’s also a time to go out and learn more. You can learn to complicate your understandings of history, broaden your scope to learn about struggles in other communities in your country or internationally, and discover how the past has shaped the present and what you can do to contribute to the future.

Intersex Awareness Day

intersex symbol, intersex pride,According to the now-defunct Intersex-awareness-day.org, IAD is observed on October 26:

Intersex Awareness Day is the (inter)national day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.

“Intersex” refers to a series of conditions where a person’s genetalia is “ambiguous” and the person can’t be “neatly” defined as male or female. Intersex is  shrouded in misinformation and ignorance by the larger society (but it doesn’t have to be) and many intersex people are subjected to controversial “treatments” that include surgery, hormones, and in some cases sterilization. The holiday is about bringing visibility to a spectrum of people fighting erasure and battling misinformation in all its forms.


We kept this list short for the sake of brevity, but there are plenty of other observances out there. And remember: All these holidays started because of community action and the need to honor, respect, and advance ourselves. What holidays would you add to this list and which “established” ones would you recommend for the next list?

Exploring Contemporary Queer Black Men

When we talk about the narratives surrounding queer people or the narratives surrounding Black people (specifically men), we rarely do justice for the people at the cross-section of both axes: Queer Black men. It is as though all queer people are white and all Black men are homophobic heterosexuals. Ironically (or perhaps not), when we do talk about Black queers, it is often in humiliating and dehumanizing ways–a fertile ground for colonial-era stereotypes of exotic others and tired media tropes of innate criminality, both dripping with portrayals of a hypersexed Black body.

In a storify, I’ve compiled relevant tweets (almost all) from those who have used the hashtag #NotYourPornhubCategory to share their experiences, make a stand in resistance, and affirm one another. I also contextualize its beginning and respond to well-meaning criticism while using the concept of microaggressions to further contextualize the hashtag. Read More

Support Queer Businesses for Stronger Community

If you don’t take care of your body, it dies. The same thing happens to your community.

Communities are held together by commonality and protection of values against larger groups, but they are further empowered by business ownership and supporting businesses in your community. While discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender expression and identity are a few of the obstacles that are not easily overcome, concerted community effort and standards help queer businesses survive, if not thrive.

When you support queer businesses, you stand in solidarity with those who risk standing up to corporate producers on your behalf, you encourage small business growth and livelihood opportunities for your community, and you play a role in helping your community thrive.

black business owner, queer business support
Image courtesy of afwed.org

Solidarity with Mavericks

By actively creating a business—especially in our social and political climate—queer business owners risk it all by daring to leave the relative safety of established employment. The risk is even more high stakes when we consider ethnicity and gender factors into who gets the business loans they apply for. (Hint: Being white, cis and “straight acting” helps a ton.) At any rate, these brave maverick heroes put their creativity and ambition to the test in the real world and we should support them.

When I lived in Atlanta as a younger man, I lived in Midtown (also known as the gay ghetto). There were several queer small businesses concentrated in the area, and I tried to go to the ones I knew were owned by queer folks. I had ignored them at first—we’re all equal so I should go to any place, right!?—but I eventually realized that the reason there was such a strong sense of community and safety was because of the presence of the business owners making a stand to carve out space.

Growth and Cohesion

It’s one thing to run a Mom&Mom’s shop that engages favorably with the community. But when that Mom&Mom’s grows to become a Mom&Mom&Us’s, it’s a sign of strong community support. Also, when businesses grow and expand, so does the need for capable and hardworking staff. That’s when members of the community benefit in another way.

When I was a junior in college, I was sponsored for a paid internship at the Atlanta Voice by members of the community. The Atlanta Voice had a small staff and my contribution helped lessen the workload on them. It also allowed me to gain journalism experience in my community and go to places I never would have. The sponsors were a great couple I had become friends with because we both supported the same queer bookstore some years earlier.

Perspective: The summer where I couldn’t find a single paid internship or paying job, I found a place to learn immensely valuable skills and get paid simultaneously because people invested their time and energy back into the community.

black business leader future, queer businesses

We Came to Thrive

When you support queer businesses, you help the community thrive. This in turn does a number of things: It creates employment opportunities and allows us to set the example for awesome workplaces that understand our concerns, it raises the quality of life for the people in the community who get to know the money they’ve spent is going to someone who is just as invested in your community, and it turns the heads of corporations who only speak the language of money and tells them we are important and if they want our continued business they’ll have to get on board.

As I mentioned earlier, I lived in Midtown. There were several businesses owned by hetero people and also several chains. Two in particular had vastly different business practices: One made an effort to be a part of the community and encouraged its employees (queer and not) to make meaningful connections. The other allowed its employees to be homophobic under the guise of free speech and did the bare minimum in the way of accommodation. Guess which business closed after two months.

When to Not Support Queer Business

queer businesses thrive
In the beginning of this text, I waxed poetic about the nature of community and the beauty of supporting our folks. I stand by that. But I also stand by the idea that business owners need to be responsible and held accountable. If a business owner is prejudiced, exploitative, or otherwise shady, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do business with them.

I was once in a café and overheard a couple talking about the discriminatory practices employed by the owner of the very restaurant we were in. Apparently he was fifty shades of anti-nonwhite when it came to hiring. I Yelped the place and found some comments that mirrored what I heard the couple saying. As I was in college and in my RAH-RAH! activist phase, I texted my date before his arrival and asked him to meet me at the restaurant next door instead. It was not queer owned, but we had a great experience anyway. (For the purposes of full disclosure, the bad restaurant has since come under new management and now hires all stripes of women and men.)


It’s necessary to support our communities for our own prosperity, but also to show people in wider society that we will not put up with being second and third class citizens. It’s also necessary to demand standards from the businesses in our communities. Where I lived, there were very few businesses owned by queer people of color (I typically supported them online if I could find them), but damned if I was going to support a queer business owner that was racist or xenophobic.

At any rate, spread the word about supporting queer businesses!