On June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen. Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For days following the event, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.

Common Terminology

The following common terminology, provided by the Human Rights Campaign, can be found here and helps to expand our vocabulary and broaden our understanding of issues related to the LGBTQIA+ community. Having an informed vocabulary, and an openness to learn and understand, allows us to engage appropriately in conversations around LGBTQIA+ issues and connect with people from this community. 

Please note: This list of terminology is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible terms and phrases related to the LGBTQIA+ community, but rather considered a “stepping stone” in becoming familiar with commonly used words used to refer to people from this community. 

Pride Flag

As an allied organization and as a commitment to providing visibility to any folks who identify with this community, it’s important for us to showcase the Pride Flag and provide information on its recent changes. Originally, the well-known symbol for Pride Month is the historic rainbow flag, created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. Each of the six stripes represents an idea that is resonant with the LGBTQIA+ community – red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for peace, and purple for spirit. In 2018, a designer named Daniel Quasar offered a redesign of the official flag called the Progress Pride Flag, which highlights the intersectionality and diversity found within the LGBTQIA+ community. The white, blue, and pink are the colors of the trans flag, and the black and brown stripes represent the marginalized racial and ethnic minorities found within the community. The second flag gained popularity upon its release, and though it hasn’t been labeled as the official pride flag, it’s becoming more widely used due to the increased representation and intersectionality that exists within the community.

Historic Landmarks

June 1969

Stonewall Riots/Gay Liberation Movement

June 1970

First Pride Parades in major cities

December 1973

Homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness 

June 1978

Pride Flag is born

June 1981

First official reporting of what will become known as the AIDS epidemic

September 1982

CDC uses term “AIDS” for first time, definition not limited to gay men

October 1987

AIDS Memorial Quilt is created and displayed during D.C. Pride

May 1991

First Black Pride

October 2009

President Obama signs Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevent Act in law, expanding legislation on racist hate crimes to include hate also based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability 

September 2011

President Obama repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which prevented out LGBTQIA+ community members from serving in the U.S. military

January 2015

President Obama addresses LGBTQIA+ community in State of the Union Address for the first time in history

June 2015

“Sexual orientation” is added to military’s anti-discrimination policy

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-gender couples

May 2016

New York City’s Stonewall Inn is recognized as a national monument

May 2019

Trailblazers and activists from the Gay Liberation Movement, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, are memorialized with a monument in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York

June 2020

U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex

Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Before diving in specific issues and concerns that the LGBTQIA+ community faces, it’s important to differentialize between a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, and physical and intimate attraction. The Gender Unicorn graphic (shown below) portrays each of these concepts as a spectrum, allowing a person to identify anywhere on each individual spectrum rather than electing one option over the other. For example, a person whose sex assigned at birth is male, but transitions to be a transgender woman, does not automatically mean she is attracted to men, will have sex with men, or expresses her gender in a feminine manner. It’s very much possible that this woman can have a mix of feminine and/or masculine gender expression and physically attracted to men, but is emotionally and intimately attracted to women and women-identified folks. 

These concepts are not black and white, and it’s important to never assume someone’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or their physical and emotional preferences. 

Gender unicorn and Definitions

Trans Student Educational Resources, 2015. “The Gender Unicorn.”

Gender identity

How I identify

One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). For transgender people, their own internal sense of gender identity and their sex assigned at birth are not the same.

Sexually attracted to

Whom I am sexually attracted to

The group of people or genders to which a person can become sexually attracted to, if at all. 

Gender expression/ presentation

How I look and express myself. 

The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth.

Romantically/ emotionally attracted to

Whom I am romantically/emotionally attracted to. 

The group of people or genders to which a person can become romantically, emotionally, or spiritually attracted to, if at all. 

Sex assigned at Birth

The sex classification that I was assigned at birth.

The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, and chromosomes. This is usually decided at birth or in utero and is usually based on genitalia. 

Examples of Genders: We included “other genders” to indicate the many genders that other people might identify as, express themselves as, and be attracted to. Examples of these genders include: Agender, Bigender, Genderfluid, 


Our holistic, whole person view takes into consideration the multiple complexities of structural, systemic, and societal issues that affect folks from the LGBTQIA+ community. The following is a list of just some of the current issues that folks face in today’s climate.

Issues and concerns

  • Aging 
  • Health disparities
  • HIV/AIDS and STDs
  • Affirming medical care
  • Culturally competent mental health care
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Coming out and/or being “outed”
  • Unsupportive friends and/or family 
  • Homelessness
  • Accessibility to employment, housing, religious, and medical/family/social services
  • Parenting and family formation
  • Social alienation
  • Double alienation (if holding 2 or more marginalized identities)
  • Bullying
  • Suppression of self-identity; denial
  • Homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, etc.
  • Internalized homophobia, transphobia, biphobia; body dysmorphia; self-hate
  • Hate crimes and hate speech/rhetoric
  • Domestic and sexual violence

Mental health

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Substance use
  • Suicide
  • Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Navigating relationships and sex

Guide for LgBTQ Youth

This guide from HRC and the Child Mind Institute offers specific tips for LGBTQ youth about the importance of mental health, how to help a friend struggling with mental health issues, and how to find an LGBTQ-affirmative therapist.

Law, Policy, and Human Rights

Discriminatory laws and policies still exist in multiple states in the U.S. The Human Rights Campaign offers a virtual map of all of 50 states’ up-to-date laws and policies affecting LGBTQIA+ people, including but not limited to LGBTQIA+ parenting, relationships, youth, and transgender rights. To access this map, please visit and you can select an individual state, or select laws and policies by issue. The issues presented in this map are for:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations
  • Anti-Conversion Therapy
  • School Anti-Bullying
  • Education
  • Transgender Healthcare
  • Gender Marker Updates on Identification Documents
  • Hate Crimes
  • Discrimination in Child Welfare Services
  • Unsupportive family
  • Domestic and sexual violence


Tips if you decide to come out: questions to ask yourself

Pride Month is a time to acknowledge, respect, and honor the lives and experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community. In recent years, Pride Month has become a time of celebration for the community, however it’s important to not overlook those who still unsure of their identity. The Q in LGBTQIA+ can stand for “queer”, but it can also stand for “questioning” for folks who are still trying to make sense of and understand their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Here are some questions to consider if you identify (or don’t) with the term “questioning” and are wanting to “come out” to the people around you:

  • How long have you been sure about your sexual orientation?
  • Are you comfortable with your sexuality?
  • Do you have support?
  • Are you knowledgeable about queer issues?
  • What’s the emotional climate at home?
  • Can you be patient? 
  • Do you have resources?
  • Are you financially dependent on your parents/people you’ll be coming out to?
  • What’s your general relationship with the person/people you’re coming out to?
  • What’s their moral societal view?
  • Is this your decision?
Tips for Coping at Home with Family and Surrounding Environment 
  • Remember that you’re still you! – Take part in activities and let family/friends know you are the same person as before; focus on common interests.
  • Coming out – Remember “coming out” is a continual process, you may need to “come out” multiple times with various people and situations.
  • Set limitations and boundaries – Set clear expectations for how one should interact with you. If communication or situations become too intense, excuse yourself and seek support.
  • Pronoun slips – If you are transgender or gender non-conforming, be gentle with family’s pronoun “slips” and let them know you know how difficult it is.
Tips for Self-Care
  • Take care of your body and incorporate healthy eating, drinking, exercising, and sleeping habits into your routine. Your physical health has direct implications on your mental and emotional health!
  • Arrange time with supportive friends and family members. Oftentimes, folks have a “chosen family” which become their main source of support and connection, and can fulfill many missing gaps not received by their immediate family and friends.
  • Visit local, safe LGBTQIA+ spaces – bookstores, coffee shops, bars, Pride events, etc. 
  • Don’t wait for your family’s change attitude and approval before you give it to yourself. Others may need time to acknowledge and accept your identity but recognize that it may have taken some time for you to come to terms with yourself, and others may need that time as well, if not more. Remember to affirm yourself!
  • Inform yourself of specific issues relating to the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the ways to feel connected to others is to educate ourselves on current issues going on in the community. An informed perspective can lead to an empathy and understanding.


Local resources

Affinity Community Services


AIDS Foundation of Chicago


Association of Latino/ as Motivating Action (ALMA)

Brave Space Alliance

(872) 333-5199

Broadway Youth Center – Howard Brown Health 


Center on Halsted

(773) 472-6469

Chicago House

(773) 2485200

Chicago Women’s Health Center

(773) 935-6126

Equality Illinois 

(773) 477-7173

Howard Brown Health

(773) 388-1600

National resources

American Psychological Association

10 Considerations for Finding a Gender Competent Therapist for Your Child

Human Rights Campaign 

(800) 777-4723

LGBT National Health Center

LGBT National Hotline: (888) 843-4564

LGBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-77434

LGBT National Senior Hotline: (888) 234-7243

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging


(202) 467-8180

SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders

SAGE National LGBT Elder Hotline: (877) 360-LGBT


Hotline: (877) 565-8860


The Trevor Project

TrevorLifeline for crisis: (866) 488-7386

This month’s blog was written by Miguel Herrera, MEd, LPC, NCC

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