June is LGBTQ Pride month, intended to be both a celebration of the community and a continued protest for equality and acceptance. But this year feels different, with hundreds of pieces of anti-trans legislation, corporate controversies and violence against the community and their advocates. This backslide is encapsulated by the Human Rights Campaign issuing a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time.
Change Research surveyed 3,197 registered voters nationwide May 22-31, 2023, including 442 respondents from the LGBTQ community, 650 self-identified LGBTQ allies, and 694 self-identified non-allies (see methodological definitions below) to gauge public opinion on this year’s Pride celebrations.
Pride events are controversial among voters
Voters are divided in whether they believe Pride events do (38%) or do not (41%) make society more accepting of LGBTQ people. About two-thirds of the LGBTQ community members (67%) and allies (66%) say these events make society more accepting, while 75% of non-allies, in contrast, believe these events do not make society more accepting.
While the majority of LGBTQ individuals agree it’s a good thing for broader acceptance, many consider Pride events as defiance of society, rather than a society joining them in celebration.
In response the question, “What does Pride mean to you?”, LGBTQ respondents mentioned:
“The freedom to be my authentic self in spite of potential backlash from bigoted society.” Lesbian, Women, 65+
“IT IS A PROTEST!!!” Bisexual, Women, 35 to 49
“Pride is a celebration of queerness and a protest against our unfair treatment/discrimination” Transgender and Bisexual, Man, 18 to 34
“Pride is a defiance of society’s desire to make us feel ashamed of who we are and to force us to hide in the closet.” Transgender and Bisexual, Other, 18 to 34
“Being myself despite the fact that there are people who would hate me simply because I am queer.” Transgender and Bisexual, Man, 18 to 34
Many Americans are unsure about attending Pride events in June 2023
Among members of the LGBTQ community, 64% say they have attended Pride events at least once previously. This year, 44% of the LGBTQ community plan to attend an event, and 30% are not sure. Approximately 1 in 3 allies plan to attend a Pride event this year.
Voters signal a hesitancy to attend, some calling out directly the danger it posed this year given the backlash against Pride and the LGBTQ community.
One voter, who has attended events in the past, and doesn’t plan to this year, wrote, “Not going to Pride events because people hate LGBTQ+ and want [to] shoot participants.”
Conversely, there is a sentiment that Pride offers escapism from everyday harm. One voter wrote, “It’s just a month where LGBTQIA+ people get to pretend that it’s safe for them to be themselves.”
Despite the uncertainty, Pride remains an opportunity for celebration
Despite the concern and controversy, there remains some excitement in the face of the onslaught of legislation. Even among the transgender community, Pride remains an important part of self-expression and hopes to redefine the future.
“Pride means celebrating our shared history together and how far we’ve come, and the promise of a future to be lived in unity, stronger together.” – Transgender, Other, 18 to 34
“Pride means to embrace who you are, even if others try to make you feel like something is wrong with you.” – Bisexual, Woman, 18 to 34
“Pride is not hiding my identity. Pride is being free to let the world know who I am, so a kid who feels the same way but doesn’t have the words for it can learn.” – Transgender, Woman, 18 to 34
“Recognizing the oppression, second class citizenry forced upon others in the past/today, and being able to not be afraid to be different. Being able to have the same rights as a heterosexual couple to pursue love, family, and not fear violence or job loss.” – Gay, Man, 35 to 49
Using its Dynamic Online Sampling Engine to obtain a sample reflective of registered voters in the U.S., Change Research polled 3,197 people nationwide from May 22-31, 2023. The margin of error is 2.0%. Post-stratification was performed on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, and 2020 presidential vote. Weighting parameters were based on the voter file.
LGBTQ respondents (14% of the sample of registered voters) are defined as those who identified in the survey as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Allies (20% of the sample) are those respondents who did not identify as any of these but said “I consider myself to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.” Non-allies (22% of the sample) are those who did not identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender, do not have friends or family who are and do not identify as an ally to the LGBTQ community. The remaining 44% of voters have friends or family who are LGBTQ but they did not indicate that they identify as an ally.