June marks the annual period of Gay Pride observations around the world. It’s a month of love and togetherness – when both gay and straight men and women come together to celebrate advances made while working hard to advance the challenges that still lie ahead.
Yet, this June feels awfully different. It feels more urgent and a bit less celebratory. And perhaps this June, Pride matters even more.
As a company which takes pride in how we naturally bring together diverse perspectives and people from diverse backgrounds as the right course of business, we asked some of our colleagues a simple question. Why does Gay Pride matter to you and why should it matter to others?
My answer started with a definition. One definition of pride I like is a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people. I also like when pride is characterized as being about dignity and merit. For me, being proud is the ability to confidently represent my true self and the contributions I make to my workplace and to the communities I consider home.
Living with pride is perhaps the antithesis of living in fear. I certainly know what it’s like to live and show up fearfully because I did it for many years. At work, I used to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. Just writing those last seven words makes me realize how much I missed out on as a consequence.
Pride matters more this year because we need to fix attitudes, laws and cowardice against people who are gay, lesbian or transgender.
Pride matters this year more than ever before because while it seems like we are exercising our responsibilities as citizens, we need to ensure that every man, woman and child is legally entitled to the full benefits of citizenship – wherever they live.
Pride matters more this year because it is about true equality. It is about true inclusion. It is about full contribution. And it is about being able to fully experience the good that life brings every day, and to fully experience each day without fear, nervousness or trepidation about who we are.
Pride matters to me most because I am outraged. Outraged that discrimination and crimes are increasingly committed against people because of love and identity.
During the last year, it feels like the progress we have made has been stunted, if not reversed. We’re seeing legislation sponsored or proposed that would curtail basic human rights. Government leaders openly speak out against the legitimacy of same-sex marriage (or as I like to call it, marriage). Protections are being taken away from vulnerable school children and young adults. Around the world, we’ve seen an increase in the number of hate crimes. We’ve even seen a country ban a children’s movie because it simply included a gay supporting character. And we watch in horror as gays are being vilified in Chechnya.
The good news is that more businesses are standing up more and with louder voices. They are fighting hate legislation by withholding resources and presence. They have taken bold steps to positively promote same-sex marriage and parenting in advertising. And they are developing products which celebrate who we are.
But is it enough?
Many businesses still consider the “gay issue” a bit “tricky” or something to be handled “delicately.” It need not be.
When it comes to Pride, my hopes for businesses are simple:
- Show up with Pride all year; ask yourselves how are you showing support beyond June, during the other 11 months of the year.
- Portray more of our life moments in your marketing; you’ve embraced marriage and kids, how about coming out, how about break-ups, how about aging?
- Break out of the stereotypes; remember that we come in all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds. We may have a broad community, but we’re members of all communities.
- Be role models; we need more senior executives who are out. We need to see more advances by gay men and women in board rooms and C-suites.
- Show more outrage; we need your help in fighting those who fight us in all the communities in which you do business.
Pride matters to gay, transgender, queer and straight people alike. How will you personally and professionally use your voice and action to show how much it does?