As June comes to a close, so do the Pride Month festivities around the world. In the last two years, celebrations for Pride Month were almost non-existent in-person, especially at the height of the pandemic. Though still looming as of this writing, much of the world has been able to celebrate different occasions in-person and with others once more. This includes the different Pride Month celebrations that we often associate June with. From parades, live performances, celebrations, memorials and even political protests, there was an uptick of these celebrations once more. No matter how it was celebrated, the message of Pride Month stayed the same. Whether at home or in public, the LGBTQ community should be treated with respect and afforded the same rights.
Pride Month will always be about uplifting the LGBTQ community and their voices. For others, it’s a celebration of queer culture and learning to be a better ally in support of their rights. It’s important to remember, therefore, that this allyship does not – and should not – end after June. People do not get to simply “switch off” their support after Pride Month. Nor should they “switch it on” when it is mostly convenient for them. It has to go beyond adorning your social media with rainbows or relevant hashtags. By digging deeper from the surface level, one can see why Pride is important to so many.
A Brief History of Pride
Let’s take a quick trip back in time. One of the key reasons Pride Month is celebrated in June is the Stonewall Riots that started on June 28, 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a gay-friendly bar that was raided by the police While there have been similar protests in the past, many consider Stonewall to be the tipping point for the LGBTQ community in their quest for equal rights and social awareness. As a result, June has always been called Pride Month as a way of commemorating the events of Stonewall.
In that time, other countries have celebrated Pride Month in their own way. For instance, in June 1994, the Philippines held what was – at the time – Asia’s first ever Pride march to commemorate Stonewall’s 25th anniversary. In South America, Brazil holds the world’s biggest Pride parade attended by millions of people each year. Today, several groups around the world continue to advocate for gay rights in their countries amidst pushback and even tensions with their own governments.
Why We Celebrate Pride
From the word itself, Pride month is about being proud of who you are without fear of discrimination or marginalization. That is why communities continue to make efforts in creating all-inclusive spaces where people can be who they are. Offices – or corporate settings – is one of the settings that need to be more visible with their support of the community. These are done through initiatives, learning programs, or even small events marking the importance of Pride Month. In effect, it also helps promote office culture that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. For instance, here at Diversify, Pride Month is an important time for us and our office huddles have always reflected this. This past June, we celebrated Pride Month both in-person and online in an event called Generation Hue.
Pride Month also means learning to be a better ally to the LGBTQ community. Being aware of the issues the community faces is one way this can happen. Lending your voice of support and knowing when to let the community speak for themselves is something that non-LGBTQ individuals need to learn. Educating yourself on the history of Pride Month allows you to gain a deeper understanding of why the community consistently asks for equality. You might also learn some interesting facts along the way. For instance, did you know that each color in the Pride flag has a meaning behind them? Volunteering for your local LGBTQ organization is also a great way to learn from the community.
Celebrating Beyond Pride Month
As noted earlier, the messages and sincerity shown during Pride Month are all great ways to support the community. However, as Diversify’s Executive Director Angela Vidler said during our huddles, these should not be amplified just for the entire month of June. It’s wonderful to be loud and proud of your support, but true allyship goes beyond Pride Month. It is something that you should truly believe in, not just when it’s convenient to show other people. This, as Angela says, is what diversity should be about.
Of course, no one is asking you to be out on the streets every day or fly the Pride flag at all times. Rather, you can help in your own way by creating a space where the community can be uplifted and celebrated without discrimination. Knowing also when to let the community discuss issues close to them speaks volumes of your understanding. Some of the things they talk about may even be difficult to hear. But it is important in learning why these issues exist and why their fight for equality continues. The first step is often the hardest, but it is also the most important one.