As LGBTQ+ Pride kicks off across parts of the globe, I’ve been reflecting on the themes of identity, struggle, and celebration as LGBTQ+ Pride. We see the challenges and triumphs across our diverse communities in so many contexts. With this in mind, I ask what it means for us as individuals and as a company to “celebrate pride?”
Transgender youth and their families continue to be under attack across the United States, with record legislation targeting their health and safety. LGBTQ+ youth in schools are also under attack with “Don’t Say Gay” bills introduced in numerous parts of the world (the U.S. and Hungary top the list in the amount of legislation).
Every 20 hours, an LGBTQ+ person is brutally murdered because of LGBTQ-phobia in Brazil, leading to the fall in the average life expectancy of trans people from 75 years of age (average life expectancy in Brazil) to 35 years, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Racist attacks are globally rampant. Murders in a Black community in Buffalo and a fatal shooting at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods recently happened days apart from each other. Access to safe abortion in the U.S. is also under attack. These instances shed light that our most marginalized communities remain at risk. Queer people of color and transgender and non-binary individuals know how complicated any “LGBTQ+ inclusive” space can be.
For years, there’s been tension about who is represented by larger efforts for equality and what equality looks like. This is why allyship is so vital in our efforts.
Understanding how the intersection of identities impacts how people show up, where they feel a sense of belonging, and what true inclusion looks like are vital to being an ally.
So to my non-LGBTQ+ friends, I ask that you use June to show up and proactively educate yourself. Find ways to bring awareness and joy to those members of the community in your workplaces and neighborhoods.
For those members of the LGBTQ+ community who are cisgender, white, able-bodied, or have identities that benefit from systemic privilege, make space and invite in those members of the community who may not have the same agency and access. We must be allies to all—including ourselves—for allyship to work.
I conclude with reflections on some bright spots across the globe as we recognize and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community: Most countries (54%) in the world have some sort of Pride celebration throughout the year, with 8 new countries adding pride celebrations in the last couple of years. Colombia remains a leader in Latin America in recent legislation and policies to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. California, Colorado, and Illinois (where ActiveCampaign has a hub) top the list of U.S. states in 2022 with the strongest protections for LGBTQ+ people. And Sydney, Australia, will get its first LGBTQ+ pride museum, tracing the queer storyline from First Nations to today in time for WorldPride next year.
We also see diverse LGBTQ+ representation in the media at never-before-seen levels. Deeper conversations are happening about intersectionality, too. This critical realization that LGBTQ+ voices include immense gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, and diverse body sizes, disabilities, and family structures is a powerful testament that progress towards inclusion can be possible.
The work of inclusion requires continual challenging and championing for change. It means asking hard questions and diligently keeping conversations progressing. It also means challenging ourselves to do better, especially if we don’t “get it right” the first time.
At ActiveCampaign, we’re working to improve our healthcare benefits for transgender and nonbinary employees after we learned many members of the community have had an inequitable experience. While not resolved fully, we are moving in a direction that prioritizes equity and inclusion. Our ActivePride ERG is partnering with other ERG communities to ensure pride festivities and learning moments are intersectional (including a drag queen family storytime and healing spaces for LGBTQ+ communities of color).
Dismantling the deeply rooted pillars of injustice is not an overnight fix. So, let’s use June to both celebrate our rich and diverse community and remain diligent in addressing root inequalities that prevent our LGBTQ+ friends, family, and colleagues from being their authentic selves.