Pride Month in a Year of Loathing: Allies Needed

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Is this the year that Pride Month becomes an afterthought? I hope not: We all need Pride now more than ever. And we need it year-round, not just in one performative month when some people and organizations decide to pay attention.

But the question is valid. The state of Pride in 2024 is grim:

Companies and organizations are reportedly planning to be less engaged and less vocal in celebrating and embracing Pride this year. (And they have already been less engaged throughout the year.)
The U.S. Government is warning LGBTQ people about the potential for attacks overseas and counseling caution for travelers planning trips.
The ACLU is “tracking 515 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S.
DEI programs are being dismantled at universities and in state governments.
LGBTQ+ employees are looking to their employers to protect them, particularly in places where state governments are making it clear that we are not entitled to equality under the law.

So, is this the year Pride becomes another “moment” we patronize, minimize or downright ignore amid a sea of urgent threats and concerns (not to mention a national election looming over every conversation)? For many in the LGBTQ+ community, this feels like a year of loathing instead of a celebration of everyone’s rights being fully protected and respected. In 2024, whither Pride?

First, let’s remember that Pride started as a protest. Pride is about standing up for who we are and who we love. It’s about speaking out for our equality and that of every other marginalized community. It’s about shouting down the haters who would deny our humanity.

In 2024, Pride is more relevant than ever. For everyone. But those of us who are LGBTQ+ need help from others. We need our friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, business leaders and elected officials to understand and acknowledge that for all the progress we’ve made, we have miles and miles to go. And the road is getting bumpier and more dangerous. We need allies who understand that Pride is for everyone and who act accordingly.

So, what does allyship look like?

At the individual level, it looks like your straight colleague Ted, who marches in a Pride parade with his LGBTQ+ friends this year and tells everyone about how much fun he had and what it meant to him. It sounds like your straight neighbor Maria, who participates in a Q Trust webinar on candidates supporting our community and donates to one of them. And it acts like your straight neighbor Fran who puts a rainbow flag up on their house and volunteers to help at the local LGBTQ+ center.

At the community level, it looks like your neighborhood straight small business owner who employs several LGBTQ+ people in their business and offers them equal pay and access to opportunity with their straight counterparts. It sounds like your straight city councilperson who introduces legislation to toughen penalties on people convicted of hate crimes and speaks out against the murders of transgender people. And it acts like your straight school principal who blocks book banning in their school library and hosts a local drag queen for Story Hour.

At the corporate level, it looks like the insurance company that offers equal benefits and access to promotions to every employee and that doesn’t just have an LGBTQ ERG, but actually listens to and acts on its recommendations.

It sounds like the consumer brand that uses its voice to advocate for equality and demonstrates what that means with its corporate donation strategy. And it acts like the financial institution that provides resources and support for its employees when they transition and offers to help other companies understand what policies and practices are best to make sure that transgender employees feel as welcomed and engaged as every other employee.

And at the national level, it looks like the straight governor of a state who asks the state legislature to pass pro-DEI legislation and advocates for its passage. It sounds like the straight celebrity who uses their platform not to just to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality, but to ask their fans to vote accordingly. And it acts like the straight U.S. senator who introduces the Equality Act and builds coalitions with others in Congress to get it passed.

It does not look like our friends and family voting for anti-LGBTQ+ politicians who would deny LGBTQ people basic rights and equality. It does not sound like corporate spokespersons celebrating Pride and then defending the tens of thousands of dollars in donations their company has made to anti-gay politicians. And it does not act like the gay-friendly consumer brand that waves a Pride flag in June while running away from their record of advocacy in every other month of the year.

Yes, we’re all stressed. Yes, we’re all anxious about the economy or the election or the environment (or all three). Celebrating Pride this month and all year long won’t change that overnight. But it can change the trajectory of the rest of the year. In this year of loathing, it can make us feel better and more connected with one another.

As Maya Angelou taught us: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Let’s make more people feel better by saying and doing the right things this Pride Month and all year long.

Ben Finzel is president of RENEWPR in Washington, D.C, an NGLCC-certified LGBT Business Enterprise. In 2003, he co-founded FH Out Front, the first global LGBTQ communications practice at an international PR firm (FleishmanHillard). In 2019, he co-founded The Change Agencies, the national network of multicultural and LGBTQ-owned and operated PR firms. He was inducted into the PRSA National Capital Chapter Hall of Fame in 2021 and was chair of the 2024 PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference.

[Image credit: dennis]

The post Pride Month in a Year of Loathing: Allies Needed first appeared on PRsay.

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