“But Pride should be all year round…” OK, prove it.
12 Jun 2023
For many years now, since the UK adopted the idea from the US, June has marked Pride Month for much of the world. Globally there are plenty of Pride festivals, parades and parties that happen outside of June and in the UK you can dance your weekends away throughout the entire summer bouncing from one city to the next in a rainbow haze if you fancy it.
But June acts as a waymarker in the year and a point in time for all of us to take stock of what life is like for LGBTQ+ people, how we can celebrate the group and also what everyone collectively can do to make things better. For the past couple of years though, an idea has started to circulate that confining LGBTQ+ Pride to June is limiting and means we don’t celebrate our Pride the rest of the year.
On the surface it’s a lovely sentiment and actually it’s something that Harvard cited in 2021 when we purposefully pushed out the airing of our Pride episode of the Heard@Harvard podcast in July to make the point that Pride should be year round. But don’t worry, we still did lots during Pride month to ensure we marked the occasion too.
And that’s the point here. All too often I’ve heard businesses hastily adopt the “Pride all year” stance as a veiled excuse to deprioritise LGBTQ+ awareness raising activity that would usually fall into June, possibly because they’re not adequately prepared for a June rollout.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s valid to believe that Pride should be year-round – but businesses should then make sure to show up consistently and demonstrably, with clear goals and action plans to support the LGBTQ+ community month in, month out. It’s not evident at all that this is happening.
So, forgive me if it’s old fashioned but I still believe it’s vital that Pride Month still be marked in June and that businesses in particular have a very real responsibility to do so.
In a year where previously progressive countries like the US are actively rowing back rights for LGBTQ+ people at an alarming rate and where public attitudes globally are shifting to demonise corners of our community – particularly our trans and non-binary siblings – the lack of focus and action is just not good enough.
There are many worrying developments I could point to, but one of the most stark for the UK is that we have slipped from #1 to #17 in the ILGA’s ranking of the most LGBT friendly countries in Europe. This is based on our legal and policy stance which, although a public affairs issue on the face of it, is fundamentally something that can shift with the support of businesses.
In this climate it is imperative organisations show up for LGBTQ+ people and be responsible corporate citizens that take action for the community’s welfare. Internally that means senior leadership engaging with LGBTQ+ staff to understand their needs and concerns, then taking action to create a safe and secure workplace free of prejudice, where inclusivity and accountability is the norm in all interactions. Externally, businesses should be using their sizeable influence to shout from the rooftops on behalf of the community, campaign for the rights of the few to benefit the many and demonstrate with tangible evidence that they are an inclusive employer so that others follow suit.
Rainbow-washing is something no one needs, but active allyship that drives change, peppered with some solidarity flags in the right places – we’ll take that all day long!
The undeniably scary situation the LGBTQ+ community is finding itself in right now won’t resolve itself unless the powerful forces in our society, including businesses, keep showing up at the moments that matter, fight for the rights of the whole community and remind everyone that we are here, we’re queer (and trans) and not going anywhere.
That’s what Pride month is about and I hope that as long as I live, we don’t forget that.
To mark Pride Month in June 2023, Harvard and its sister agencies within VCCP Business will be joining forces to mark the occasion in a number of ways:
- We will be launching a trans inclusion policy to support our trans colleagues and their line managers in having inclusive conversations
- Book club! The Harvard and Teamspirit book clubs will be reading With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
- Intersectional Movie Night! We’ll be watching Everything Everywhere All At Once + want to give people an opportunity to meet their LGBTQ+, neurodiversity and race & ethnicity network reps
- Crafts! We will be doing two pronoun badge-making and a zine-making workshops in conjunction with our friends at VCCP and TS. The zine will look at what it means to feel safe and supported at work.
- Allies lunch! We’ll be hosting a lunch for proud parents/family of LGBTQ+ people in the Teamspirit kitchen
- Comedy! We’re going to the brand new Queer Comedy Club in Archway so an opportunity to support some local queer artists in London
- Drinks! LGBTQ+ only drinks social at the Greencoat Boy pub