Pride this year has been very different, but then so have most things since COVID-19.
There won’t be people marching in their thousands or the outdoor celebrations of diversity and togetherness that Pride has become known for. That doesn’t mean that we should just forget about Pride this year. Quite the opposite. One thing that the lockdown has shown us is that we can do so much from home. This year, that includes celebrating Pride.
Being in lockdown has given us all time to reflect. Last week I was invited by the Glass Network to take part in their online #PrideInside campaign. I was asked three questions: (1) what does Pride mean to you; (2) what are you most proud of; and (3) what about next year’s Pride are you looking forward to?
What does Pride mean to me?
Well, it was and remains a protest (and we should always remember that), but over the years has also become much more of a celebration. It’s about recognising and celebrating the whole of the LGBT+ community; and recognising and celebrating the differences that exists within that community. My experiences as a gay male will be different from a bi woman or a trans man or a non-binary person. During Pride and at all times, it’s very important that we stand together – we can and should be allies to others within our own community. When we think about allies we often think about non-LGBT+ people being allies to the LGBT+ community, and that’s crucial, but as a gay male I should also be an ally to bi people, trans people, and so on. For me, Pride means celebrating the progress that’s been made and recognising the progress that has yet to be achieved. It means visibility, reminding the world that LGBT+ people exist and that we have much to contribute.
I think for this year’s Pride, during this period of lockdown and social distancing, Pride is about keeping in touch. LGBT+ people’s homes are not necessarily always a safe space for them, and we must not lose sight of that. Workplaces, businesses and organisations should use this time to ensure that people know how and where they can access support and should keep channels of communication open.
What am I most proud of?
Many things. I am proud of the LGBT+ community, our role models and allies. I am proud when I see parents and their children getting involved (whether LGBT+ or not). I am proud of all the times the LGBT+ community has stood together with others, particularly other minorities, whether that be the Black Lives Matter movement today or the miners in the 1980s (and if you haven’t seen the movie Pride I would highly recommend it).
I’m proud of all the hard work that so many are doing to progress LGBT+ diversity and inclusion (and diversity and inclusion more generally). There are so many examples of that. In the legal sector, the Law Society of Scotland and the Glass Network are doing great work. We now have our first LGBT+ President of the Law Society of Scotland – that certainly makes me proud. In schools, the work being done by Time for Inclusive Education (the TIE campaign) will make a real difference to LGBT+ young people. A volunteer charity and grass roots organisation, their work resulted in the Scottish Government committing to implement LGBT+ inclusive education in the Scottish curriculum. Businesses too are doing more than ever to promote LGBT+ diversity and inclusion and should be supported and encouraged to keep doing more. There are many rainbow flags on corporate logos on social media this month, for example. That’s to be commended, but of course businesses and organisations should also be ensuring that they are walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.
There is much to celebrate and be proud of, but we have further to go. We must ensure that we continue to progress diversity and inclusion for all, in our workplaces, communities and beyond.
What about next year’s Pride am I most looking forward to?
I hope that Pride organisers reflect on some of the benefits of a virtual Pride. Not everyone can go to outdoor Pride events, for various reasons such as travel or having other commitments. Perhaps next year’s celebration could involve a mix of the usual tried and tested outdoor events but with some online and virtual events too. That way we reach and involve more people, which is ultimately what it’s all about.
We are living in very uncertain times. When we get LGBT+ diversity and inclusion right, it benefits everyone, not just LGBT+ people. The sooner that is recognised and embraced by all, the better.
For me, visibility, role models and allies are essential to promoting an LGBT+ inclusive culture, whether that be in the workplace or the community. In workplaces, that’s visibility (of role models and allies) at all levels of the organisation. That may be more difficult during #PrideInside but that’s no excuse for not recognising and celebrating Pride. We can be just as visible during this time and it has arguably never been more important to be there for and support our LGBT+ friends and colleagues. And don’t worry, I’m sure that Pride will be back bigger and better next year.
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