To my fellow members of the LGBTQ community: If you are tired of rainbow capitalism that profits off our dollars but fails to fight for our well-being, I hear you. And if you decide not to participate in corporate-sponsored Pride events this year, you have my whole-hearted support to celebrate the gift that is queerness in whatever way feels most authentic to you.
But to those wondering if Pride is still needed, I argue absolutely yes. At its best, Pride month honors the LGBTQ members who risked their lives, lost their lives, and endured a lifetime of suffering in the hopes that one day their community would be treated with the dignity and respect every human deserves. Pride is a call to action; it narrows the collective attention on the most pressing needs of the LGBTQ community and provides a resurgence of determination to fight for a better tomorrow. Pride is a time for radical queer joy, an opportunity to be encompassed by community members and allies so that, for even a moment, we can take a breath from the perpetual violence and breathe in a wave of hope, relief, and celebration.
Let me be clear, organizations cannot neatly package the LGBTQ community, or any historically marginalized group, into a month (Or week! Or day!) to absolve centuries of oppression and ongoing systemic and interpersonal inequity. If that’s your goal, I am happy to (figuratively) shatter your rainbow tinted glasses and tell you that’s not how social justice works. This a fight to uproot deeply held beliefs and rethink complex systems designed to keep white, cis, male, abled bodies in power. Celebrations don’t change that because it’s not their purpose. We can both celebrate the LGBTQ community and prioritize ongoing accountability necessary to drive lasting change.
To corporate leaders who falsely believe that 30 days of concentrated attention on the LGBTQ community absolves you of ongoing accountability to create spaces of belonging, safety, support, and opportunity for your LGBTQ employees, I challenge you to be better.
As a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant at The Courage Collective, we know DEI is inextricable from every component of the employee journey, and there is work to be done. When June comes to a close, and the Pride events you’ve diligently planned have all come and gone, continue to dig into your systems and processes with an inclusive lens. Provide spaces for LGBTQ employees to share their experiences, both positive and negative, so that you can create psychological safety enforced by everyday actions and equitable processes designed with the LGBTQ workforce in mind. I hope this month’s festivities revitalize your commitment to fight for us beyond June 30. We are exhausted and need you now more than ever. As you support and walk alongside us on this journey, continue to center our voices and experiences.
To the trans community, of which I am proud to be a part, every day, our very being is leveraged as a political pawn used to threaten our safety and right to exist. To Black Trans women and Black trans femmes, who suffer anti-trans violence at disproportionate rates, I recognize the privilege my whiteness affords me, and I double down on my commitment to fight for your safety, respect, and humanity. I see you, and I love you. I hope this month is an opportunity to prioritize your needs and celebrate your beautiful existence in a way that is most beneficial to you. To the queer and trans youth, who are processing the whiplash of higher representation amid targeted attacks, your radical authenticity and demand for justice inspire awe in me and reinvigorate my soul. Thank you, and I’m sorry the world can be so cruel. You are worthy of love, self-confidence, and respect. You deserve Pride.
Sunday Helmerich is a consultant at The Courage Collective. They are a people connector who thrives on helping organizations make necessary changes to shape their workplaces into healthier, more inclusive environments for all.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.