Dotdigital blog

Pride 2021: why being loud and proud still matters

Pride month is a pivotal time of year not just for the LGBTQIA+ community, but for everyone that experiences hate and prejudice because of who they are.
At dotdigital we champion people’s authenticity. As a steadfast advocate of Pride and supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or ally), we want all our employees to be themselves. We celebrate the uniqueness of every single team member – from marketing to sales and support, California to New Zealand. Our mission has always been to create an inclusive working environment for people to show their true colors. Don’t hold anything back. You do you. While this is the case at dotdigital, it’s not the case at every company or in wider society – in the industries and countries we operate, and further beyond. Pride is the vehicle to change this. We want to make a statement about the importance of Pride month and the power it has to bring people together to support one another and those in need. But first, here’s a sneak peek at what a few of us got up to the other night…

Pride drag bingo!

In keeping with the Pride celebrations this year dotDEI (diversity, equality, inclusion) organized drag bingo with the one and only Ginger. Aside from a few bingo virgins (not naming names!), it was a super-successful night thanks to Ginger’s fabulously camp outbursts and hilarious jokes. The Gemma Collins GIFs went down a treat, as did Ginger’s rendition of Theresa May’s infamous confession about running through fields of wheat. Bet that’s not the naughtiest thing Ginger’s ever done. We loved you, sweetie, darling! Congratulations to all the winners – we’re not jealous about your prize (drag aerobics?!) at all.

Amie Lane, Head of Partner Marketing

Every year throughout June there are Pride festivals and events across the world. These celebrations mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which began outside the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, in New York City in late June 1969 after years and years of repression. Why pride is so important…? Data published by the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA World) shows there are many countries throughout the world that continue to criminalize and oppress LGBTQIA+ people; including 49 countries which punish homosexual acts with imprisonment, plus 11 countries that use the death penalty against LGBTQIA+ people. Here in the UK and across Europe, we have seen huge movements in legal and social reforms. From decriminalization of homosexuality in the late 1960s towards almost full legal equality – with reforms including gender recognition, civil partnerships, equal marriage, anti-discrimination and equality laws and protections. BUT there is still much work to be done in terms of social reform. Violent crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are on the increase. Some facts to sit with….
  • Stonewall estimates over 80% of hate crimes and hate incidents against LGBTQIA+ people go unreported.
  • Many same-sex partners are afraid to show affection, to even hold each other’s hands in public, fearing some sort of attack.
  • LGBTQIA+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers – predominantly from some form of bullying.
  • LGBTQIA+ students are three times as likely as non-LGBTQIA+ students to say that they do not feel safe at school.
  • Studies have shown that 90% of LGBTQIA+ students have been harassed or assaulted during the past year.
The LGBTQIA+ community is a world of people who are often rejected and attacked for being who they are, expressing themselves in ways that feel right, and loving who they love. Pride events are about visibility and creating a sense of belonging for people who may not have it. Pride is about giving hope to people who may feel that life will never get better. Pride is a place of safety for many people. Pride is a place where we as heterosexual people can stand in support with the LGBTQIA+ community – our friends and family. Pride is a visual image of hope for everyone. It’s us all collectively shouting loud ‘You can love WHOEVER you want to love’

Chris Cano, Content Team Lead

Pride is a guiding light to self-discovery.   Another Pride month has come and gone, and with it the hope that the world has made at least an iota of progress. The mission is a simple one: more equality and tolerance for all. That’s regardless of sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or race and ethnicity. Pride is a momentum, a full cycle of understanding and accepting oneself and others. Pride is love.   Pride exists for the very reason that there is still so much work to do. We live in a world of conflict, where one belief clashes with another. This often creates an environment of hostility and hate. The other day a 20-year-old man living in Egypt requested to follow me on Instagram. I’m not sure how he knew I was gay; perhaps my devilishly good looks and nonchalant insta poses gave it away. Anyway, he asked me if I was gay and I responded with a resolute, “yes”. He admitted to the same while I preempted, “that must be very hard in Egypt.” He responded, “It is very hard in Egypt. I want to go to London. All I want is to live freely with a man.” It broke my heart. This is just one poor soul, in an ocean of human suffering, who can’t be who they want to be. All because they live in this man-made world of conflict. Sure, we’ve come far since Stonewall. But not far enough. Pride gives people all around the world a voice. That voice spreads hope and solidarity and confidence among suppressed minorities. And it’s the bravery of those willing to stand up and be seen that epitomizes Pride. People in a less fortunate position can still believe in a louder, prouder future. A life where they can be themselves without shame. We’re talking about our LGBTQIA+ siblings living in Poland, Russia or the Middle East. The Jews of Harlem or North London, too often the victims of stereotype. The Muslims who call Sweden home, or the Arabs living in Israel, and yet feel unwelcome. Transgender people who face a torrent of hate and abuse in every single country. People of color who suffer from institutionalized racism imbedded in society. Pride is discovering who you are and being proud of the fact. Remember, you are not alone.

Leah Phillp, Human Resources Assistant

Pride is a reminder of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. For me Pride is ultimately a celebration of love. But it’s also a chance to remind society of how amazing it is to live life as your true self and be accepted for who you are; and how free life can be if we rid it of hate. Pride is a wonderful reminder of how far we have come in society; and also how privileged we are to live in a country where, for the majority, there is acceptance, love, and kindness towards the LGBTQIA+ community which includes over a million people in the UK alone. But Pride is also a time to think about those who are not as fortunate, and who live with inequality, fear, and hate on a daily basis. It’s a reminder that although some parts of the world have come so far in accepting people’s differences, there are so many who still fall victim to violent abuse, prison, or even the death penalty for expressing who they are. I used to be naïve that homophobia still existed here in the UK, however having a best friend who came out as lesbian has opened my eyes to the hatred that many still endure. For me, seeing her experiences has reminded me that Pride is not only about celebrating how far we have come, but also how far we still have to go, and by showing those who are homophobic and filled with hate that love is love and their hatred won’t do anything to stop that <3 Happy Pride!

Tanya Plaza, Head of Deliverability

Pride is about acceptance.  Pride to me is making sure those around me and in my life are loved, supported, and accepted 100% completely. How and what defines who we are should have zero impact on how others around us are treated or supported, by ourselves or in our presence. My actions and words need to back up the truth that humans should feel empowered to be authentic and treated with kindness. It’s really as simple as that. I am proud of my courageous friends and colleagues and to be working for a company that takes the time to celebrate people.

Ryan Raymond, Online Marketing Executive

Pride is about community, learning, and growth. To me, Pride month is a celebration of the whole community. It’s a time I celebrate with the friends that feel marginalized or stigmatized because of their sexuality. We all share an enthusiasm and excitement for the continued social growth and progression of, and acknowledgement for, the LGBTQ+ community and the spectrum of sexuality. Pride is also a time when I expect to have difficult and sometimes unsavory conversations with people that disregard the importance of Pride, or oppose it completely. These influences were commonplace for me growing up; in a same-sex school, on the rugby field, or at my small-town local boozer. But these are the conversations I’m now grateful to be a part of as they are the same conversations that helped to re-shape my perspective. Happy Pride month!

Anuska Jose, Technical Program Manager

Pride is about opening your eyes, heart, and mind.  Coming from a very religious background (one where my family was highly respected, held top positions – I myself held various responsibilities as well as being a role model for church members children), being a lesbian and part of the LGBTQIA+ community is not acceptable. So hiding in the closet for years meant protecting myself from those that would use my sexuality against me and attack my family. But seeing so many risk their lives to be who they are and celebrate their freedom showed me that I can do that too and have my voice heard. There are days that remind me of what I left behind and I will admit, at times I do miss it. But the strength of the community – partner, loyal friends, and family (who despite still being religious love me all the same), reminds me that being my true self is much more powerful than something I used to miss. I have lost those that I thought were friends and family along that way, but they’re the ones that showed me their true colors. And I love myself for who I am; I no longer hide and I’m in a much better place without them. I celebrate with all those from the LGBTQIA+ community – different shapes, sizes, colors, ages, you name it! – to stop the hate, bigotry, and violence. Open up your hearts, your eyes and minds as someone you know and love – whether it’s a friend, child, daughter/son, sister/brother, relative – needs you more than ever. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to love them unconditionally. You never know when it would be too late.

Frank Brooks, Head of Marketing EMEA

Pride is a safe space to be who you are – and proud of it. Another joyous Pride month is upon us – one that still doesn’t feel quite the same as years before COVID (remember that?). But Pride is needed now more than ever as we continue to work towards a fairer and kinder society. So why do we need Pride and why is it so important to me and my fellow LGBTQIA+ community? Well, Pride is an opportunity for us all as a community to come together, to celebrate our inclusion, and to also celebrate our differences. It should be that simple. There shouldn’t be questions. People should be able to be who they are, without discrimination and without question. The month of June feels like a safe space for you to be who you are and be proud of it – it’s also a great excuse to get better acquainted with the community, educate yourself, and learn from those who have had different experiences in how they have come to identify as LGBTQIA+. I have seen people use Pride as their support mechanism to come out and be free – having that support is so important for people to be accepted for who they are and be happy with themselves. It’s almost like a big hug; you will find likeminded and accepting people and they will be welcoming to you. I can’t say I don’t miss the parades, the laughter, and the glitter; and one day I know that will return, but until then, I know the LGBTQIA+ community remains bonded by a shared respect and mutual celebration of the right to be ‘different’ with no shame of who we all are.

Isabel Muñoz, Event Marketing Manager

Pride is love being accepted for being love. A time I look forward to every year is Pride month! As a proud ally with many friends and family members who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Pride has such a special place in my heart. I know I said this in my post for last year’s blog, but it still holds true to me: Pride, at its core, is ultimately the celebration of love being accepted for being love, and a community of beautiful humans being accepted for who they are. It’s a time for those within the community to spread their love and their light and for all of us to help represent and promote the equality and visibility that they deserve. During Pride we commemorate the iconic Marsha P. Johnson, who sparked the fight of the Stonewall riots. We also remember all those who continue to fight for equality and visibility in the LGBTQIA+ community. With ongoing violence today, issues of police brutality, alarming murder rates for trans POC, and the rights of the community being questioned at the level of the Supreme Court, there is SO MUCH we must continue to spread awareness about and fight for. Solidarity is more important now than ever, and it’s up to us to show up! Ways that I personally like to partake in and celebrate Pride are not just about wearing my favorite rainbow gear, showing up to the parade, or listening to a fun playlist: it’s by donating! DONATE to charities that have LGBTQIA+ causes at their core; one of my favorites being The Trevor Project which supports thousands of LGBTQIA+ young people through it all. From feelings of grief, anxiety, and fear, to stress, isolation, and physical distancing, our crisis counselors were there for LGBTQIA+ youth, regardless of what was happening in the world. Happy Pride everyone!

Julia Neuhold, Product Marketing Manager

Pride is about sending a beautiful and loud signal that we’re here. Pride month is a celebration of love, queerness, and friendship. Pride is about visibility. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community, or an ally. When showing up for Pride we send a beautiful and loud signal that we’re here. We stick together, support one another. We see each other. Pride is also a reminder that not everyone can celebrate Pride freely. Be it because of the country you live in, the people you’re surrounded with, or the stigma that is enhanced when combining sexuality, race, or religion. The reality is that Pride can be quite scary for many. And every year I hope that Pride can bring more people a feeling of security and strength.

Tamara Bond, Delivery Operations Manager

Pride is about being brave and true to yourself.  Pride this year matters to me in a very personal way, because I’m coming out – again. After identifying as bisexual for nearly 18 years, I came to the realization that it wasn’t my truth. I’m a lesbian. The last six months have been really scary. I’ve had to come out to my friends, my family, my husband and his family. I had so much anxiety about their reactions and rejection, the disappointment and heartbreak I’d cause. It’s not been an easy journey, but I’ve been so lucky so far in that everyone has been very supportive. I also feel a lot of guilt around being seen as some kind of justification for the bi-phobia and bi-erasure that so many bisexuals feel. The misconception that someone is only bi until they “pick a side” is a huge problem, especially in the gay and lesbian communities. My experience and existence doesn’t invalidate the identity of bisexuals. With all the anxieties about my realization, the one thing I was never worried about was coming out at work. I believe it’s really important to be able to be authentic in professional life. Your sexuality or gender identity have no direct impact on your ability to do your role. But if you’re constantly maintaining a level of alertness, watching what you say to make sure you don’t give anything away, or having to put on an identity that’s not yours, that’s continuous stress and energy that you’re expending. You may be unable to relax in the same way as your peers, or potentially unable to participate in important informal and social events that can be key to progression. It never occurred to me that I’d be treated any differently by my colleagues, by dotdigital, or by the wider email industry circles I run in. I spoke recently at the Festival of Email on a panel with two other members of the LGBTQIA+ community who also work in email, and they agreed that this industry (while still having a lot of work to do) is one of the safer spaces in the tech world. Having communities like dotLGBT and now the new dotVoice and dotDEI committees has meant that I’ve always felt really comfortable being myself at dotdigital. I even went to my first Pride with colleagues from across the company. The reason why I can so boldly come out without fear of the impact on my professional life is because I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, and lean on the support of those around me. It’s my responsibility to contribute towards pushing the movement forward and become part of the support structure. There are people in other industries and other countries who are not afforded the same comforts or rights that I have. A year on from my last post, trans and non-binary people are under attack more than ever, from all sides including our own community. Until we have liberation and rights for all, Pride will always matter.
From everyone at dotdigital, HAPPY PRIDE!
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