What does Pride mean to you?
From New York to London and Sydney, many of our team members would usually be marching at Pride in the coming weeks; but because of the COVID pandemic we need to commemorate this momentous event and month in other ways. Because this year, what Pride stands for is more important than ever before.
I reached out to friends across dotdigital for their thoughts on the Pride movement and what it means to them right now.
Pride is a state of mind
Ashley Joyce, Head of Key Accounts
Pride is a beautiful celebration of love, life, and acceptance – covered in glitter! We still need Pride today to give hope for those who are not in as privileged a place as us. There are still countries today I can’t visit through fear of persecution, and there’s still outward and vocal discrimination in this country against the way I live my life.
It’s as important as ever that we continue to fight for people’s right to be themselves. For people who don’t feel safe enough to come out, Pride is such an incredible statement, shared across the world, that shows that IT IS OK to love who you love. The Pride movement has reached high profile status and symbolizes hope and acceptance. Whilst I’m gutted there will be no parade (due to social distancing), Pride is a state of mind. A time to celebrate with friends, reflect, support one another, and continue to strive for equality. It’s so important that we celebrate how we can!
For people struggling with their identity, gender, or sexuality, there are lots of platforms out there; such as The Rainbow Project, as well as other mental health support networks. Look out for allies and people who showcase the Pride flag in their windows (not to be confused with the NHS flag – which should be separate in my opinion) for people to talk to. There is a great sense of solidarity in the LGBTQ+ community and always an ear available to listen and talk.
Pride, the last thing remaining in Pandora’s box
Chris Cano, Content Team Lead
Pandora’s box was sealed shut before the last of its contents could escape: hope. Hope is an enduring survivor of humanity in the face of oppression. When the world looks bleak, turns its back on years of progress, and treats people unfairly, there’s always the hope of a better future.
For me, Pride epitomizes people’s faith. And while I, a privileged gay white man, have little to fear in my society, I wish the same could be said for gay men everywhere, for people of color, for trans men and women, for religious minorities – for everyone. Our lived experiences are always circumstantial, contextual, and subjective; but just because it’s okay for me doesn’t make it okay.
The Black Lives Matter movement has taught me a lot. While I’ve always believed in the decency of human beings – a rather romantic notion – the world, at times, can be full of ignorance, intolerance, and hostility. Because even in an ocean of love, one drop of hate can pollute it. Just think about how racism has become institutionalized, thanks to our colonial past, under our very noses. But people, including myself, are sobering up. Often, I’ve sat on my UK high horse and watched events unfolding across the Atlantic with horror – but with the relief and almost smug satisfaction that such events don’t happen where I live. I’ve come to realize that because I am anti-racist — and don’t know anyone who’s not like me in that respect — I never thought it was a problem in my immediate world. Sure, racism exists – of course it does. But not on my doorstep. I completely internalized my feelings on the issue like it were a non-issue; perhaps being orbited by a circle of liberal, bourgeois friends and family has made me complacent. That is quite sad.
Adopting this kind of attitude — a dangerously warped version of reality — is wrong. Because how we see something shifts our truth; and that can be self-limiting. Visibility over disadvantaged groups of society, and understanding their struggles, is key. We all have a duty to engage in the narrative and align our perspective to the bigger picture. Being gay, and having suffered homophobic abuse, should have taught me that. But then again, I’ve never suffered racist abuse before – and it’s because I’m white. Just like my straight male friends have never suffered abuse on the grounds of their sexuality. I’ve never been subjected to sexist comments like my girlfriends have – and it’s because I’m a man. And my male friends have never been put at a disadvantage because of their sex before, professionally or otherwise, either. Privilege has corrupted our society, ingrained itself in more ways than one; and while changing culture is hard work, it’s not impossible.
Pride isn’t the only answer to the deep-rooted, underlying problems we face in our society. But it acts as a vehicle of hope — a movement where everyone’s welcome to voice solidarity — to get us from A to B to C and beyond. We can’t rest on our laurels whenever we take one step forward, because we can just as easily go back again. But I hope for a day when all prejudices and injustices are confined to the history books. Until then I’ll no longer stand around waiting, but call people out more, learn the facts from those who suffer, and spread awareness whatever the issue – and whether it affects me or not.
Pride: what really matters
Tamara Bond, Deliverability Operations Manager
This Pride month, in this of all years, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that what matters is intersectionality.
People of color in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially trans women of color, are statistically far more likely to be the victims of the worst kind of bigotry and violence that any member of our community receives. Even within our own community, we find saddening examples of racism and cultural appropriation. Butch white lesbians have been appropriating the use of “stud”, a historically black lesbian identity. Gay black men are frequently discriminated against or fetishized by white gay men on gay dating websites.
Each person has many identities, and for those of us who include ‘white’ in that identity – especially when combined with ‘able bodied’ and ‘neurotypical’ – the privileges that these identities afford outweigh so many of the the privileges we don’t have. It is really difficult to think only of the ways in which you have privilege without being distracted by the ways in which you don’t have privilege. This is an exercise recommended by Ijeoma Oluo in her book “So you want to talk about race”.
I tried it, and I caught myself thinking: I’m white, that’s a huge privilege. BUT I’m a woman. I’m in a heteronormative relationship; I’m a woman and my civil partner is a man. BUT I’m still queer. I was privately educated and had parents who were very supportive when it came to school and homework. BUT my parents’ relationship was volatile and it broke up during my A-level years. For every privilege I have, my brain immediately provided a disadvantage.
Those “buts” are so intrusive. Trying to think only about your privileges is a tough mental exercise, but a worthwhile one. Once you identify your privileges, you can see how they affect your world view and your opinions of others. You can start to explore how you can leverage your privileges to raise up those who do not get to walk through the world with the same ease.
So, let’s talk about how us white members of the LGBTQIA+ community can be more understanding and supportive, and make our activism more intersectional.
What I’m hearing from people of color
I’m open to further advice, but here’s what I’m hearing from people of color so far:
- It’s not the job of people of color to educate us on the history of racial inequality. They’ve already produced so many resources – books, articles, blogs, films, podcasts. We need to seek these out ourselves, and read and watch and listen.
- We need to stand up when we see racial injustice, especially when perpetrated by other white people when no people of color are present. Just as men calling out misogyny in other men is important in the fight for equal treatment of women, white people have to call out other white people on our shit.
- If we’re part of an event such as a meetup or conference, analyze representation of speakers and panelists and, if needed, be that person who asks the organizers: why aren’t there more people of color involved?
- Support businesses owned by people of color, and look to buy from these businesses instead of large corporations who make their money from poorly paid labor. People who earn minimum wage are more likely to be people of color.
- Donate to charities that support LGBTQIA+ people of color, like the Homeless Black Trans Women Fund, the Okra Project, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and the TransWomen of Colour Collective.
I was recently invited to speak on a Women in Deliverability panel at EEC (Email Evolution Conference). After some basic introductions to the other panelists, I asked a really uncomfortable question: does anyone here not identify as white? The answer was no, we are all the whitest. Okay, I said, we should make space for women of color – our feminism needs to be more intersectional. But none of us could think of any who work in the deliverability sphere.
Part of our panel discussion is now going to be raising this issue. Are there no women of color in deliverability? Are there women of color in deliverability but they are not coming to the conferences and events where we all meet each other? Or are they coming to these conferences and not meeting the influencers in our niche section of the industry who can help to raise their profile so they can share their expertise?
Our focus on this panel is, of course, going to be deliverability. None of us are experts in race, all of us experience the industry through the lens of our whiteness, and I don’t expect us to have any of the answers. But we will have that conversation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable it makes us, because it’s important that as Women in Deliverability we embrace and encourage diversity. And we should be doing the same in the LGBTQIA+ community.
A time to stop and reflect
Amie Lane, Head of Partner Marketing
“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” – President Barack Obama
Every year in June, people around the world celebrate equality, freedom, love, and the LGBTQIA+ community – Pride!
Pride can mean different things to different people, to me Pride is a celebration of self-affirmation, dignity, and equal rights for all. It’s a time for people from all walks of life to stop and reflect on what it means to be truly accepting and accepted, and the peaceful, positive effect this can have on the world.
Pride represents breaking through the barriers and confinements of stereotypical beliefs in our society. It is a celebration of diversity and about allowing everyone to truly follow their hearts and have the freedom to love whomever they choose. Afterall love is the one language that connects us all.
The first time I marched at Pride was just a couple of years ago in 2017 – the atmosphere in London was electric, the love was profound and the acceptance in the air was spellbinding, it was a truly wonderful feeling – when so many people come together and all have so much love and acceptance in their hearts – the world shifts, the air sparks and you can literally feel the energy of life. If only every day could be like that!
“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”–Jason Collins, first openly gay athlete in U.S. pro sports
It’s time to champion love!
A global celebration of self-respect
David Aldrich, Global HR Director
Pride for me is a great opportunity for people everywhere, not just those who identify as LBGT+, to come together GLOBALLY to celebrate, support and educate. By the very definition of ‘Pride’, it’s the perfect way for individuals and groups to express confidence and self-respect and to promote and share a positive culture.
The wider use of the image of a rainbow is a symbol of togetherness, positivity, hope, and change. This has never been more important than when it was adopted as a symbol of support for key-workers during COVID. Even the more traditional interpretation of the rainbow as a symbol of Peace carries huge positive influence in its adoption by Pride and the support of the NHS and other key workers.
Pride is marching for love
Annica Ljungberg, Office Manager
2020. Who would have thought that this would be the year where we would have some of the worst wildfires, a devastating locust swarm, numerous earthquakes, and, of course, a global pandemic. And did someone mention giant murderous hornets coming our way?
It is truly heart-breaking thinking about the amount of suffering the world has seen during the space of just a few months. But we have also seen some extraordinary things happening lately. There has been a dramatic fall in global carbon emissions. The Black Lives Matter movement is taking shape and there is change, real positive change, starting to happen. It is vital that we all take a stand, take part and reflect, and join in conversations with our friends, peers, and with ourselves. Finally, it seems, people are waking up to the fact that we have the power to change things. That it is achievable if we all come together. The power of the people is enormous.
This year, it is 50 years since the first Pride march took place in New York City. People coming together, marching for the right to love who you fall in love with. We all still need to take part in this fight for love. Homosexuality is still illegal in many countries, and in Europe, an increasing number of politicians are trying to make it illegal again by spreading hateful and false propaganda. In the US, the Trump administration has just dictated that discrimination against L.G.B.T. people in the health care system is not forbidden.
So yes, the fight for equality is still very much going on and is now perhaps more important than ever. We need to make sure we are moving forward, not backwards. A friend of mine was beaten up badly last year and ended up in hospital for a long time: because he was holding hands with his loved one. I can’t even fathom what it must be like, having to hide who you are, having to fear becoming a victim of violence because of love. It is vital that we all take a moment, this pride month in lockdown, to educate ourselves and become better people. Love conquers all.
It’s about making society fairer and kinder
Frank Brooks, Global Demand Generation Manager
Pride month in 2020 is definitely very different to previous years, but to me it’s never been more crucial to recognize and celebrate diversity and individuality. It might seem obvious to say, but for me Pride really is a time to be proud. Proud of who I am, what I stand for, the way I speak, and the example I want to set.
I know in the past it’s been easier not to disclose my sexuality or try (badly) to appear straight; to not distract focus from the matter at hand, often in a professional setting. Pride reminds me this is wrong and gives me the confidence not to hide or change who I am simply to appease others. I’m lucky not to be immediately judged on my appearance or skin color, which isn’t the same for those of BAME backgrounds. I stand alongside my BLM friends and colleagues, especially those who are LGBTQ+ during Pride. This year’s Pride month is even more significant with the BLM movement finally gaining the attention and respect it deserves – the power of protest!
But there is always more we can do; we need to continue to fight for all human rights across the globe. Pride is a reminder that the journey to equality will never be without struggle but as we come together, raise awareness, accept each other, and challenge the status quo, we move ever closer to a fairer and kinder society.
This is why Pride month today is as important as ever. Pride has helped me embrace my uniqueness yet realize I’m part of something much bigger – a community which has similar prejudices, judgement, and scrutiny, but share a sense of togetherness and unity. Pride creates a safe space for us to feel free to be whoever we are and to celebrate it – and anyone is welcome. Happy Pride!
Pride: spreads love and beauty
Cara Cooke, Account Management Team Lead
What does Pride mean to me? It means showing my LQBTQ+ friends, family, and all LQBTQ+ people everywhere that they are loved, supported, accepted. Members of the LGBTQ+ community should never again have to hide who they are or live in fear. In a world where, under the surface, hatred is still very much prevalent, we look to the Pride movement as a source of comfort, security, and fortitude.
Why do we still need Pride today? Because it is a celebration of diversity, it brings people together for all the right reasons. It spreads love and beauty. But most importantly, it acts as a platform of support for anyone who is subjected to any kind of hate. Whether you’re suffering from homophobic or trans abuse, racism, sexism or misogyny, Pride is your home. Everyone should embrace who they are, stay true to themselves, and fight for their voice.
Pride means love and acceptance
Gavin Laugenie, Head of Strategy and Insight
What does Pride mean to me? A few years ago the answer to this question would have been very different.
*Warning, cliché alert*
“I’ve got nothing against Pride, I have gay friends! I just don’t think it’s for me; it’s just all a bit gay, isn’t it?” Sound familiar? It’s probably something I would have said before I got over myself. I mean, why would I need to think about Pride?
Being a straight black man, it’s not my fight or struggle; I’ve got plenty of other things I need to be worried about: in a nutshell, racism. Plus in my opinion, the black community still has some way to go in terms of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people; so supporting or attending Pride was a no-no. Telling friends and family that I was going to Pride would have brought up a load of questions: “Are you gay?; “Why do you need to go?”, etc. And on top of that, my insecurities wouldn’t allow me to attend; I mean what if someone saw me there, and God forbid, what if a guy looked at me?!!
One of my favorite artists is Frank Ocean, a man who shocked his fans back in 2012 with an open letter addressing his sexuality. Of course, he’s black, and it was an incredibly brave thing to do coming out as it may have destroyed his career. But he did it regardless. Frank had the answer for me. In one of his songs, he sings “I believe that marriage isn’t Between a man and woman but between love and love.” It’s that simple, the answer is love, and I’d be a hypocrite asking the world to look at me as an equal being black if I didn’t think everyone else was equal regardless of who and how they love.
Which lead me to try and understand what Pride is all about. It didn’t just come about because gay people needed a party. It was born out of a long history of struggle to commemorate the Stonewall riots. So a few years ago, I threw my inhibitions and hang-ups to one side and decided that, with my dotfamily, I’d attend my first Pride.
I’m not sure I was ready for the visual feast laid out before my eyes, I mean I saw a lot, probably too much to go into right now. But one thing I can safely say is that I saw was a whole lot of love. People were coming together from all different races and religions to show solidarity and to have a f*cking great time. I screamed at the top of my lungs, I hugged countless strangers, pasted glitter everywhere (that stuff stays with you forever) and I laughed uncontrollably. And I didn’t spontaneously combust when another man winked at me! That first year at Pride was one of the best days of my life, and it taught me that we all have a lot more in common with each other than we think.
Now I look forward to Pride every year, which is a massive shame because I won’t get my glitter fix this year. But that won’t stop me supporting the cause. We’re all here just trying to live our lives, and our sexuality shouldn’t matter one bit.
So, what does Pride mean to me now? In a word, love.
A light that shines on equality and visibility
Isabel Muñoz, Event Marketing Manager
What does Pride mean to me?: As a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride means so much to me. But at its core, it’s the celebration of love being accepted for being love. It’s also an opportunity for those in the community to spread their love and their light and to promote the equality and visibility that they deserve. Lin-Manuel Miranda summed it up best in his 2016 Tony Awards acceptance speech “love is love is love is love is LOVE.”
Why do we still need Pride today?: To celebrate and commemorate the Stonewall riots and for all those who continue to fight for equality and visibility in the LGBTQ+ community. Though we’ve made huge strides, there is still so much work to be done!
How does the movement inspire social action globally?: It definitely brings awareness and now is celebrated globally at the same time around the world. It’s all the same fight and struggle, some countries worse than others, so to be able to just drive awareness and show acts of solidarity is amazing.
How can people celebrate Pride while social distancing?: Hanging the Pride flag outside your home or on your car, maybe watching an educational documentary on Netflix, sharing educational content on your social media platforms, or maybe just blasting some Lady Gaga or this Pride Playlist from Spotify and having a zoom party/socially safe-distanced part