A message about Pride: What does it really mean?
With the world awash in rainbows for the next 30 days, I think we should ask and ponder on, what does Pride really mean?
June is here and with it that greeting and statement. With the world awash in rainbows for the next 30 days, I think we should ask and ponder, what does Pride really mean? It is something I have been thinking about lately and I wanted to share some thoughts with you as we start the month.
This month is about teaching acceptance, educating pride history, and above all, love. Pride is about community and events that showcase inclusive places and partners. We have a lot of them this year, I hope you saw the email and list of Chamber-sponsored Pride Events that Lauren just sent. It’s about the rainbow and Pride flag, we just changed our social media handles to the inclusive ones we created last year and I am seeing many others add a rainbow to theirs. It is about coming together and being kind to one another, something the LGBTQ+ community should work harder on, we are stronger together than we are divided. But Pride is about something more and it should be celebrated all year long, not just the month of June.
I keep thinking back to last year’s Pride in the midst of the COVID19 lockdown and with the nation focused on systemic racism and social injustice, we paused to focus on how to celebrate Pride at that moment and I feel remembered what Pride started as and is all about. I am still so proud of the statement we made in regards to Standing Against Racism and then offering guidance on the conversation we were and needed to be having and on how to be a good ally. That work of representing the LGBTQ+ community in those larger conversations has been central to our work over the last year and will remain so. We represent and advocate for the marginalized of the marginalized, and BIPOC LGBTQ+ should know we are still committed to this work and stand together with them.
It was made very clear this year by the Tennessee Legislature and Governor, that LGBTQ+ people are still under attack. A record number of discriminatory anti-LGBT laws were passed, and more will be coming next year. The Nashville LGBT Chamber worked tirelessly during session to stop this discrimination, and while it is not the outcome we hoped for we should be proud of our work. Our trans siblings are the ones being targeted the most by this hatred and we must stand united against this discrimination. It is not ok to target one part of the LGBT community and expect the rest to remain silent. It is not ok to be for gay and lesbian rights but not trans rights. Any marginalized community is on a list and while transgender people are at the top of that list now, it is only a matter of time before they come for the others on the list. Pride is about standing united and educating our own community and the ally community on trans issues and working together to stop all forms of discrimination, and saying Trans Lives Matter.
Pride is also about support. We work with the business community in regards to LGBT support, but real support should be recognized and appreciated. Now I am going to get really real, and what I am saying is said with love and to make you think. With Pride month you will see brands flipping their logos to rainbow and marketing everything they have to you, the LGBT+ consumer. Ask yourself and those brands, "what do they do the rest of the year for the LGBT community?" Are they being genuine and intentional or just pandering?
Here are some great things to look for and think of:
- What are they doing around advocacy, are they literally on the front lines or just signing letters, putting out statements, or staying silent?
- Do they say one thing in public and then support the opposition?
- Do they source LGBT certified small businesses for their procurement?
- Do they have an active Employee Resource Group (ERG) program for their employees that allows them to bring their whole authentic self to work?
- Do they actively seek out diverse applicants?
- Do they realize that inclusion fosters diversity and if you don't get inclusion right then you will never grow diversity?
- What do they financially support, both for LGBT issues and against?
- When they sell you the rainbow version of their product, do any of the proceeds go to support the LGBT community?
- Are they concerned about LGBT issues all year long or just for Pride Month?
There are many other ways to support the LGBTQ+ community but those are a few solid ones. We work with our members on all of them, and being a member, a high-level committed member to the year-round work of the Chamber is a great signal they get Pride. If you think that you are doing one or all of those, we are here to help you. It is ok, we all can work on being better.
So to all our members Happy Pride and we thank you for your work and your membership. To those that might not be a member, we would love to have you join us and work on and show your Pride all year long.
A few last things I wanted to make sure you saw:
- President Biden released a strong statement today regarding Pride. This is a great change from the previous President who said Happy Pride while systematically attacking LGBTQ+ rights. Passage of the Equality Act is really the only national protection that will fundamentally protect LGBTQ+ Americans and we are glad to see a focus on its passage during Pride Month.
- Nashville Mayor John Cooper also released a statement today celebrating Pride Month and we thank him for the support. Go look at the bridge lit up in rainbow tonight.
We moved the Pride in Business Awards to the first Friday in June. We are gearing up to celebrate the finalists and their work in 3 days. While we are not in the big ballroom and all together, we still need you to show them the love and respect they deserve and we need your support for the LGBT Chamber. Please show your Pride today by buying a ticket and joining us.
And one last reminder, join us for all of our events this month and celebrate Pride and the Chamber, but when the month ends we will be resuming paid memberships. If you are not a current paid member we would love for you to join us before the end of the month to stay engaged with our work and part of this organization. After 16 months of serving everyone, educating about COVID, and open membership, we will be returning to member-only communication and events. We hope you will join us.