From attacks on reproductive justice to blatantly anti-trans legislation and the minimal progress in racial justice, make no mistake, we are under attack. And while it’s certainly not a new phenomenon for us, I keep coming back to what history has taught us over, and over again about the slow erosion of rights. There is no guarantee that progress is permanent. There is no guarantee that the inroads we have made in the 52 years since Stonewall, that we won’t lose ground.
“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode their rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which those changes can be reversed.” – Unknown
Imperceptible, that’s the first point. I’d add tolerable. For example, maybe we don’t love the idea of brands donating millions of dollars to elect anti-LGBTQ candidates, but it’s tolerable because it can be extremely difficult to spot and if we do, it can seem that our single voice doesn’t amount to much anyway.
We must begin to think more critically about our relationships with companies (large and small). We need to do better for Us. Do I love rainbows? Obvs. Does it feel good to feel seen? Hell, yes. Of course, it does. But rainbows aren’t enough. How much ground can we tolerate losing? Which basic rights can we live without? Which community can we condone being marginalized?
A recent experience with a professional sports brand drove this home for me. This brand, like many others, has struggled to get PRIDE celebrations on their feet for the past several years. Although, they have put some effort in with the community. While I applaud the effort, the 2022 planning process left me with more rage than rainbows.
Simply put. Rather than invest time to conduct meaningful outreach through the more than 20 LGBTQ+ local, community serving and non-profit organizations, they pitted these same organizations against one another in the Hunger Games of fundraising. I wish I were joking. The premise: help them sell their product to us. The catch? Only the top selling organization qualifies for acknowledgement. Um. What?
Exploiting the LGBTQ+ community and pitting it against itself is not diverse, equitable, nor inclusive. This is DEI gone very, very wrong and it’s imperative that we call it out and work to address it. Hopefully this was not the intention. If we don’t think about it critically and ask, we can’t possibly know. There is too much on the line to not know.
As we kick-off PRIDE Month, I submit these imperatives for you consideration and propose that we hold ourselves accountable to think critically about our interactions with one another AND external stakeholders, particularly those who stand to profit from us.
These are my personal imperatives for PRIDE Month, do these resonate with you? What would YOU add to this list? Let me hear about it.
- Demand social responsibility
- Commit to Trans rights
- Stand for reproductive justice
- Work for racial equity and justice
Happy PRIDE Month!