• Sanjukta Moorthy

Real Pride or Nothing at All

Happy Pride month, wherever you are in the world! I hope you are safe and well.

June is celebrated as Pride Month, to honour the June 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in New York City, US. But I'm writing this partly out of frustration at the performative allyship I'm seeing online, and partly to share why I care about Pride.

I am a queer woman from South India. The SMC Group is a proudly queer and feminist-owned business. Every client we work with reflects these values, and our partners share them. These are the only organisations I want to work with and help to grow. Though my values are a huge part of my business, this post is more personal.

It's only day 2 and I'm already seeing so much PR fluff about how companies are inclusive and accepting. There's so much lip service so in case some companies like that need advice, here's where I think you should start:

  1. A person's sexuality is their business. It is personal. You cannot ask about it. You cannot turn them into your poster child each June. Do not put the burden of representation on them.

  2. A person's gender identity is their business. This is not the month to ask them all your 'unanswered' questions.

  3. Yes, sexuality and gender identity are different.

  4. But also, make sure you make the space in your organisation for them to feel safe and respected. If they want to mark Pride in some way, respect them enough to do so.

  5. Unless they explicitly want to host a talk, do not ask anyone from our community to get on a podium and say or do something for Pride. Some of us want to get on with our work days, and we celebrate Pride outside the office.

  6. What is your LGBTQIA2S+ inclusion policy? If you do not have one, start writing one. Publish your commitment to do so online. Recruit consultants to do this for you. Reach out if you need recommendations.

  7. What are you doing on a regular basis, on other months of the year, to be accepting and loving of our community? You don't have to do this, but if you dust off your Pride flags for June only and ignore us during the rest of the year, please be honest about that, and try not to contribute to the already commercialised nature of this month. Please do something sincere and meaningful, or nothing at all.

I have celebrated in a number of ways since university. Sometimes we'd go to talks and political events, sometimes we'd protest. I've yet to attend a march, but I've gone to a lot of outdoor events, concerts, parties, barbecues, and public spaces where we're vocal about our existence and our pride.

It's important to show every LGBTQIA2S+ child that they are seen and loved. We should show anyone who would attack or harm us that we are people just like them who deserve respect and rights.

We celebrate ourselves in protest against a world where we are not all loved and safe. If you can safely celebrate Pride, whether you are part of our community or an ally, I urge you to do so. As our message circulates, we can do our part to slowly shift how people see us.

Who knows, we may inspire someone to come out. We may inspire families and friends to celebrate those in their lives. We owe it to those still in the closet to celebrate ourselves, and them too.

But my favourite way to celebrate it is to be thankful and grateful for the immense privilege I have to be out, safe, accepted, and loved. Especially in a world where our community is fighting for acceptance in some lucky countries, and for their lives in many others.

Sometimes the best way to celebrate Pride is to sit together with good friends or a special someone, with some good food and many drinks. Millions of my brothers and sisters are fighting for that right. Millions are unaware of who they really are, or are ashamed of it. I don't ever want to take my privilege for granted. I feel like I owe it to myself and them to take this moment of peace, and then continue working for them.

I don't want to focus only on the negatives but try a Google search right now. You'll find blog posts like this, and news articles explaining what Pride is. And you will find reports of murders, rapes, assaults, and crimes against peoples' homes and businesses.

For my own mental health and since this is what I do for a living, I try not to focus only on what needs changing. But I don't want to forget it and focus only on myself. This month is about all of us worldwide, and I use this time to think about how I can better support my people.

Every year since 2015, I also watch the Pride scenes in Sense8. The pure joy and elation there is something else. We should take this time to honour the struggles of all those who came before us, around the world, who fought and died for our right to have the lives we live. And we have to respect them by being loud and proud as they could not.

As a person and as a company, I want to keep learning how to do better. If you know of any campaigns, organisations, or people that can help me improve, I would really love to know about them.

Also, any of your recommendations on how I can do better, and how my company can be more inclusive, are super welcome. Please feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

Thank you!!!