LGBTQ+ Pride after June: From Inclusion to Integration
LGBTQ+ Pride after June: From Inclusion to Integration
As Pride Month comes to a close, it invites an opportunity: what now?
First, reflect on what you did to recognise or celebrate Pride this year. If you’re in a leadership position in a company, how mindful were you of this month and its impact on your team? Did you carve out time for LGBTQ+ employees to celebrate together, or use this as a learning opportunity for ongoing professional development and training? How demanding was the workload for your LGBTQ+ employees after and during Pride Weekend, which typically occurs the last weekend of June? Did planning this fall on LGBTQ+ employees themselves, and if so, what compensation was given?
If you’re LGBTQ+, consider how you felt this month. Do you feel included, affirmed, celebrated? Do you feel tokenised, misunderstood, or erased? While it isn’t your job to advocate for yourself at work, giving yourself time to reflect and consider can be a useful practice in supporting the cultivation of an LGBTQ+ friendly work environment, or a consideration in finding a work environment that is best for you.
Note: Pride month has roots in disrupting police violence and discrimination, particularly against Black and Latinx trans women and drag queens, resulting in the Stonewall Riots in NYC. If your celebration and honoring of pride had more to do with rainbow cupcakes than solidarity actions, it’s a great time to reconsider and reframe.
Next, look ahead. Whatever was able to be accomplished this month is hopefully just the beginning of an ongoing and integrated effort to have an LGBTQ-affirming work environment. While including LGBTQ+ people and highlighting them during the month of June is still needed in our hetero- and cis-privileged society, queer and trans people exist and work all year long.
Here are some considerations for integrating LGBTQ+ affirmation throughout the year.
- De-center whiteness: There has been a systemic centering of white LGBTQ+ people, and often supports, in LGBTQ+ advocacy and inclusion efforts. White gay men were the first members of our community to gain enough systemic wealth to fund LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts, and often white LGBTQ+ people are those with enough privilege, resources, and support to be able to risk advocating for their needs in larger, systemic ways. Make sure your company’s LGBTQ+ groups are racially diverse, and that you are centering the needs of non-white LGBTQ+ employees and other constituents internally and externally. If your company is undergoing wide-spread and systemic anti-racist changes without considering and centering the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ people of colour, particularly Black and Indigenous LGBTQ+ folks, you’re missing the mark.
- Looking for more information? Check out UK Black Pride, an organization celebrating LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American descent.
- Consider: How “out” is your company about LGBTQ+ affirmation? As a queer lesbian person of colour, I have learned to be incredibly careful about which work environments I enter. Ever since I was told that “Please bring your significant others” at a work function “didn’t mean me” I’ve prioritised explicitly accepting LGBTQ+ workplaces. How would new, potential employees find out about your work environment? Is there a public Diversity and Equity statement that names LGBTQ+ people, or sexual orientation and gender identity/expression? How would anyone on a hiring committee answer what supports are in place for LGBTQ+ employees if that question arose on a job interview? How many out LGBTQ+ employees are currently in positions of power in your organisation?
- Ensure your Human Resources (HR) representative is competent about LGBTQ-affirming policies: Although this pride marks the one year anniversary of the supreme court’s landmark decision to protect LGBTQ+ Employees on a national level, our country has a long way to go to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel comfortable sharing their identities at work. How easy is it for employees to change their names or pronouns while at work? Everything from trans-affirming surgery medical coverage to parental leave to non-discrimination policies to dress code can affect your LGBTQ+ employees’ experiences, mental health, retention and job performance.
- Looking for more resources? Check out these 10 Ways to Support LGBT Employees and WorkPlace Pride, an international organization for LGBTQ+ Inclusion at work.
- Separate your LGBQ and Trans/Nonbinary Actions: While there is generally considered an LGBTQ+ community, there are extremely different needs for folks facing gender discrimination or pushback than sexual orientation. Trans women and trans men will also have different needs than nonbinary people, and creating a proactive and affirming work environment includes having visible actions whether you have out colleagues/employees or not.
- This looks like inviting folks to share pronouns on video conferences where names are shown, and including pronouns in email signatures. Not putting the labour for people who use gender neutral pronouns to advocate for this free and simple inclusive support is a great way to show allyship all year.
- Looking for more resources? Check out this podcast on Pronoun Power.
- Highlight Diversity: LGBTQ+ exist in all racial and ethnic groups, and are part of other system-impacted communities. We are incarcerated. We have disabilities. We are fat. We exist in every faith community. We have privileges and are in power. One way to truly integrate the affirmation of LGBTQ+ people throughout the year is to highlight LGBTQ+ people and historical events during Black history month, AAPI Heritage Month, Disability awareness trainings, etc.
- Provide Ongoing, Whole-Staff Trainings: As an LGBTQ+ & Equity consultant, I’ve worked with a variety of companies and leaders over the years to provide trainings ranging from introductory-type “LGBTQ 101” to more in-depth, such as “Decolonising Gender in the Workplace.” More often than not, however, these trainings occur during Pride Month, and are opt-in. To create fully integrated, LGBTQ+-affirming work environments, it’s essential that all employees (including management and leadership) receive ongoing training on diverse, anti-racist, LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, practices, and common language.
If you’re reading this blog, or following The Equal Group, you’re likely already involved in this work. You’re probably giving additional time with little to no compensation as a member of an Equity or Diversity group or advisory committee. Maybe you’ve even had conversations advocating for some of the year-long and lasting actions I’ve suggested above. If that’s you, then thank you for all that you’re doing. The work never ends, but showing up in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community at work makes a difference.
If you’re newer to these ideas and have made it to the end of this piece, then thank you. Combatting generations of systemic homophobic and transphobic institutional decisions does not just happen. Understanding our place in the undoing of this work and the rebuilding of a new world, one where employees can confidently bring their full selves to work, share about their life experiences and partner(s), and have agency and input over projects and even companies, will take all of our work, learning, and will definitely stretch past June.
Bex Mui, M. Ed. (she/her) is a biracial, queer, lesbian, cis femme organizer and consultant committed to the work of LGBTQ+ affirmation at the intersections of equity, spirituality, and sexual wellness. Bex has studied, worked, and advocated for systemic LGBTQ+ integration for the past 18 years.
A dedicated professional advocate, Bex has supported LGBTQ-affirmation and social justice initiatives, and has presented on this intersection, on the local, state, and national level. Her spiritual organizing and QTBIPOC-centered healing offerings can be found on IG @HouseOfOurQueer. For more information or to request a training, visit bexmui.com.