It is disheartening and sad that people still gossip about the LGBTQ community. If the boy next door is gay, the neighbour near the local canteen will surely talk. It’s high time we move beyond this. If a gay person wears a sari to work, it becomes a topic of discussion. We need to rise above such judgments. Let’s encourage a world where everyone can express their true selves without fear of gossip or ridicule. Embracing diversity and showing empathy can make our society a kinder, more accepting place. It’s time to break free from these outdated prejudices.

These things are occuring in my mind as June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and its vibrant diversity. But Pride is much more than a celebration; it’s a call to action for inclusivity and a reminder of the ongoing journey for equal rights.

It’s arguably one of the most colourful times of the year. A certain section of the society is celebrating the LGBTQ community inspite of everything. The rainbow flag in its various iterations joyfully appears, adorning shop windows, street banners, themed celebrations, advertising, and social media campaigns. Some cities across India and the world host parades and events that attract hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to celebrate together; not only invigorating local economies but also providing a platform from which to communicate a message.

LGBT activist opines

Says Aditya Bondyopadhyay, LGBTQ activist: ‘Every aspect of hetero sexuality is celebrated, via marriage, coming of age ceremonies, honeymoons, pregnancy rituals, you name it. None exist for queer people. Pride month is the one month that queer people have appropriated to celebrate themselves. So as much as queer people respect all hetero institutions and celebrations, for everyone else to celebrate and respect pride would be common decency, not to speak of the quid pro quo that sustains social equity.’

Adds Aditya, ‘They are a part of the society and it’s natural, and there shouldn’t be any gossip around them.’

The history of Pride Month: Why pride is more than just a party

Pride is not just a celebration. Although it is an important time to celebrate the progress that has been made across legislation, attitudes and behaviours, it is also a continued protest.

The first Pride, in June 1970, marked the first anniversary since the uprising at New York’s Stonewall Inn.

Since then, the parades have also been a sign of fighting for liberation, visibility and equality. In the UK, particularly up until the repeal of Section 28 in 2003, Pride had a more protest feel than a parade.

The Pride Month meaning remains the same and is a time for people within the community, and their allies, to celebrate successes in LGBTQ inclusion, but it is also a time for reflection.

For the LGBTQ community, history plays a significant part in shaping the current story and reminds us: although lots of progress has been made, there is still lots more to do.

At first, the month was known as ‘gay Pride Month’, but has now progressed to include and reflect on all the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ inclusion: A year-round commitment to diversity and respect

Promoting diversity and inclusion within an organisation has become essential not only to the employers but also to their employees, customers and clients. While there has been a lot of focus on being inclusive of women and people of colour, employers and their HR professionals are also increasing their efforts to build workplaces that incorporate the LGBTQ community. Says Sonica Aron, Founder of Marching Sheep, a global HR consulting firm supporting Pride Month, Keeping an attitude of genuine curiosity, openness, and respect is key. Allyship is an action and a lifelong process, not a label you can give to yourself. Respect differences even if you don’t understand them. Understanding is not required to treat others fairly and with respect.

Adds Sonica: ‘We need to engage people at the cognitive and feeling level. They need to understand the realities and challenges of the community and feel empathy, not sympathy. Conversations where lived realities are shared, panel discussions with members of the community sharing what it’s like to come out to new people each day and fear being judged, to live without the right to have family, to be denied work because of their identity will engage people with facts and real people. Most importantly, these conversations should not start and end in June. They should happen all year round.’

Pride month is a time for reflection, remembrance

Pride is a celebration of the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual or LGBTQ community, the lives that we have, and who we are. But Pride is much more than a celebration. It is also, very importantly, a time for reflection, remembrance, learning, and action. And Pride today may be more important than ever.

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