The catalyst that spearheaded the global movement towards LGBT+ equality was the Stonewall riots in June 1969. The world was a very different time then – society had little understanding of what it meant to be LGBT+, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness and there were few laws that prevented workplace discrimination based on sexuality.
Fast forward half a century and the LGBT+ citizens of many western countries now enjoy anti-discrimination laws, same-sex marriage and greater societal acceptance of diversity. To mark the tumultuous events in New York in 1969, June is now deemed Pride Month – where each year, particularly in Europe and North America, events are held to remember where we came from and to celebrate recent successes.
But 2020 has thrown up its own challenges – with COVID-19 placing the world into lockdown. No more can pride parades watched by millions of spectators be held on location (around 220 parades have been postponed or cancelled), no more can cultural events take place in theatres that hold a mirror against society, no more can employees wear their rainbow lanyards in the office as a visible signal of support, no more can companies broadcast messaging on internal office screens and no more can delegates attend conferences in person to discuss ideas.
During lockdown, here’s how you can mark Pride Month safely, celebrate how far equality has come in 51 years and as an ally show your continued support for the LGBT+ community both with your work colleagues, and your friends and family.
Add photo frames to your social media profile photo
Adding a photo frame to your profile pic on social media is a fantastic way to show support for any cause – many people have loaded a COVID-19 related frame. Facebook makes it easy for you to use artwork that’s already created; just search for the topic you’re after and select the frame that appeals to you. A quick search of “Pride Month 2020” has heaps of options.
Watch the live-stream events on your computer, mobile phone or tablet
This year, the events associated with Global Pride will be live-streamed on June 27. There’ll be 24-hours of music, artistic performances, speeches from activists and campaigners, and addresses by public figures. Organisers are promising that the content will reflect and celebrate the diversity of LGBT+ people everywhere.
The Pride celebrations from New York City on June 28 will also be a virtual event.
By re-imagining these events virtually, the organisers are essentially giving everyone around the world the opportunity to participate in the same way – regardless of whether you’re in Manhattan, Melbourne or Manila. And in doing so, they’re honouring an even greater commitment to inclusion.
Reach out and connect virtually
Never has there been a more important time to check in with each other; even if it’s virtually. Everyone will have a different lockdown experience – but for the LGBT+ community, particularly if someone is struggling to understand who they are, being socially isolated may have an even more detrimental effect on their mental health. While texting or chatting on WhatsApp is great, why not use the video capability of Zoom or Skype to see each other? You don’t need to chat about anything in particular, just the chance to connect is often enough.
Catch up on LGBT+ themed films
Netflix features a range of LGBT+ themed films, television series and documentaries. You could binge watch Glee or Orange is the New Black, check out Hollywood, or laugh and cry along with Hannah Gadsby: Nanette. Alternatively discover hidden gems like God’s Own Country, Yes or No, or To Each, Her Own.
Update your email signature
Sending and receiving emails is a part of life – in and out of lockdown. At Vodafone, we give employees the option of including the standard Vodafone logo in their signature or the logo with a rainbow hue. This gives our teams the opportunity to show their support of LGBT+ employees in a visible yet unobtrusive manner.
And earlier this year, Vodafone introduced the use of gender pronouns as part of our email signatures and initiated conversations to clarify what each individual would like to be referred to as rather than assuming. Across the gender spectrum, there are people that don’t identify as masculine or feminine – they’re gender nonbinary. It can be jarring and alienating when employees that are gender non-binary are referred to as masculine or feminine. In many cases there’s no ill intent, it’s just through a lack of knowledge or unconscious bias. To alleviate the confusion, Vodafone’s email signature template was updated so everyone had the opportunity of stating the pronouns they would like used when people refer to them.