WHAT DOES PRIDE MEAN TO YOU?
Kim: Pride for me means liberty and freedom. To celebrate who you are and others for who they are. Let people shine in their uniqueness without being judged, without being scared.
Mo: Pride is a way of showing that you love yourself for who you are. You accept yourself and know that you're unique. I grew up in a small town where I was the first POC queer Muslim. So you can imagine it was hard growing up, especially when everyone around you is very heteronormative and white. I couldn't relate to anybody and was very ashamed of who I was. Moving out of the small city I lived in really opened up the world for me. I stepped into my queerness and began exploring the F out of myself. I started accepting who I was, and I WAS ACTUALLY PROUD. So what does Pride mean to me? It means that you wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and are proud of who YOU are. Even when it doesn't fit the norm that society created a billion years ago. It's living your truth, even when sometimes it means that certain people don't want to be part of your life anymore. It's the Pride I take in being Mo.
Robbe: I'm relatively new to the community and Pride. After a lonely journey of over ten years of searching for myself, I've come to terms that I indeed am bisexual. Since my coming out, I've found people I can now luckily call dear friends who've helped me with my first steps within the community. Last year was my first Pride, and by experiencing that moment, I truly felt what it meant to BE PROUD. Pride is a place where people are PROUD of who they are, what they stand for, and for the hurdles that they encountered and are going to encounter. It's a safe space for everyone, regarding sexuality, self-expression, lifestyle... with one basic premise: respect for one another and embracing that the world is not black or white. It's a spectrum heeeeenny.
WHY DOES PRIDE STILL MATTER?
Nigel: Pride is a sign of progress and growth. Since the start of Pride in '69 there have been giant leaps in protecting our rights and general sense of safety, but not for ALL of us. To this day, trans people and queer POC are still disproportionally more affected by violence and infectious diseases. Yes, white cis-gendered gay men are better off now, but there's still a long way to go. As part of the LGBTQIA+ community, we need to fight for everyone's rights - not only our own. During the AIDS epidemic, it were the lesbians who became our support system when nobody else would. Black women fought for gay rights while others remained silent. Black transgender women threw bricks at cops during the Stonewall riots when they weren't even acknowledged as real citizens at the time. With the overturning of Roe v Wade, the US has not only time traveled 50 years to the past, but they've also successfully started to fuel the fire that is queerphobia. Our presence is our protest. We need to remain visible, and we deserve representation.
Lorenzo: Because we deserve to be represented and to be heard, which is definitely not the case yet. We may have advanced in some areas, but we can't back down and think we're doing "good" because we're clearly not. Even recent events prove that we still have a long way to go. And the only way to get there, is to stand up, take up space and be visible.
Theo: 193 countries in the world are members of the United Nations.
• In 70 countries, homosexuality is punishable.
• In 46 countries, it is also illegal for women
• In 27 countries, LGBTQIA+ people can be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison
• In 30 countries, homosexuality is punishable by up to 8 years in prison
• In at least 11 countries, you can even be sentenced to death
• In only 11 countries are LGBTQIA+ rights included in the constitution
• In 29 countries, same-sex marriage is recognized
• In 57 countries, there is broad protection for LGBTQIA+ people
Mo: Pride will always matter until we're all equal in rights and accepted. Especially for us POC people, it's so essential to have Pride. Most of the time, there's a disconnect between our families and us: they don't accept us for who we are, and they deny our identity, that really creates a wedge between us. In these times, there's no better thing than to have a chosen family. Pride brings us together and creates opportunities for people in the same situations to connect. Finding someone you can relate to is so important for yourself but also for you to heal. Talking about these situations with your peers will also reduce your resentment toward your family. Hearing these stories will show you that it's not because of you, but because of them and the old traditions/beliefs, they want to hang on to. We must keep fighting for equal rights and acceptance for everybody, not only within the LGBTQIA+ community but all minorities. Pride reminds people that the battle is not over yet and that we must keep fighting and standing together.
WHAT DOES AN ALLY MEAN TO YOU?
Nigel: A true ally is someone vocal about LGBTQIA+ rights in every aspect of their lives. Whether it's on big issues like marriage or adoption or when they speak up when they see micro-aggressions like social exclusion, remarks, or mockery in their environment. An ally believes we have the right to exist, live, love, and be - just like anybody else. An ally keeps their community accountable and isn't afraid of losing social currency if it means doing or saying what's right.
Lorenzo: To me, an ally is someone who makes the world a better place for the LGBTQIA+ community. Someone who isn't scared to stand up for our rights and supports equal rights for everyone. But also someone who educates themselves talks about it to other people and someone who is aware of their own privileges.
Kim: I take it personally, as we should treat others like we would like to be treated. Even if it is different from your own comfort zone, life would be dull without colorful diversity, so let's embrace the differences and get to a point where you are eager to know more about other views in life to broaden your own perspective - standing up for Pride as a goal to increase the feasibility for my daughters' generation to experience (in hopefully the near future) this liberty as evident, obvious… and unable to imagine it otherwise. The same way our generation feels about looking down on slavery.
Theo: An Ally to me means a supporter who sticks up for and speaks out on equal rights and treatment. We recently visited Berlin Pride with Levi's, where we joined a panel talk, and someone said - an ally speaks out for you when you left the room, which I could very much agree upon. I think it might even be the essence that speaking out in the most challenging situations drives change. As was mentioned in Levi's panel talk: the change continues with you.
HOW CAN A BRAND BE AN ALLY?
Robbe: For me, a brand can be an ally by not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. Inside and outside of the company! A company has a big deal of influence, sometimes even more than they even realize. Using that influence to help us and educate everyone is key. So don't only use June to support us (and make a profit) but make it a basic foundation of the company. Just like you should with POC, religions, ethnicities,...
Theo: I think that brands can be an ally by integrating internal LGBTQIA+ policies, fostering visibility in campaigns throughout the year, and listening to and breaking borders/target audiences. Maybe the most dissatisfying part is to admit that brands will tap into socially relevant conversations when it becomes commercially or marketing-wise relevant. I think allyship transcends this and should be implemented without clear commercial benefits because human lives are at stake.
Kim: We need brands to have the courage to step up, show colors, and set an example. Not only once a year in pride month. You love your family every day of the week, not only on their birthday. This means a strategic plan needs to be set for the long term, consistently unrolling the companies' values. Brands can evoke change by using their voice/reach. By being a leader among the voices. Pushing a new standard to build a better future where diversity and inclusivity are embraced, not dissected, and put into boxes. It goes further than the profit gain it could generate. It is about being a good shepherd for your people within the company and moving forward toward a community out there that will choose brands for their liability and authenticity.