June is traditionally the month when PRIDE is celebrated. What sometimes gets lost in the flood of friendly, rainbow-colored merchandise and enthusiastic parade participants is the very serious historic foundations of the PRIDE movement and the need for ongoing and continued work that is happening to ensure that the full humanity of LGBTQ+ individuals is celebrated.
How PRIDE Began
June 28, 1969, eight police officers from New York City’s Public Morals Division raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar. At the time, this type of activity was not unusual, as the Public Morals Division responded to crimes of vice and gambling including prostitution, narcotics, and homosexuality. “Cops could arrest and even force hospitalization of gay people” (Forbes, 2020). On this particular night, patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back.
Though much documentation has attempted to erase people of color from this history, most of the patrons present at the Stonewall Inn were Black and Latinx (WOU, 2017). A riot ensued that lasted six days and gained international coverage. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, is known to have been a significant catalyst for resistance in this historic event.
What PRIDE Means to Many LGBTQ+ People
PRIDE began as a form of resistance to marginalization in society. Since June 1969, many LGBTQ+ people look at the riots at the Stonewall Inn as a declaration that equal rights and treatment matter in all parts of life. At the time of the riots at the Stonewall Inn, LGBTQ+ patrons were claiming their right to openly express their identities in public. Years later, many more rights have been identified and protected through multiple forms of resistance and advocacy. Currently, much work remains to protect the rights of trans people. LGBTQ+ people and allies have created organizations and legal protections to strengthen movement toward accountability in workplaces, schools, doctors’ offices, and more. The riots at the Stonewall Inn were part of a trajectory toward LGBTQ+ inclusion, safety, and health being made equally accessible in society to those of straight, cisgendered people. PRIDE month is a celebration of all that has been accomplished and a form of social connection to energize LGBTQ+ communities for the work yet to be done.
LGBTQ+ Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Employees
Did you know that 1% of all small businesses in the United States are owned by people who self-identify as LGBTQ+? In all likelihood, the number of business owners who are LGBTQ+ probably exceeds the number of those who openly identify. In their 2019 report, Visibility Counts, Out Leadership found that up to 46% of employees are not out at work. This number is greater in areas with lower rates of LGBTQ+ acceptance. A bit of good news is that a few organizations are doing work to strengthen LGBTQ+ business and employee retention and resilience. Those organizations include the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the Human Rights Campaign, and StartOut.
For LGBTQ+ business owners seeking support, the NGLCC offers connection and resources. The NGLCC regularly hosts online business pitch meetings, an annual business leadership conference, and webinars discussing the importance of allyship within LGBTQ+ business communities among people with diverse racial and ethnic identities. StartOut also provides support in the form of mentorship and upskilling webinars for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
If employers want to adopt inclusive practices, where can they find guidance? The Human Rights Campaign Foundation published a report on their findings that includes a framework for “rating workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality” (HRC, 2017). This study found that businesses with a few specific practices in place tended to succeed in facilitating inclusion and equality at higher rates than other businesses. Some of these practices are LGBTQ+ diversity training, policy creation, and benefits expansion. Training creates a precedent for workplace values and accountability. Policies and expanded benefits work best when incorporated as “part of an everyday workplace practice of LGBT inclusion.”
As you see all the rainbows and think about PRIDE throughout the month, we hope you will think about what part you can play in ensuring inclusion for all in the workplace and throughout our community. If you want some ideas about where to start your reading, check out one of these books at your nearest JCLS branch.
Whitewashing of the Stonewall Riots (Western Oregon University: Digital Commons@WOU, 2017)
Visibility Counts: Corporate Guidelines for LGBT+ Self-ID (Out Leadership, 2019)
Corporate Equality Index 2017: Rating Workplaces on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality (Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2017)
LGBT-Owned Businesses: Stats and Facts (National Center for Business Journalism, 2017)
Why We Remember Stonewall (NPR, 2019)