Last week I promised to up my blogging game – and what better reason than to turn the spotlight on what will hopefully be the biggest ever Fujitsu presence at a Pride event. Yes, it’s Pride season and I’m off to Manchester where there’s an entire weekend of Pride activities campaigning for equality and challenging discrimination; aiming to create opportunities for engagement, participation and acceptance, and celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) life.
One of the best ways of celebrating is watching – or even participating in – a Pride parade. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of walking through the middle of a busy city on streets that have been closed to traffic, with thousands upon thousands of people cheering you along from the sides in a cacophony of sound – it’s an electric atmosphere!
Of course, pride parades have their roots in protest marches. For many years, LGBT+ people have been, and continue to be, overtly ostracized and excluded by society, and pride marches were, and still are, an opportunity to protest and give voice to that community. In some countries, pride parades are still predominantly a protest at the massive injustices that continue to exist against LGBT+ people. In Manchester, as with many other Pride events, there are a number of intentions. Typically, it’s a combination of highlighting where injustices and inequality of treatment of LGBT+ people continue to exist, as well as an opportunity to say thank you to those who have previously achieved positive change. In countries like the UK, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the increasing acceptance of LGBT+ people in society and at work.
What should you expect from a Pride parade?
Typically, they are eclectic mix of floats along with people simply marching with banners, representing groups from youth-based and national charities, and a wide array of social groups for LGBT+ people, such as sports teams and choirs. You will also see participation from political parties, and from businesses that are proud to show their support and acceptance of LGBT+ people. Of course, you can expect an eye-opening range of outfits and messages to take on board too!
I’ve watched many Pride marches over the years in many countries, and had the privilege to take part in Pride marches in London and Manchester representing Fujitsu for the last few years – alongside colleagues from our Shine networking group, which is for LGBT+ people at Fujitsu. In Toronto, I participated with Air Canada, and in Jerusalem last year, I was with the US Mission. Fujitsu has also been represented this year at Pride events in Vienna, Lisbon and Helsinki, as well as in Costa Rica.
As well as the fun, the sights and the sounds, and the shared experience of thousands of people celebrating diversity, there is a serious side to Pride: they bring together people from different backgrounds. You’ll see families, groups of friends, colleagues, people with disabilities, a mix of races and ethnicities, and people from all kinds of different backgrounds all choosing their own way to express themselves and their identity. It’s empowering.
Not only that but Pride is also a mouthpiece for LGBT+ people and their allies. The sad reality is that LGBT+ people are not yet fully accepted without prejudice in society and the workplace anywhere in the world. That’s also the case for many other people – for example those who are not part of the dominant race or ethnicity, people with disabilities, and women.
Like Fujitsu, many organizations are now getting involved in Pride. Not only is it an opportunity to connect with people in society, we’re also sending a message to those who are thinking about which company they’d like to work for. We are showing how we recognize and support LGBT+ people.
Pride events are a fantastic opportunity to show people they are not alone – regardless of how they are treated due to their sexual orientation or gender identity – helping people who are perhaps struggling to come to terms with who they are to really find themselves, and flourish.
The events are also fun for all the family – taking the stigma and potential awkwardness out of the subject by providing a wonderful opportunity for children of all ages to see LGBT+ people, and where appropriate, to have conversations about what it actually means to be LGBT+.
If you’re part of Pride in Manchester this weekend, I’ll see you there – and if you are still unsure whether taking part – or even watching a Pride event is really for you, then look no further than these pictures of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, taking part in the Toronto Pride march in June. Clearly, he had quite a fabulous time – so much that he’s planning to take part in another Pride, this Sunday in Ottawa!