Why we need Pride now more than ever

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Stonewall riots, which saw members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersexual and Allies/Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community rebel against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, in the early hours of the 28th June 1969. Naturally then, this year has seen considerable focus on this pivotal moment in history, specifically within Pride season (which spans the summer globally).

While we have a great deal to celebrate and be proud of thus far, in terms of societal movements and accomplishments for equal rights within the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important to remember how far we still have to go to truly achieve equality. ‘Pride’ can be a complex time of year for members of the aforementioned community. Some have a fantastic relationship with their personal sexuality and their position in the world; however, unfortunately for many, it is less of a celebratory period and more of an obligatory pressure they cannot escape.

Within the built environment sector, Pride hasn’t always been something to shout loud and proud about. Unfortunately (and I know most FM professionals will agree with me here) the truth of the matter is that the FM and property world hasn’t always been the most diverse of sectors. But thankfully, due to a number of different factors, this has started to change. This is thanks to the likes of societal change, compulsory LGBTQIA+ sex and relationship education in schools and (specifically in relation to our sector) the LGBT+ in FM committee group – which I have recently joined myself as a PR and communications coordinator.

The objectives of this group are simple. We want to act as a support for those who need it; a voice for those who want to be heard; and a vehicle for creating opportunities to implement change. Numerous large corporates within FM now have dedicated teams that support and work towards diversity, inclusion and support for minority communities, and we are working alongside these groups to amplify these objectives. We are passionate about driving a societal shift, both in and out of work, which we are working to achieve through marching in iconic Pride parades (this year we marched in London as a 140+ strong team), hosting networking and support events and helping provide guidance for companies wishing to better support their LGBTQIA+ staff.

Despite the progress made over half a century, the fight for equality is far from over. Homophobic hate crimes in the UK have doubled since 2014. 12 trans individuals have been killed in the U.S. this year alone just for expressing their true identity, and a staggering 35% of people surveyed were found to have hidden their sexuality from the workplace out of ‘fear of discrimination’. This is why we need Pride more than ever. And yes, you can support the movement, regardless of your sexuality or identity. With the ‘A’ in ‘LGBTQIA+’ standing for ‘allies’, it truly does mean that anyone can be involved in the action of supporting the community.

So, if you’re attending a Pride event this year, or want to support a friend in the community, make sure you have done your research, you know the history of Pride, and are getting involved for all the right reasons. We’ve achieved a fantastic amount in our fight for equality thus far, but we’ve got long way to go yet.

Ben Keeley