Pride Parade, São Paulo, Brazil — 2020

Celebrating with Pride

To celebrate Pride, or not to celebrate Pride — that is the question.

When a month like Pride month comes along and you see people and brands splatter rainbow content and imagery all over our timelines, it can feel like… the very same people who have dismissed you and your experiences, mocked you, turned you into a caricature, communicated with you using narrow-minded stereotypical language and approaches, and not taken you seriously because you don’t fit into their perception of “normal”… are now suddenly supportive… because it’s cool. I wasn’t good enough to be seen, respected or celebrated before, and now you are celebrating a major part of my identity?

I’m using my experience as a black female to try to understand and narrate a perspective of some within the LGBTQIA+ community and their conflicted feelings around Pride month. I know I’ll never completely understand and strangely, when it comes to this particular conversation I am extremely privileged… but I think I get it. I have the same conflicted feelings about black history month.

I, personally, am not a fan of the social media band wagon culture. However, in the past year, I’ve started to change my mind on this. Standing in the shadows won’t change things, but taking a visible stand will, and this is exactly what happened at The Stonewall Inn on St Christopher Street, NYC in the early morning hours of 28th June 1969.

Pride did not start as a celebration. It started because a marginalised and mistreated human being decided to push back. There was no premeditated motive behind this action. Someone simply instinctively stood their ground in that moment because they believed they deserved to exist in peace. This stand was the striking of a match that lit thousands of others. I wonder where we would be today if this had not happened?

If one month a year, you feel empowered to celebrate what every other day of the year you have to battle with in some way, get on that bloody soap box and scream at the top of your lungs! If that one month enables you to reflect and stand a little taller, lift your head a little higher, speak a little louder — please take the opportunity. Share your stories, as a brave colleague has done here, because stories are how humans learn and understand best. This is the best way to humanise Pride.

If your voice or your story can cause one person to pause for two seconds… you have made a tangible and invaluable difference.

Regardless of how you choose to approach Pride month, please know: I see you, I hear you, I’m with you and I stand by you — with Pride.

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Lola Oguntokun

Lola Oguntokun

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I help build, shape and champion innovative companies and culture.