PRIDE Month: Loud & Proud

Every year we are reminded of the importance of love in the PRIDE month. Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots, which were the catalyst for the first Pride event – occurred because members of the LGBT community decided to fight back, sparking an uprising that launched a global movement of resistance and revolution. During the PRIDE month we celebrate the diverse sexualities and genders that exist all around the world, but my question is, why do we have to wait for a month to acknowledge and celebrate LGBTQ+ communities?

The LGBTQ+ community has fought very hard for the rights that they have today. But one way or the other, the road is still long and troubling for them because many disparities and discrimination still exist. Homophobic bullying and negative attitudes towards members from the LGBTQ+ community are a reality and as a result have halted the growth of LGBTQ+ individuals to pursue a career in tech. This has also happened because of the stigma that surrounds the Tech Sector that one has to look or behave “a certain” way to fit in. Which again is a myth since technology has everything to do with innovation and one’s mind and not with one’s sexuality or their gender at all. But sadly, the discrimination still exists, and the Tech sector struggles when it comes to diversity and representation from the LGBTQ+ communities.

We sometimes do not realize how harsh our behaviors and beliefs can hit a person on their deepest wounds. The LGBTQ+ community suffers a great deal starting from their childhood to education and making a mark for themselves asking nothing but acceptance and appreciation in return. But the world still discriminates them on their identity, something that they cannot change.

One’s identity is something that is of utmost importance to them, and they should never be made to feel that they are better off without it because honestly, nobody is. We can only make the world a better place to live if we are true to ourselves and we are true to others as well. But the irony is we never accept people the way they are, we love an imaginary perfect version of them that suits ourselves, but we are never comfortable with the reality. Bullying, harassment, hate crimes and discriminations toward genders have existed for as long as anyone can remember but if we still take the years old traditions with us and obey outdated attitudes then it is only us who will be at loss. Society only flourishes when every individual gives their valuable input and is welcomed to work and innovate without the fear of reprisal.

I personally know many people who despite being highly talented struggle to get into employment. Many people hesitate because of slurs, jokes and comments at their workplaces and sometimes leave their jobs or “made to” leave their jobs because of the mental health issues that they are made to go through. 1 in 8 trans employees responding to a Stonewall survey said they had been attacked by a colleague or customer at work. (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/722314/GEO-LGBT-Survey-Report.pdf)

Many people come from different demographic and religious backgrounds where their cultures and religious beliefs have shaped their perception in which they view the world. But one must realize the importance of being human at this point as well for humanity is the biggest religion and the best culture one can follow.

It is extremely important to build workplaces where everyone is welcome to contribute and feels included. Creating a psychologically safe working space for all and having an active engagement can encourage more members of LGBTQ community to join the Northeast Tech sector. This, along with continuous training and support of staff will help in creating a positive atmosphere since no one would want to work in an environment where they are belittled and hurt.

So, while we celebrate Pride in its many guises and enjoy what Pride month has to offer, let us remember that the fight must continue, and we can only succeed if each member of the LGBTQ+ community – and perhaps more importantly our allies – play their part.

By Fareeha Usman

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