Since 2016, June has been officially recognized as Pride Month in Canada. Pride Month celebrates 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and often centres around large public gatherings, such as the world-famous Pride parades. Dozens of Canadian cities host Pride parades or other Pride events to show their support for Canada’s 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Toronto’s last big pride parade, in 2019, brought together over 1 million people and Montreal’s week-long pride festival attracted 3.4 million attendees.
This year, much like last year, many in-person Pride events have been cancelled or reimagined as virtual events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, there are signs of light on the horizon, with vaccination rates ramping up significantly in Canada. However, with most Canadians still only receiving their first dose, we haven’t yet reached the point where large gatherings are safe, and it’s unlikely we’ll reach that milestone by the end of this year’s Pride month, though 2022 is looking hopeful! The takeaway from all of this is that taking precautions, such as wearing masks, physical distancing, and attending virtual events instead, will remain critical to celebrate Pride safely in 2021.
Though Canadians aren’t able to get together to celebrate Pride in person, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate and show your support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and reinforce your organization’s commitment to supporting your 2SLGBTQIA+ employees.
join virtual pride events
In the absence of in-person events, many Pride events are going virtual. Toronto Pride, for example, has launched a virtual pride portal where Canadians can go to celebrate during Pride month. They’re hosting virtual events such as a flag raising event with city officials, Pride history lessons, trivia nights and panel discussions on issues that impact the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. All of these celebrations are happening on public platforms such as zoom. Everyone is welcome to attend, and doing so is free. If your team is missing out on your annual Pride celebrations, why not bring your enthusiasm online and support 2SLGBTQIA+ communities digitally?
use your intranet
Most workplaces have an intranet portal where employees can connect with one another and receive company news updates. Consider creating a community to serve as a virtual gathering place for your employees to celebrate Pride. Have your CEO or other leaders share a video message of support on behalf of the company, and encourage employees to share videos, photos and stories related to Pride. You can start a thread for employees to share their favourite book by a 2SLGBTQIA+ author, or organize a team viewing of a 2SLGBTQIA+ themed movie. Just because you can’t celebrate in-person together, doesn’t mean you can’t create a sense of community!
share 2SLGBTQIA+ stories and voices
Pride month is a perfect time to share stories from 2SLGBTQIA+ employees and amplify the voices of people who are part of the community. You may not be able to show your support by attending events in person, but you can amplify the voices of 2SLGBTQIA+ employees and customers and make sure they reach as many people as possible. If you have employees who are interested in sharing their experiences and what Pride month means to them, or how your company has had a positive impact on their personal journey, ask them if they’re interested in sharing their thoughts on your social media or with their colleagues on your intranet.
create visibility online
Visibility is a huge part of Pride. Parades that draw massive, record-breaking crowds matter because visibility leads to greater acceptance, understanding and normalization of marginalized communities. So make your support loud and clear in a public way. In this time of physical distancing, creating visibility can be done on social media. It can be as simple as posting a celebratory message on your social media platforms and encouraging your employees to share it, creating a Pride background for your meetings, or inviting employees to take part in a Pride-themed photo challenge to spread positive messages online.
emphasize 2SLGBTQIA+ safe spaces
People who are part of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities are more at risk of depression and other mental health issues and are more likely to be targets of hate and harassment. In this day and age, most companies have a strict zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind, including harassment based on sexual orientation or gender. However, it never hurts to reinforce these policies and make it clear that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable in your workplace. If you have resources or counselling available for employees, you can also highlight them. Though counselling and support services should be available all year, Pride is an excellent time to remind everyone that they always have access to judgment-free support, even during this period of physical distancing.
give back to local 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations
During Pride, consider partnering with local charities and nonprofits that serve the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. They are experts in the space and will be able to help your company determine the most effective and authentic way to support the community. The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted people in marginalized communities, including 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Actively choosing to support 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations during Pride is especially meaningful, and can have a measurable impact that improves lives. Whether you choose to donate money or have your employees contribute their time through virtual volunteering or providing your services free-of-cost, there are lots of opportunities to give back.
Though Pride month may not be able to return to the boisterous celebrations of years past quite yet, there are lots of ways to show support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community virtually that respect the importance of physical distancing. Though COVID-19 may be keeping us apart physically, we can continue to build up our local communities and support one another in these difficult times.