As with everything in 2020, Pride this year is taking on a new form. Gone are the events, concerts and parades through major cities and, instead, we have a chance for actual change. Off the back of the wide-ranging Black Lives Matter protests comes a sense of urgency and importance; action is stressed over passive support and brands are in the spotlight with consumers asking, “but how are you really supporting the LGBTQ+ community?”.
Intersectionality is the message of Pride 2020. This requires looking through the rainbow and considering the overlap between issues of gender identity, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Only by considering individuals’ experiences of these interdependent systems of discrimination, disadvantage, prejudice and privilege will we be able to better understand where change is needed.
Black Lives Matter protests have helped fuel the focus on lifting the voice of people of colour in the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity and support of the wider BLM movement. For many, the landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender under ‘sex’ has been a huge moment of victory in the fight against conservative attacks on the wider community. It’s also led to protests in the UK over plans to bring in ‘protections’ of ‘female spaces’ as being an attack on the transgender community in the country by the UK government.
This momentum has seen companies across the world reconsider their diversity and inclusion strategies, and a conversation has opened to motivate positive change. Hanover is using this time to educate its staff by highlighting the significant contributions made by people of colour to LGBTQ+ rights and rolling out its own diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Our diversity and inclusion network – IN – raises awareness of issues within the workplace, makes recommendations and puts initiatives in place to address them. At Hanover, we are committed to D&I. Our key areas of focus are hiring, retention and creating an inclusive culture.
The relationship between marching in the Black Lives Matter protests and lobbying governments for LGBTQ+ rights is clear to many, and we recognise our responsibility in working toward progress. As Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender activist who is reported to have thrown the first brick at Stonewall, once said: ‘You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights’.
Here are some other key figures in the movement who we wanted to bring to your attention and pay tribute to:
LADY PHYLL (1974-)
Born in Islington, Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah is a co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride, which “promotes unity and cooperation among all Black people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent, as well as their friends and families, who identify as LGBT+.” She sits on the Trades Union Congress (TUC) race relations committee and is currently a trustee of Stonewall.
Constantly vocal on issues of race, gender, and sexuality, Phyll is a formidable voice in the fight for equality for queer people of colour. She has sat on the Trades Union Congress race relations committee and is currently trustee of Stonewall. Phyll publicly refused an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours.
She is the editor of ‘Sista!’, an anthology of writings by queer women of African/Caribbean descent with a connection to the United Kingdom.
BAYARD RUSTIN (1912-1987)
Many LGBT+ activists have cited the African American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s as inspiration for their own activism. A key behind-the-scenes strategist of that movement was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man. He helped to strengthen Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the SCLC and promoted the philosophy of nonviolence and the practices of nonviolent resistance, which he had observed while working with Gandhi’s movement in India. Rustin was also the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Homosexuality was criminalised in parts of the United States until 2003, so when Rustin was arrested for a homosexual act in 1953 his sexuality was the subject of criticism from other civil-rights leaders. He was attacked as a “pervert” or “immoral influence” by political opponents from segregationists to Black power militants. To avoid such attacks, Rustin served only rarely as a public spokesperson. He usually acted as an influential adviser to civil-rights leaders. In the 1970s, he became a public advocate for gay and lesbian causes. In 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, recognising that he ‘was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay. No medal can change that, but today, we honour Bayard Rustin’s memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.’
MARSHA P. JOHNSON (1945-1992)
Marsha P. Johnson was a black, transgender activist credited with throwing the first bottle at Stonewall. When she first arrived in New York City, she was homeless, and a sex worker. She served the community as a “drag mother”, supporting younger trans homeless youth and later founding the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR).
She was tragically murdered on July 6th, 1992, at the age of 46. Her body was found floating on the Hudson river; police ruled her death as suicide, but that was later disproved.
MUNROE BERGDORF (1987-)
A black trans-woman, model and activist who made history being hired by L’Oreal Paris as a model was later dropped by them in 2018 after comments she made around white supremacy and racism within white culture. During the recent Black Lives Matter protests Bergdorf called out L’Oreal as not standing by their values, when it came to their treatment of her. In response L’Oreal announced it would create a diversity and inclusion board on which Bergdorf would sit.
She’s vocal about trans rights in the UK and globally, working with the Mermaids Gender charity supporting trans youth and their families in the UK.
NEW PRIDE FLAG
The intersectionality focus of Pride 2020 has led to many in the community reflecting on the visualisations of Pride and what they mean. Most notably the Pride rainbow flag. We have seen various updates to this to include both the trans flag and the black and brown stripes to symbolise people of colour. These additions are displayed as an arrow that both adds momentum to show progress and the fight for equality continues as well as it cutting across the LGBTQ+ community, represented by the traditional rainbow flag.