Ahead of this weekend’s Pride celebration, the Unlimited Group hosted a panel to discuss the history of Pride. It looked at where we’ve come from and where we should be going. Our Account Assistant, Jahanara Chaudhry, sat on the panel to contribute her experiences. Here is her overview of the event and its outcomes.
On Wednesday afternoon the Unlimited Group hosted a panel around Pride. It showcased our Pride in who we are and Pride in our history.
The history of pride
In a packed room, we began by hearing about the history of Stonewall and the reasons Pride exists. Tim Bird, the CEO of Health Unlimited, discussed his experiences of growing up in America as a young gay man. When he was six the Stonewall riots took place. Tim recounted his memories of seeing Marsha P. Johnson, a leader in the riots, at Pride parades and bars. He spoke about being outside the White House. He talked about marching for the rights of all the people who were dying during the AIDS epidemic.
After his very moving speech, the panel held a Q and A around the important role Pride plays. We discussed the history of Stonewall, the ways clients and other corporations work with Pride, both good and bad, and the where Pride is heading in the future.
Why pride still matters
The panel consisted of myself, Brad Pogson (Account Director, Nelson Bostock Unlimited), Eleanore Pratoussy (Account Director, Health Unlimited) and Matt Gharakhanian, (Account Executive, Fever). Tim was on hand to provide extra comments to illustrate our points.
The aim was to help educate the members of the audience on our identities. We wanted to explore some of the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone spoke with passion. It’s what comes from the experience of repeating your story again and again. As you do, when you have to come out to every new person you meet.
We explored a wide range of pertinent topics such as the unnecessary idea of having a Straight Pride, Absolut Vodka’s consistent support for LGBTQ+ causes, and the recent Munroe Bergdorf/NSPCC mishandling.
Though we’ve come a long way since Stonewall, there’s still a lot that needs to be answered for:
- For instance, A group in America recently announced that they were running a so-called ‘Straight Pride’, just a month after Boston’s Pride parade.
- Munroe Bergdorf, a prominent trans female model in the beauty industry, was recently removed from the NSPCC Gender Identity campaign. She has often had her race and trans identity weaponised to suppress her activist voice.
- In London recently, a bisexual woman was attacked on a bus for refusing to kiss her lesbian partner, for the entertainment of the men around them.
We all spoke about what these things mean to us as members of the LGBTQ community. We all agreed that there are many reasons behind these issues – and ultimately it comes down to lack of awareness.
Education and understanding
Attacks and the hate often stem from misunderstanding, internalised hate and an unwillingness to educate oneself. In 2019, the excuse that you are unaware of what is happening around you, or what identities are is no longer acceptable.
We live in the information age. Therefore, you can discover everything you need to and more through the internet. Also, speaking to those who have identities different from your own.
There is no reason why somebody should display their identity and end up being physically harmed. Sexuality is in constant flux; people change and they evolve. Through this panel, we hoped to make sure that this point showed through.
It was a powerful discussion. We all took away a wealth of knowledge. As a panel, we truly hope we helped the audience understand how to be better allies, how to approach issues they are unsure of and that we’re not all that different. Equally, we’re also not all the same.
We must have Pride in our history, and Pride in the struggles that made us as free as we are today, but we must also be wary and know that there are still many, many things to march on for.