The first LGBT+ Pride march, coordinated by the late bisexual activist Brenda Howard, took place in the streets of New York City on June 28, 1970. This event marked the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when the LGBT+ community clashed with law enforcement following a number of police raids at the Stonewall Inn and surrounding gay bars.
Since this turning point in LGBT+ history, the movement has spread across the globe in support of the riots' original mission: civil rights for the LGBT+ community. Currently, nearly 60 Pride parades take place in June and July across various countries around the world as part of LGBT+ Pride Month celebrations.
Pride in London’s theme for 2018’s LGBT+ Pride Month is "Pride Matters", so we asked Wood Mackenzie LGBT+ employees and allies what Pride means to them and why it’s so important in today’s society.
We celebrate Pride once a year, but we live it every day.
Wai-Fung Thompson, EVP Human Resources: "Pride can be a place of solace and safety for those LGBT+ individuals who don’t feel comfortable expressing their identities, through fear of discrimination, abuse, and even physical violence. Pride also seeks to educate and create awareness, two things that are instrumental in challenging ignorance."
Fernando Araya, Head of EMEARC Metals Research: "Pride matters because I see it as an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come and also to reflect on how much we still need to do. Coming from Chile, I encountered a very different reality when it came to LGBT+ rights; not being able to get married, which I can and am doing now, as well as experiencing bullying for being gay. This has helped me to appreciate diversity and acceptance even more. I celebrate Pride because I want to spread the message that things can and do get better. Even in the more restrictive countries, equality and progress is on the horizon for the LGBT+ community."
Wood Mackenzie is the first company I have worked for that openly supports LGBT+ employees.
Laura Hindley, Global PR Manager: “2017 marked 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK and three years since the UK voted to legalise same-sex marriage. We have LGBT+ icons such as Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, and Audre Lorde (among many others) to thank for the progress we have made but, unfortunately, we are constantly reminded the worldwide battle for true equality is far from over. Currently, 72 countries still have anti-homosexuality laws in place. Whether you view Pride as a celebration, a protest, or something in between, it’s important to march for those who cannot."
Salmon Lee, Principal Consultant: "Life for LGBT+ people in the Chinese-speaking world is varied. I am lucky in the sense that I live in a cosmopolitan city like Singapore, as homosexuality is not frowned upon by the population at large. However, even in "progressive" Singapore, there are explicit laws prohibiting homosexual sex acts. But, on the flip side, there are laws in Taiwan that recognise same-sex marriage, while Hong Kong and communist China repealed anachronistic anti-gay laws a long time ago. Pride is important because it shows that love between two hearts truly knows no colour, age, social status or gender."
Being an ally isn’t all about campaigning or marching. It’s about the day-to-day – speaking up for a colleague overlooked in a meeting, listening carefully, making an effort to understand others’ experiences and problems.
Leslie Cook, Principal Analyst: "We celebrate Pride once a year, but we live it every day. Pride is a constant reminder of how far I have walked out of shadows and into a world where I am visible. As a young girl coming of age in the early 80's, openly identifying as a lesbian was not yet acceptable in my home town. When I entered the oil and gas industry, 15 years ago, I was already living an openly gay personal life but continued to struggle with the fear of not being accepted as an equal professionally. Women in general are still grappling with being acknowledged as true equals in corporations, but change is emerging."
Julianna Arnim, Senior Specialist – Content: "For me, Pride is a joyful celebration of not just our friends and loved ones, but also of individuals all across the world for being exactly who they are. It's also a reminder of the struggles the LGBT+ community has overcome, and the battles they are still fighting. As an ally, it's my privilege, quite literally, to join in those fights. Participating in Pride means promoting equality under the law, encouraging acceptance within our communities, and most of all, practicing transcendent love."
Pride is an opportunity for myself and family, friends and colleagues, to celebrate diversity in all forms.
James Devine, Director – Vendor Management: "Pride matters more than ever. We have made enormous and, at times, hard-fought progress within our lifetimes. Pride helps us openly celebrate our collective joy at this progress, however we acknowledge there is still much to do. Pride provides a visible and necessary platform for highlighting, educating, and campaigning on these issues at a macro and micro-level."
Ann Lee, Senior PR Manager:" Pride, to me, is about progress in humanity. The more we openly acknowledge and discuss LGBT+ challenges, the more acceptance, love and peace there will be in the world. Wood Mackenzie is the first company I have worked for that openly supports LGBT+ employees. That means it doesn’t matter who you are. Instead, what matters is your character, your work ethic and what you can do to help the business grow."
Pride also seeks to educate and create awareness, two things that are instrumental in challenging ignorance.
Anthea Pitt, Director – Global PR: "In my home state of Queensland, homosexuality was illegal until I was in my early 20s; discrimination protections were not enshrined in law until 2002. It took so long to rectify these inequalities, in part because they were considered “gay issues”. A straight ally can help push LGBT+ issues into the mainstream. Being an ally isn’t all about campaigning or marching. It’s about the day-to-day – speaking up for a colleague overlooked in a meeting, listening carefully, making an effort to understand others’ experiences and problems, and joining the LGBT+ community to work for change."
Pride is important because it shows that love between two hearts truly knows no colour, age, social status or gender.
Michel Muylle, Director: "As on openly gay man, Pride is an opportunity for myself and family, friends and colleagues, to celebrate diversity in all forms. Having lived and worked in many countries and cultures, diversity has become an integral part of my human DNA and I cherish it in all aspects of my life. While we have made great strides in support of diversity and the LGBT+ community in particular, it remains that we are still at risk of discrimination by individuals, by corporations as well as by many institutions. Pride provides us with a opportunity to visibly and publicly celebrate our diversity."
It’s a way to celebrate how far we’ve come, while also recognising that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Jackie Wilks, Executive Manager (Thrive Program): "To me, Pride is about visibility and creating a sense of belonging and community. It’s a way to celebrate how far we’ve come, while also recognising that there is still a lot of work to be done. 62 percent of LGBT+ graduates in the UK who are already out to friends and family go back into the closet once they enter the job market. So we need to keep showing our support, as a company and as individuals."
Wood Mackenzie Pride will be marching in the Houston Pride parade on 23rd June and in the London Pride parade on 7th July.