These five learnings from Streetbees’ Pride Month will inspire you to be a better LGBTQ+ ally
Since when did LGBTQ+ allyship become simply changing your logo to a rainbow or telling people you’re an ally? Never, that’s when!
Real LGBT+ allyship starts by developing a true self-awareness of your own privileges, and understanding how the world views and treats this community. Then putting in the work.
That’s why this Pride Month, I was proud to see Streetbees’ Diversity and Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility and Events Culture Champs do just that - by curating a month long calendar to help the team become better allies.
As a white cis female in marketing, the series particularly enhanced my understanding of what it means to be a LGBTQ+ ally in the workplace. Especially around how to run more authentic marketing campaigns around diversity and inclusion, where much more work needs to be done in many businesses.
With that in mind, here’s my non-exhaustive list of takeaways from the events put on by Streetbees’ Culture Champs. I hope these reflections help inspire you to work harder to be a better LGBTQ+ ally.
Your education is up to you and no-one else
The first step to being a better ally starts with taking responsibility for self-education. Lucky for us at Streetbees, our Culture Champs gave us the tools to do so, by setting up workshops with Media Producer for UK Black Pride Sadie Sinner, and Human Rights Activist Dan Glass. Each session educated us on a range of topics, including how queer bodies of colour have been “Othered” from the LGBTQ+ narrative, and institutional homophobia. These sessions reminded me that we should never stop furthering our own education. There are an infinite number of perspectives and narratives to listen to - the learning will never stop.
Pay critical attention to the media you consume
A big focus for this year’s Pride at Streetbees was around how to deconstruct and de-colonise the media we consume. In a session on decolonising queer literature with Gayathiri Kamalakanthan, we read and heard queer poets of colour explore language can - and perhaps can’t - fully express. In another session guest speaker Dr Varuna Srinivasan helped us deconstruct some of our favourite shows by applying “queer theory” to them, to help us understand how they form our perception of the world. These sessions were reminders to decolonise our media choices by enjoying more art by black, brown and indiginous LGBTQ+ artists, as well as being more critically aware of the harmful stereotypes that are reinforced (both overtly and subconsciously) in popular culture.
Lose the ego: just listen and learn
While we shouldn’t expect the LGBTQ+ community to explain everything for us (that’s why self-education is the first step), lucky for us at Streetbees we had two LGBTQ+ members of our team shared their personal advice with the company on how to be a better ally, as well as a facilitated discussion with Dr Varuna Sirinvasan around the intersection of sexuality and anti-racism. Both events created a safe space for some of our people to share how their intersectional identities influenced the way they view sex. For me, this was an opportunity to shut up and learn from my peers.
Accept you’ll make mistakes - then talk anyway
It’s totally normal to be scared of saying the wrong thing. In fact, I can confidently say every single one of us has made mistakes or said something harmful at some point in our lives. But being a better ally is about holding your hands up and admitting that. Then as long as you follow the first two steps - to self-educate and listen - you’ll become more comfortable speaking up. In the case of the LGBTQ+ community, a big example here is learning to use pronouns. During the week our facilitators asked us to be mindful of referring to the LGBTQ+ community as they/them. This was a great way to practise getting comfortable with being uncomfortable when contributing to discussions.
Redistribute your privilege by donating to the cause
One thing I’m conscious of working in tech (one of the most funded industries in the world) is how much of a privilege that really is. One easy way to redistribute that privilege is by donating to causes. This Pride, our culture champs helped us do that, by voting to fundraise for AKT (the Albert Kennedy Trust): a charity supporting homeless LGBTQ+ young people. With one in four homeless young people identifying as LGBTQ+, and 77% believing coming out to their parents was the main factor, we felt this was a strong way to show our allyship. You can donate here.
Pride isn’t a fixed period of time - the work and learning is a year round responsibility. I hope this inspires you to be a better LGBTQ+ ally.
Thanks again to our incredible Culture Champions for organising Pride Month on top of their day jobs: Zehra Odunayo (Strategic Client Partner), Emilie Hood (Data Processing Manager), Manasa Shetty (Research Manager), Gavin Harcourt (DevOps Manager), Katya Lukina (Quality & Process Improvement Manager), Ian Duncan Magee (Associate Client Strategist) Shani Mirwis (Graphic Design Lead), Sarah O Reilly (Client Growth).