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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

More than rainbows: Why Pride continues to matter

Despite progress, millions face discrimination. Let's celebrate diversity and fight for a world where everyone is free to be themselves.

Why do we still need pride? Didn't gay people get everything they ever wanted? Is it just an excuse to prance around the streets in flamboyant clothes and show off? What is with this rainbow flag being everywhere? The fact is, we still have a long way to go.

There are 195 countries in the world, and only 37 of them recognise gay marriage. In 64, homosexuality is still illegal, and in 11, they torture and kill you if you're gay. In the countries where it is legal to be gay, hate crimes are still widespread and have increased over the past few years. Gay people are just one part of the LGBTQIA+ community and are now more accepted in some places, which means that the hate is directed at other parts of the queer community, mostly at the trans, drag, and nonbinary communities. Hate, lies, and misinformation are directed at them. Every single day, which makes their lives extremely difficult. We want to support all queer people, and so we stand with them so they, too, can have the rights and the freedoms that they deserve.

This is why we still need pride.

The LGBTQIA + community only makes up around 5% of the world's population, and some gay people may have more rights and privileges than before in some countries. Still, we are a long way away from global acceptance and equality. No one chooses to be gay. Why would anyone choose to live with the constant threat of violence and victimisation? We are here, we have always been here, and trying to deny our existence has never worked. Yet it's only in the past few decades that some countries have acknowledged this and begun to give us the rights we deserve.

Gay people wish they didn't need pride. They wish they could hold their partner's hand in public and not feel nervous. They wish they could travel to different countries, secure in the knowledge that their marriage is universally recognised. They wish they didn’t get homophobic comments on social media, and they wish no child would have to go through what others have experienced just for being who they are. Can you imagine what it must be like for a young gay man somewhere like Somalia? You don't have to understand the LGBTQIA+ community, but you do have to accept that we are human beings and deserve the same rights as everyone else.

The gay community has fought for years for the pride flag. It's bright, it's bold, it's colourful, but it also symbolises all the millions of people who were persecuted and killed just for being queer. It's a constant reminder that we must never stop fighting for the same rights and freedom for everyone.

Acronyms explained:

Do you ever find yourself wondering what all the letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym mean? Let's get comfortable with the acronyms. The most common acronym is LGBTQIA+ and this stands for:

L - Lesbians are women who are attracted only to women.

G – Gay men who are only attracted to men.

B - Bisexual people who are attracted to people of the same gender or the opposite gender.

T - Transgender or people who identify as the opposite sex than the one that they were assigned to at birth.

Q – Queer is an umbrella term for everyone who's not straight. It covers people who are gender fluid and non-binary. Non-binary refers to people whose gender identities fall outside of the regular male or female, which is gender binary right now. Gender fluid refers to someone whose gender identity changes over time.

Queer covers more than just these kinds of people. It also covers people who are gender apathetic or those who really don't care about their gender, and you can use whatever pronouns on them, and it won't make a difference.

I – Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe people who are born with both male and female reproductive organs or have variations in chromosomes that mean they do not fit into a gender of either ‘male’ or ‘female.

A – Love doesn’t equal sex. An asexual person (Ace for short) usually experiences very little to no sexual attraction towards others. They can still feel romantic desire and seek out relationships, but they tend not to want to act on these desires sexually. This is all on a spectrum – one person who identifies as asexual may feel very different levels of sexuality compared to another. 

+ – Stands for everyone else who may not have been covered by the LGBTQIA. The plus is your friend. When you see a “+” at the end of the series of letters, that’s the easy way of saying, “There are a lot more people out there, so here’s to them.

Now you know the meaning of LGBTQIA+. This pride month and every month of every year, we encourage everyone to listen and understand people regardless of orientation!

Graham Garrard is Head of Operations and LGBTQIA+ Champion at Henley Business School Africa

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