Pride 2021: Why being authentic matters

Jasmin Smith, Social Media Coordinator, Khoros Strategic Services

Personal reflection: Why does pride matter?

Growing up in a super traditional Hispanic household, I was never able to really explore my own sexuality without feeling like I was doing something wrong. When I left home, I struggled with the idea of being in the LGBTQ+ community, and conformed to heteronormative relationships solely out of fear.

But when I finally met an accepting group in college, I was allowed to explore freely and learn about my sexuality in a healthy way. I never came out to my family as being a bisexual woman, nor did I ever introduce them to any of my girlfriends. I later fell in love with a man, and again entered a heteronormative relationship. I struggled with this for a while, wondering if it negated my attraction to women and pushed me out of the community.

When we got married, I spoke with him about it and he accepted me wholeheartedly, never judging, and validating my sexuality. Finally, I felt like I could be me, without fear. Working with and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has given me a sense of belonging and even learning that I never had before.

Because of my story, Pride is more than just a month to me. Pride is a representation of me, and people like me, who have found a home in the community. Pride is a feeling of acceptance, a community celebrating their true selves, and a reminder to the world that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not backing down any time soon.

Pride (noun)

Pride Month: 2020 vs. 2021


While COVID-19 impacted daily life, it also impacted the way the LGBTQ+ community celebrated Pride. In-person events and festivities shifted to online events to maintain social distancing protocols. Online efforts increased to help funding for community members suffering during the pandemic, creating virtual celebrations, and running social campaigns in support.
“Together apart” is one of the phrases that, although coined prior to 2020, took on new meaning and new life during lockdown. Families were sharing resources to help their fellow neighbors. Funding for the LGBTQ+ community poured in as community members and allies rallied to help support one another.
While COVID-19 still affects most of the world, certain countries are finding a new sense of normalcy as vaccines roll out. In person parades and gatherings are safer and more accepted than before, and the appetite to celebrate together with the community, friends, and family is stronger than ever.

Online events and virtual live events will continue to occur throughout the month of June this year, but there is an itch many in the community are dying to scratch with in person live events. Large companies are recognizing this and shifting social campaigns to compensate for the needs and wants of the community through expressive Pride collections and specialized gift giving.

Black Lives Matter

With tensions growing after the death of George Floyd, brands began taking a stance against social injustice. This call to action from people across the nation also made its way into Pride. WithJuneteenth landing in the middle of the festivities, Pride organizers took the opportunity to recognize the Black members who identify as LGBTQ+. Brands took to showcasing their Black employees and customers, which many took as a hollow show of faith. In this time, there was a call for companies and organizations to back up their statements with donations and fundraising for the community, as well as making a point to hire more People of Color for higher level positions.
A push for intersectionality amongst the community began, in an effort to advocate for inclusion. Pride 2020 even saw two new colors added to the flag. “Black and brown stripes to represent the diverse intersectionality in the LGQTQ+ community,” said Capital Pride Alliance's Ashley Smith.
With the recent trial of George Floyd’s killer still on many minds, there remains a question about how to incorporate intersectionality during this year's Pride month. Following the events of 2020, there was a big push by many corporations to showcase the diversity in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s also important to note that many brands haveslowed or halted their campaigns following the events in 2020. With slowed or halted campaigns, many are calling out brands that showed up in the moment while it was trendy but seemed to have faltered once it died down.

Intersectionality continues to be at the forefront of the discussion this year. According to the NYC Pride, “Heritage of Pride works toward a future without discrimination where all people have equal rights under the law.”

With popular LGBTQ+ shows like Pose closing out their show during the month of June, and the BLM group showing up for Pride marches, the community’s continued support of intersectionality appears to be front of mind.

Why all of this matters

Okay, so times have changed. Now what? For implementing these learnings in social strategy for companies and corporations, here are a few key takeaways.

1. Don’t rainbow wash

Companies celebrating alongside the LGBTQ+ community is one thing; companies capitalizing on rainbow washing is another. While the ultimate goal is acceptance and celebration, the community wants to see more than just hollow promises and statements without anything to back them up.

2. Tailor your content

When you’re developing marketing content that celebrates Pride month, it’s crucial to understand that the severity of COVID-19 varies significantly from region to region. Creating POVs tailored to your client's specific needs will help increase sensitivity and social awareness. It can also help you understand how to proceed with in-person content and events. While not every brand’s strategy will look the same, a competitor analysis of shifts in social media strategy and the sentiment received could shed light on how to proceed.

3. Recognize intersectionality in every aspect of your strategy

The first step in recognizing intersectionality is showcased in brand content. It is important to recognize that a large showcase of intersectionality all at once, followed by a continuation of “regular” content will be perceived as disingenuous. Instead, weave this recognition of intersectionality into all your content moving forward, such as recognizing important dates, like Juneteenth. Ask yourself the important questions:

  • What other sectors of the community can we feature?

  • Are there voices we’re not amplifying to our fullest abilities?

  • Are we creating content that could speak to multiple sectors of the community?

  • How are we continuing to show up for the community outside of June?

With these strategies, your brand can foster a safe and intersectional space for the community to celebrate Pride Month, as well as garner positive sentiment to your social campaigns. You can learn more about our Strategic Services and talk to an expert on our team here.

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