June is Pride Month, an important part of the international calendar that recognises the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) people to reject discrimination, prejudice and violence.
Pride Month was born out of an act of violence and persecution in the United States at a gay nightclub on a June evening in 1969, when homosexuality was still a crime. New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, patrons responded and days of protest ensued.
The Stonewall Riots are considered to be the major turning point in the history of the Gay Rights Movement in the US. On the one year anniversary in 1970, the first Gay Pride march was held in New York. Since then June has been considered Pride Month, with President Obama proclaiming this officially since 2009.
Nearly 50 years on, much progress has been made for LGBTI+ people and their families. Yet prejudice, discrimination, homophobia and violence against the LGBTI+ community still exist, as the world learnt last weekend with the attack at another nightclub in the US.
Forty-nine people were murdered in the mass shooting on Sunday morning at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a place which should have been a safe haven.
While this act of hatred and terror was at the hands of an individual, whose irrational actions and extremist ideology we may never fully understand, there is no doubt that homophobic undercurrents remain in international society.
The need for cultural change and unequivocal acceptance of the rights of LGBTI+ people is imperative if we are to abolish prejudice against LGBTI+ people and their families. And it is change that needs to take place in the home, in schools, in politics, in religion and in the workplace.
In response to tragedies like this, people often ask themselves, “What can I do?”
You can start the change in your workplace, by taking take steps to build safe and supportive environments for all.
DCA has long been committed to building truly inclusive workplaces for LGBTI+ employees everywhere. There is an undeniable business case, as well as a social justice one. Have a look at the LGBTI+ pages on our website or check out Pride in Diversity, a program established in conjunction with DCA to assist Australian employers introduce HR and diversity and inclusion policies to specifically support LGBTI+ employees.
Check in with your friends and LGBTI+ colleagues.
As Annie Wright writes on Upworthy.com, “Tragedies like the Orlando shooting illuminate the fragility and unpredictability of life.” She stresses that it is important to recognise our own vulnerability at times like these, to look after ourselves, to not become isolated, to connect with others and seek support when needed.
Focus on the victims not the murderer.
SBS has a link with the faces of those who lost their lives and suggests flooding social media with their pictures to honour their lives.
Or check out this SBS guide for other ideas.