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What Does Pride Mean To The Coworking Community?

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When we talk about diversity, inclusion, and equality, it goes beyond just race and gender. It’s Pride Month and we are celebrating our LGBTQ+ peers. 

Speaking to Tash Thomas, Director of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion of the European Coworking Assembly, we got a chance to gage what pride actually means to the coworking community. 

Verbal support is great, however nothing beats being supported loudly and through deeds. What is an ally and how can you become an ally to the LGBTQ+ community? 

The origin of pride

Tash explains that the first Pride was a riot which originated in New York, in 1969. She further elaborates that there was a bar known as the Stonewall Inn, which was dubbed a safe space for homosexual people. Things quickly went south when the Stonewall Inn was raided by the police. 

The raid wasn’t the first, but the members of the lesbian and gay community wanted to make sure it was the last as they felt that enough was enough. It was during this raid that a riot started, led by the infamous Marsha P. Johnson, who is a black transgender woman, and Sylvia Rivera who was her best friend. Essentially, that was the first Pride Parade.

Over the years, Pride has morphed into the Pride we know now which is characterised by lots of flags and lots of amazing costumes. Tash feels that it has somehow lost the sense of protest to it. 

However, during COVID when the world was in lockdown and parties were prohibited, people were forced to question  what pride is about? Why do we celebrate Pride? And where does it come from? And this was definitely a resurrection of its original meaning.

How people make coworking and shared workspaces more inclusive

To most people, Pride is only celebrated in June, and they are of the belief that a rainbow flag on social media is sufficient. The flaw with that practice is that it is not sustainable and the support and representation for the LGBTQ+ community does not shine through all year long, and this applies to coworking spaces as well, Tash explains.

What brands, coworking spaces, and people in general should aim for is to show that they are allies 365 days of the year, not just specifically over June. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but just having a small rainbow flag on your door throughout the year is a great and sustainable way to show your support and to indicate to the LGBTQ+ community that they can be themselves freely and fully in your space.

What is equity and what is quality?

The two are used interchangeably, and they are two different terms, however, people are often confused about what they actually mean. 

Equality refers to a state where we are all given the exact same opportunity. If person A is trying to get from D to E, they’re given the exact same opportunities as the person next to them. 

Equity on the other hand is about taking into consideration everybody’s individual needs. Essentially, equity is about really going a step further in acknowledging that people have individual needs and making sure they have the same opportunity. So, this means that equity should come first which hopefully will lead to equality.

What is an ally?

At the core, an ally is a learner, someone who is open to hearing the experiences and the challenges of other people and understands that their experiences are different to those of other people. 

An ally understands that the challenges faced by people are all different and being open to continuously learning. The key point to remember is to always be an empathetic listener and observer, to refrain from inserting yourself into the narrative. More than anything, being an ally is about amplifying and advocating for others.

Connect with Tash

Link up with Tash on LinkedIn and on Breaking the Distance where she and her fiancé have compiled plenty of blogs around specifically LGBTQ+ rights, life, and challenges.

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