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Pride Month and Why it Matters

A short and gay essay on the intersection of Pride and tech
By Lilly Chen

For Pride month 2023, we chose to honor the trans community with our company logo. This blog post will explain the history of Pride and how it intersects with capitalism, especially in the tech industry.

What is Pride month?

Pride month commemorates the Stonewall riots, a series of protests by the gay community in response to constant police raids of gay bars in New York City. These protests were largely organized by trans women and people of color. However, early Pride marches excluded the very groups that started the movement.

Today, Pride marches in most US cities are relatively peaceful affairs that welcome people of all sexualities, genders, ages, and ethnicites. Cities paint crosswalks into rainbows, Pride flags visibly hang from apartments and coffee shops, and social media logos all turn into rainbow variations.

Why do corporations celebrate Pride?

Corporations started celebrating Pride month because it was a way to increase business. If LGBT people were originally only spending their nightlife dollars at a gay bar, celebrating Pride opened up a new consumer base. This is mostly a win-win as LGBT lifestyles became more normalized and corporations made more money. The main criticism to this is when corporations celebrate Pride, but make a political donation to anti-LGBT groups.

Overall, corporations celebrating Pride is a good thing because they address the workplace. Gay men earn 10% to 32% less than similarly qualified heterosexual men. The statistics are even worse for transgender folks. Convenience samples of the transgender population find that 6%-60% of respondents report being unemployed, and 22-64% of the employed population earns less than $25,000 per year.

Why should a tech company care about Pride?

The tech industry is one of the few industries where workers can make long-term social mobility gains. Compared to other similar industries such as law, medicine, and accounting, it also requires significantly less formal education. Tech jobs are also accessible to people with disabilities, since most people can work from a desk and technologies such as screen readers, translators, and one-handed keyboards have become easy to use.

While there’s very little reason for a B2B SaaS company to charter a float for a Pride march, I do think tech companies should make it publicly, visibly known that they support Pride. In 2023, we already have a record-breaking number (currently at 558 bills, compared to 278 in 2022) of anti-trans legislation. While some states are working to rip apart trans rights to medical care and workplace protections, tech companies remains an industry that can do something about it.

After Roe v Wade fell, many tech companies said they would continue to support their employees who needed access to reproductive care, including out-of-state travel. It’s not a perfect system, and by no means should access to basic healthcare be limited to tech workers. But if governments choose not to protect these rights, the tech industry has the ability to provide that care.

Ways tech companies can support trans folks

  1. Offer health insurance plans that include gender-affirming care. In America, private health insurance is the main way people can receive gender-affirming care in a cost effective way. Being able to regularly take testorone or estrogen is a life saving medicine for trans folks.

  2. Don’t assume someone’s pronouns. Everyone is in a different place with transitioning, and not everyone has to formally transition. There are also several different ways someone can transition, from hormones to voice training to top/bottom surgeries. A trans person doesn’t need to do all of them, or any of them. Just ask someone what pronouns and name they would like to use.

There are plenty of other things tech companies can do, especially bigger companies. Those might include affinity groups, relocation packages, and internal company mentor matching. If you’re a startup, try to do at least these two things. If you can do more, great!

Thanks for reading this gay essay. In approximately 8 days, my month will be over and I will hear your criticism then. Good day.