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Pride and Protest

Ben Delk | Inclusion & Diversity, Expedia Group

If you look around—at least in digital and commercial spaces—you’ll notice that we are in the middle of what is generally recognized as Pride month. The concept of Pride and its celebration is—and should be—honored year-round but during the month of June, many companies emblazon their corporate logos with rainbow patterns, LGBTQIA+ non-profits host a wide variety awareness panels and fundraising events, and, under typical circumstances, some of the largest global Pride Parades are marching in cities around the world. However, the year 2020 has not been typical. Our world is painfully adjusting to new realities shaped by an unprecedented pandemic and our Black communities alongside their allies are demanding justice against the deadly forces of systemic racism. Amid all the pain, exhaustion, and turmoil, many are asking: How do we create space for Pride? 

Amid all the pain, exhaustion, and turmoil, many are asking: How do we create space for Pride? 

The answer is rooted in the origin of the movement. The modern concept of Pride is considered to have been born out of the Stonewall riots back in the summer of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Tensions turned into violence following a series of police raids on the surrounding LGBTQIA+ community. The rebellion was led by two trans women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie, a queer woman of color, who sought justice against police brutality and demanded acceptance in a society that largely rejected equality for the LGBTQIA+ community. 50 years later during one of the most tumultuous years on record, it is our duty to honor the legacy of the queer women of color before us and carry on in this same fight today. 

Marsha P. Johnson (left) and Sylvia Rivera (right) leading protests at Gay Pride Parade New York City in 1973. Art by Gary LeGault.

Part of the fight is recognizing how far we’ve come. Many would consider joy and celebration to be critical pieces on the path to progress for LGBTQIA+ and intersectional equality. Since Pride last year, we celebrated the passage of marriage equality in Costa Rica and Taiwan, Germany banned “conversion therapy” for minors, Chile implemented a Gender Identity Law for the transgender community, and recently, the US Supreme Court granted federal protection in the workplace for sexual orientation and gender identity following the efforts such as the Equality Act and a landmark Amicus Brief supported by hundreds of organizations including Expedia Group, who signed and championed both and more. However, we must anchor our celebration in reality knowing that still nearly 100 countries around the world criminalize LGBTQIA+ people in some form and the Queer community faces homicide and suicide rates that are disproportionately high, higher still for the trans community, and higher still for the Black trans community. Our work is far from done. Drawing from history at Stonewall, we continue to protest in solidarity with our Black community and all people of color who still remain victims to racism even inside the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Rather than positioning them as opposing forces, we choose to think about Pride and Protest as symbiotic fuel for the other. 

TRANS & PROUD: Black Trans Lives Matter

As we carry through this month and the end of the year, we at Expedia Group have reflected on the forces around us and how we can move forward in celebration and protest on behalf of the communities we support. Rather than positioning them as opposing forces, we choose to think about Pride and Protest as symbiotic fuel for the other. Pride was born out of protest and the outcomes of protest give us cause for Pride. We commit to supporting both efforts by advocating for our historically oppressed communities and have shared a few ways below in which you and your business can too. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what we have done or all that anyone should do, and we recognize that we still have a long way to go, but we hope you can leverage some of these resources to join us in creating needed change.  Even though our attempts will sometimes be flawed and our words remain imperfect, we must move forward with action driven by the fundamental belief that human rights are equally and universally applied to all identities. We hope that you will join us by continuing to shape your workforce to be in service of a more equitable society. 

Protesters gather in Singapore during Pink Dot 2014

Host a Virtual Pride 

Since we aren’t physically together, Expedia Group worked with our LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) called Pride to create a toolkit that supports our regional chapters as they host a series of Virtual Prides around the world. We invite you to participate in your own Virtual Pride by creating and uploading videos internally or sharing on social media. Included in some of our videos, employees are sharing what Pride means to them, experiences while traveling as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and what makes our allies so passionate about equality. Virtual Pride creates a space where all are welcome to join—consider participating as an office, as a working team, an ERG chapter, or on your own. Pride values all ways of engaging and we look forward to protesting injustice and celebrating progress with you. 

Tip: We suggest reaching out to your Executive team to encourage participation. We took this approach at Expedia Group and, in response, our entire Executive team has shared photos and videos featuring them celebrating Pride in their own way. 

Pride values all ways of engaging and we look forward to protesting injustice and celebrating progress with you.

Participate in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index 

Each year HRC hosts a US benchmarking initiative called the Corporate Equality Index which helps companies evaluate and improve policies and practices pertaining to its LGBTQIA+ employees. For four consecutive years, Expedia Group has scored a perfect 100 and we are thankful for the guidance from HRC to aid us in understanding and continually improving workforce equality for all our employees. We recommend joining the 1,059 businesses from all industries by contacting HRC to participate. 

Invest in your communities 

We have two main communities who support LGBTQIA+ equality at Expedia Group including our Pride ERG and our recently established Transgender and Gender-nonconforming Inclusion Advisory Council (TGNC IAC). These groups are comprised of volunteers who dedicate their time, expertise, and experience to supporting our Inclusion & Diversity work in both advisor and practitioner capacity. If your company doesn’t already have these communities, consider carving out a professional role to support their growth and development. Find volunteers who are passionate and help them create a system of goals and governance to organize their members and educate allies on how they can get involved. Our communities have assembled tremendous resources to help our employees find a means for support, connect with each other, and educate the company on how to amplify these efforts. We are so grateful for these many contributions and to sustain future progress, we have found a way to integrate Inclusion and business goals by sponsoring a new policy that officially allows our global ERG leaders to dedicate 10% of their working hours to leading each of our seven global ERGs. However, if you’re just not sure where to begin, simply start with an expression of acknowledgment and gratitude

Ben with a friend in Atlanta, GA

Build Inclusion with your partners 

We could not create an inclusive travel ecosystem across the world without our trusted partners: organizations of hotels, airlines, vacation rentals, and more. Together with our travel partners, we focus on creating an inclusive end-to-end travel experience for the LGBTQIA+ community in which they feel safe and empowered. Expedia Group created a collection of travel resources which features LGBT Destinations across our sites, platforms, and partners. We encourage you to also look to your partner ecosystem and galvanize support in empowering your LGBTQIA+ employees and customers. 

Educate yourself 

Fill your physical and digital surroundings with educational content that pushes you to become a more informed ally. Knowledge is power and with constant education on how structural oppression is manifested, you will find ways to help transfer power to communities who have long been oppressed. Take inventory of the media and conversations that you consume and assess how often diverse voices are included. Some great resources—and personal favorites—for getting started are Ellen McGirt’s raceAhead daily newsletter from Fortune and “Still Processing,” a podcast produced by two self-identified Black queer writers for the New York Times, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. Our Pride ERG recommends a fantastic Pride Reading List, these documentaries, and the recently released Disclosure detailing the history and representation of the trans community in TV and film. For a broader collection of resources, the Expedia Group Inclusion and Diversity Team has curated these guides

Get out the vote

Pride flag being carried at first-ever Pride March in Hyderabad, India 2018

It’s no secret that many critical and immensely consequential elections are occurring in 2020. If there was ever a time to take your protest to the polls—it’s now. This is your opportunity to lift your voice, advocate for your values, and vote for candidates who represent diversity and offer concrete plans to accelerate equality. If you are able, take time off during Election day (where/when applicable) so you can exercise your voice to uplift those who continue to face structural oppression. If you can’t make it to the polls, research alternative voting options such as mail-in ballots that are offered in your jurisdiction. Call out voter suppression methods designed to disenfranchise BIPOC communities by writing to your state and local representatives. If you are unable to vote, assist voters in getting to the polls, share what issues matter most to you, canvass or fundraise for candidates that stand for justice, and help others register to vote. Afterall, voting is perhaps the most powerful form of protest.  

Donate to intersectional causes 

Your time and volunteer hours are critically important, but funds empower social justice non-profit organizations to reach broader audiences and serve their communities in a much greater capacity. The LGBTQIA+ movement was initiated by queer and trans people of color and has been sustained by organizations working for liberation, safety, and equity on the frontlines. Continue to empower them with your Pride and Protest. Our Pride ERG recommends supporting The Audre Lorde Project and National Black Justice Coalition—two non-profits who support intersectional identities. 

Pride was born out of protest and the outcomes of protest give us cause for Pride. 

Wave your flag 

This is meant in both the figurative and literal senses. Countries, organizations, and communities create flags that symbolize their collective values and embody a shared identity. Throughout much of human history flags have often been the symbols we look to that visually summarize our cause and unify a body of people around it. The Pride flag has a long history and over the years new flags have been designed to represent all identities across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum with recent versions incorporating black, brown, and trans colors to be fully inclusive—an homage to Pride’s origin. Whether you’re an ally or community member, be sure to wave your flag proudly

Ben in Austin, TX

And finally, to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, wear your colors and wave your flag with the fullest extent of your PRIDE. You are loved and you are valued. Take up space by speaking your truth and create space for others who have not been given a platform. Recognize power dynamics outside and within the LGBTQIA+ community and work to eradicate racism across both. Teach allies about your identity and reach out to others in the Queer community who identify differently than you. Display their flag in solidarity and challenge yourself to become a better champion for their rights. LGBTQIA+ equality will only be achieved if the full community works together. To the extent that you are comfortable and maybe just a bit further while staying safe, live loud and proud. Your very existence is a form of protest. Your pursuit to live free, to express fully, to love wholly, is your protest. In honor of Pride Month 2020 and the path to full equality, all colors, all identities, and all truths are welcome.