Love always wins...
Pride Month is celebrated globally during the month of June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City on June 28, 1969, which most historians consider to be the birth of the modern LGBTQIA+ movement. All around the world, this community is still persecuted for their beliefs and struggle for acceptance. So let us count it a privilege that we can celebrate the spirit of resilience and resolve of the activists from that day and those who continue to fight everyday for full equality and representation.
In 2018, Daniel Quasar designed the Progress Flag in order to make the traditional pride symbol more inclusive of the full breadth of identity within the LGBTQIA+ community.
According to Quasar, the V-shaped colored stripes along the flag’s “hoist” (the portion of the flag closest to the pole) represent the transgender community and people of color. The chevron faces to the right, symbolizing forward movement, while its placement on the left edge signifies that more progress needs to be made. The main section of the flag
features the traditional six-stripe LGBTQ flag, incorporating the most widely used symbol of pride and its original meaning.
The five stripes on the left represent trans and nonbinary individuals (light blue, light pink, white), marginalized POC communities (brown, black), and persons living with AIDS and its stigma and those who have succumbed to the disease (black). The six traditional stripes on the right represent life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony/peace (blue) and spirit (purple/violet).
Pronoun usage is one way to demonstrate your allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Discussing and correctly using gender pronouns sets a tone of respect and allyship with transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as with the members of the broader LGBTQIA+ community. Because gender identity is an internal sense of one’s own gender, we can’t necessarily know a person’s correct gender pronoun by looking at them. Additionally, a person may identify as genderfluid or genderqueer and may not identify along the binary of either male or female — some people identify as both masculine and feminine, or neither. A genderqueer or nonbinary identified person may prefer a gender-neutral pronoun such as the “they” (e.g., “I know Sam. They work in the managing clerk’s office”).
The experience of being misgendered can be hurtful, angering and even distracting. The experience of accidentally misgendering someone can be embarrassing for both parties, creating tension and leading to communication breakdowns across teams and with clients. While many people identify with their birth-assigned sex, their gender identity, their gender expression and the gender people often perceive them to be, many do not. A culture that readily asks or provides pronouns is one committed to reducing the risk of disrespect or embarrassment for both parties.
How do you ask someone about their pronouns?
Try asking: “What are your gender pronouns?” or “Which pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me which pronouns you use for yourself?” It can feel awkward at first, but it is not half as awkward as getting it wrong or making a hurtful assumption.
Asking people about their gender pronouns has become common place in LGBTQIA+ and safe-space communities. Outside of those communities, asking someone about their gender pronouns — instead of making assumptions about someone’s gender pronouns — is greatly appreciated.
If you are asking as part of an introduction exercise and want to quickly explain what a gender pronoun is, here is an easy example:
“Tell us your name, where you are from and your gender pronoun. That means the pronoun you identify with. For example, I’m Chris, I’m from New York and I prefer to be addressed with ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘hers’ pronouns. So you could say, ‘She went to her car,’ if you were talking about me.”
What if I call someone by the wrong pronoun?
People make mistakes, and it can be a bit difficult to adjust to using someone’s correct gender pronouns. If you accidentally misgender someone, just say sorry and continue the conversation using the correct pronoun.
This can look like:
“Chris is going on tour. She — sorry, they — said they are really excited for this year’s lineup.”
In social situations, it is best to apologize briefly and continue the conversation using the correct pronouns. When in doubt, it is best to use neutral pronouns like they/them/ theirs. The person can correct you or you can ask them for their gender pronouns. That way, you decrease the risk of outing them or exposing them to an unsafe situation.
What is pronoun privilege?
If your gender pronoun is something that never matters to you or that you rarely think about, then you may have pronoun privilege. It is a privilege to not be concerned by what pronoun someone else is going to use when referring to you based on their perceptions of your gender, which is often driven by persistent cultural norms that are highly enforced across societies.
Why is it important to respect people’s gender pronouns?
You can’t always know what someone’s gender pronouns are by looking at them.
Asking the people you converse with what their gender pronouns are and consistently using them correctly can determine within the first few minutes whether they will feel respected by you or your organization.
You will be setting an example: If you are consistent about using people’s gender pronouns, others will follow your example.
Many participants will be learning about gender pronouns for the first time, so this will also be a learning opportunity with a potential lasting impression.
Asking and correctly using someone’s pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity.
When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated or dysphoric (or, often, all of the above).
While many people use the wrong pronoun by mistake, sometimes people use the wrong pronoun intentionally to hurt or disrespect transgender and gender non-conforming people. Repeatedly being misgendered can be a source of great distress.
Using a person’s correct pronouns honors their gender identity and is a sign of mutual respect between the involved parties. It is also important to use the correct pronouns for the safety of the person involved. Using incorrect pronouns can potentially put the person in an unsafe situation by “outing” them — exposing their identity without their consent.
However you choose to commemorate this month, don't forget to take this time to learn and grow your understanding of human identities and how you can protect, support, and uplift others who may see the world differently than you do. Remember, love always wins!
These pronoun resources/guidance was adapted from supporting documents provided by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation; “Preferred Gender Pronouns for Faculty,” by Mateo Medina; and “Gender Pronouns 101,” Logan Meza.
Tiffany Yarde is a wine specialist, tasting event producer and recovering B2B sales executive from the legal marketing sector, who believes in the power of storytelling and how amazing food can bring people together. She is the proud co-foiunder of SHOKi, Afro-Caribbean Cocktails, a non-alcoholic beverage brand that tell the story of heritage and history in every glass.