Howard Pulchin-Ramos
May 28, 2024

Pride 2024: A call for more courageous allies

If businesses want to be allies of the LGBTQ+ community, they should act like they mean it, says Howard Pulchin-Ramos.

Pride 2024: A call for more courageous allies

Pride 2024 is upon us. I'm proud to be who I am. 

This wasn't always the case. Nearly half of my life I was afraid of fully living as I was born to — even living and working in New York City. It certainly compromised my performance and confidence. When I moved out to the West Coast for a short stint, I resolved to start by fully coming out, something queer people have to continually do in their lives. 

Yet, sadly, the vocal support from businesses for the LGBTQ+ population seems to be less pronounced today, moving toward the days when I was afraid. Outward courageous actions are on the wane. This comes as attacks on our decency and human rights come fast and seem to go unanswered. 

Since its inception, 'public relations' was designed to help companies and brands relate better to the public. Part of the agency's role should be to help all humans be seen and treated with humanity, to work for a more just society for all, which is even more needed today. 

This year, we've seen a state representative in Oklahoma call LGBTQ+ people “filth” in his quest to rid the state of us; watched as a county executive in Long Island try to prevent trans women from competing on county sports facilities; witnessed a continued push to ban books written by queer authors and about our histories and lives in schools and public libraries; and saw social media explode via a commencement address by an NFL player who called Pride "the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it.” We've experienced less vocal and visible support for our rights, as disdainful cries against being "woke" or "cultural wars'' have gained momentum. Just a few weeks ago, one of our once most vocal corporate allies announced a major cut in its in-store visibility during Pride Month. 

Perhaps it's best this year to suggest that businesses “don't show up for Pride." It is easy, but also inauthentic, to “show up” with rainbow-colored social media filters, to say you're an ally and post stories from employees on LinkedIn. Performative signals are not actions. 

Yet, I'm not ready to give up. Call me naive, but I envision a day when:

  • Our most senior LGBTQ staff actively participates in ERGs, alongside those newer to the workforce; 
  • There will be more cross-agency exchanges and collaborations to combat the growing homophobia, legislation, hate and violence being directed toward the LGBTQ+ population around the world; 
  • We help illuminate the business and social opportunities that come with visible and outspoken support of LGBTQ+ populations beyond Pride month. Less risk and more reward;
  • Agencies and companies stop viewing us through the lens of a "political" or "market" issue and more as a human rights and decency opportunity. I'm hoping that we see more small moments of courage this year from agencies and their clients. It's time for each to act on their truths and values in meaningful ways. 

I truly believe the agency world is a supportive place for LGBTQ+ people, yet I have heard from too many who have felt "othered" and witnessed microaggressions. I'm calling for agencies to mark Pride ‘24 and beyond as being courageous allies of action." 

It's one thing to have an ERG; it's another to stand with your ERG members in action. What does this mean? Do you have a plan to push back against legislation that hurts us? Do you have a plan to fight violence against us? Do you have a plan to help improve education so that more of your future employees have a full understanding of queer history? 

Help us demonstrate the true diversity and needs of our population. While I am lucky to be nearing my 13th wedding anniversary, marriage is not for all of us. Help give voice to our elders who are trying to scrape by or to those who struggle to live authentically because of prejudice and fears of violence. Talk about those doing the work toward justice today vs. showing the great, yet, typical symbols of LGBTQ+ civil rights. Help them work toward change. 

Work against book bans that seek to erase us in places of knowledge, like schools and libraries. Consider the education of your future employees. 

Be more curious about learning about the diversity, triumphs and battles of our population. Don't merely rely on your LGBTQ+ peers/colleagues to educate you. It really adds to our burden. Consider how much time we are all trying to teach ourselves about AI; put some time into learning more about us. 

Take on a pro-bono project that endures beyond the month that helps advance the humanity of all who are part of our diverse population. Despite the challenges, we will find our joy this June and beyond. What could give us even more joy is a bit of a break fighting for ourselves knowing we have more courageous allies visibly supporting us. And we are a population which remembers who stands with and for us. 

Howard Pulchin Ramos is head of ideation at Humantel. 


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