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June is the start of global Pride celebrations…and as a small business owner, it’s a great time to show your support of the LGBTQ+ community by celebrating equality and highlighting your business as a safe space for all. Read on for some advice for honouring Pride.
What is Pride?
‘Gay Pride Day‘ (or ‘Christopher Street Day’) commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan – a major event for the Gay Liberation Movement. The Stonewall Inn, one of New York’s most popular gay bars, was raided by the police in June 1969. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community were arrested and detained, and word about the raid spread throughout the city…resulting in a major protest that lasted into the following week. Although this wasn’t the first uprising, many consider it a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
The first UK Gay Pride Rally was held in London on 1st July 1972, a date that was chosen as it was the closest Saturday to the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots and around 2,000 people participated. Since then, the event has spread to other cities across the UK, had several name changes and got even bigger with numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Since then, Pride has grown to incorporate all members within the LGBTQ+ community and has helped to celebrate and raise awareness of all voices under the rainbow flag. Although London is the biggest celebration, there are countless others around the UK, the largest (after London) being Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
Pride has evolved into a months-long celebration raising awareness for the ongoing works to achieve equal rights, equal opportunity and justice for the LGBTQ+ community in cities all over the world. June is officially recognised as Global Pride month by many countries, though in the UK events generally take place from July to September. To find your local event, Pride Events UK has a calendar listing Pride celebrations in towns and cities across the UK.
What does it mean to be an ally?
You can be an ally whether or not you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Start by actively educating yourself about the history of LGBTQ+ oppression, ongoing struggles and how this community wants to be acknowledged now. Seek out literature and films made by LGBTQ+ creators, and speak up when you witness misrepresentation or harmful jokes (on social media or in real life). Don’t assume someone’s orientation, gender identity or preferred pronouns – instead, commit to being open-minded, willing to ask questions and expand your understanding to become a better ally.
As a small business owner, make sure your employees and customers know that your business is a safe space – and not just when Pride is being celebrated. We’ve seen signs at small businesses with messages like, “Love wins,” “A safe space for all” or “All identities are welcome here.” Consider displaying a similar message in your shop’s window, on your website’s ‘About’ page or in your social media bio. And make it visible all year long.
Tskenya-Sarah Frazer, owner of the vegan and sustainable footwear brand Tskenya, knows what it means to be an ally. “I try my very best to continuously be up to date with LGBTQ+ discourse just so I can understand the community that I’m serving more, and to do so genuinely as well.”
How can LGBTQ+ owners market their small businesses during Pride celebrations?
If you identify as part of the LBGTQ+ community, the summer is a great time to really showcase your pride. Take this time to connect with your customers and give them a deeper understanding of who you are as a business owner, creator and person.
And during the months of July, August and September, look for LGBTQ+ specific opportunities to market your small business. Whether it’s a virtual marketplace or a nearby festival, promote your products and services to an audience who supports you.
3 ways small business owners can celebrate Pride:
1. Wear your pride.
Change up your employee uniform for the summer with a Pride design or a special-edition rainbow logo treatment. Whether with T-shirts, face masks, stickers or badges, add a design to be loud (and proud) while you show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
2. Deck out your shopfront.
Decorate the outside of your shop for the summer. Get creative with banners, posters and plastic signs to celebrate Pride and tell customers you’re an LGBTQ+ small business owner or an ally. Show your support year-round with something a bit more subtle, like a window decal (or two).
VISTAPRINT TIPWork with an LGBTQ+ artist to create your limited-edition offering. You’ll elevate and celebrate their artistry and generate awareness for the whole community.
3. Communicate your pride to customers.
If you’re a small business owner who’s part of the LGBTQ+ community, invite customers to join you in celebrating. Send out an email newsletter that details your personal connection to the movement so they have a better understanding of who you are.
If you’re not part of the LGBTQ+ community but identify as an ally, this is your chance to speak up. Make sure your customers know where you stand via an Instagram post or in-store banner. Package orders with “Proud Ally” or “Love Wins” stickers, and send thank-you postcards to customers who supported your fundraising efforts.
4 ways to celebrate Pride in 2021
1. Wear your pride with a T-shirt or sticker.
2. Add a Pride-inspired design to your website’s homepage.
3. Deck out your shopfront with flags, posters & more.
4. Spread the word about your allyship to customers.
This article was created in partnership with Vistaprint’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.