The LGBTQ+ acronym
+: Other groups, such as asexual, intersex, pansexual, polysexual, etc.
The rainbow flag was originally commissioned by politician and gay activist Harvey Milk in 1978 as a cultural representation that would unite the LGBTQ+ community. The original was designed by Gilbert Baker and had eight colors on the flag and each symbolized a different value:
- Pink for sexuality
- Red for life
- Orange for healing
- Yellow for sunlight
- Green for nature
- Turquoise for art
- Indigo for harmony
- Violet for spirit
The flag was met with praise and proudly used in San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It was later put into production and simplified to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Today, the flag is recognized worldwide as a symbol of the people who make up the LGBTQ+ community.
So what is sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation is used to describe the gender(s) to which a person is romantically or sexually attracted. Heterosexual means being attracted to a different gender, while homosexual means being attracted to the same gender. For many, sexual and romantic attraction is not 100% oriented towards a single gender, which is what it means to be bisexual.
That leads to an important follow-up question: what is gender?
Gender describes the social construct specifying certain ways we can identify and express ourselves to fit a role between what is conceived to be “boy” or “girl”. Similar to sexual orientation, it exists as a spectrum with some identifying fully one way or the other and others identifying somewhere in between (or outside of). For someone to be transgender means they do not fully identify with the gender that matches their biological sex. Conversely, a cisgender individual is one whose gender does match their biological sex, though they may still identify with the social and behavioral norms that are considered to be more “masculine” or “feminine.” Cisgender individuals may even purposefully bend these norms in order to deconstruct the rigidity of gender roles. This is an area where drag culture developed from.
If sexual orientation and gender are independent of one another, why do we group them together? (LGBTQ+)
As a united LGBTQ+ community, we stand together because of the shared experience we face as sexual and gender minorities who are disadvantaged by heteronormativity, which describes the widely held belief that people fall into just two distinct genders and that heterosexuality is the only norm. It appears everywhere in the form of any institutions or normalizing practices that privilege cisgendered heterosexuality as fundamental and discriminate against those outside. Together we share the experience of being queer, which is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender.
Why are allies so important?
Societies are and should be configured to support the needs of the majority. To create a society which is inclusive and supportive of all people the needs of minority groups need to be met as well. This means that in practical terms civil rights issues are minority rights issues. In a democracy minority groups have less political power by design, which means that if the rights of those minorities are to be protected, those communities need the support and the votes of those in the majority. The best way for allies to contribute is to be aware of the issues faced by others, provide support at an individual level by listening and acting on their values, think critically about how minority needs can integrate with the broader social fabric, and vote accordingly.
Why Pride month?
June has been an important time for us as LGBTQ+ individuals, as it marks the anniversary of an event that acted as a paradigm shift for LGBTQ+ rights and recognition: the Stonewall Riots. For years, the LGBTQ+ community was continuously targeted and punished for who they loved or the gender with which they identified. This came to a head in the 1960s in New York City. The Stonewall Inn—a known gay bar in Greenwich Village—was raided by NYPD on an almost weekly basis. During one of these raids, in the early hours of June 28th, 1969, the heat was starting to turn up, police started harassing patrons, and many from the bar were starting to resist. A riot soon broke out and ended up lasting many days, emanating to the surrounding neighborhoods. This event acted as a milestone to the struggle and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community.
The following year, a parade in New York City was organized to mark the anniversary of the riots and reminding others that we as the LGBTQ+ community need to be recognized, appreciated, loved, and respected. Year after year, more cities joined the movement to mark the occasion, with many of these parades later becoming integral to cities’ identities. While communities and peoples’ perspectives have changed and evolved since then, it is important to reflect on our history and celebrate ourselves and the community at large.
With every Pride parade, we have marked the occasion with huge strides in LGBTQ+ rights, most recently with the recognition in the United States of same-sex marriage. However, as of March 2017, only 23 of the 195 countries of the world countries recognize same-sex marriage and as of August 2017, 73 countries have laws criminalizing homosexuality. These days, we are marching in solidarity for our LGBTQ+ family who do not have a voice while still reminding our communities at home that we are loud, need to be heard, and need to be accepted.
Learn more about the Stonewall Riots:
Mission: Pride@Groupon strives to ignite passion within its fierce membership, by supporting the queer and ally community with respect, integrity, and inclusion while continually pushing to make life less boring.
Vision: Pride@Groupon will be an Employee Resource Group with strong engagement and support from its community internally. Externally, Pride will be a voice for its underserved consumer/merchant segment and attract a diversified workforce through outreach and partnerships. Exemplifying that diversity is not simply ideal to strive towards, but is necessary for a business to thrive.
The authors of this blog post are proud members of Pride@Groupon and are composed of LGBTQ+ people and their fierce allies:
Sarah Hill – Finance Chair
Nicole Calcagno – Communications Chair
Duncan Deutsch – Seattle Site Lead
Travis Cohen – Chicago Site Lead