We’re almost a third of the way into Pride Month, but for the most part, companies have been silent. At face value, it’s easy to see why. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and economic free fall. Add the recent protests the murder of George Floyd triggered and, well, we all have enough on our hands, right?
Not so fast.
As this pandemic has shown, people living among us who are already most at risk are even more vulnerable to the ongoing public health and economic chaos. And that includes the LGBTQ community, especially gay and queer people of color, according to a recent Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and PSB Research study. More data has revealed the level of suffering occurring within these communities, “but little has been done in connecting sexual orientation, gender identity, and race regarding the pandemic’s impact,” said writer Matt Tracy.
To give a snapshot of what’s been unfolding during these crises, the HRC/PSB study concluded that almost 40 percent of LGBTQ people of color have had their work hours reduced, compared to 29 percent of white LGBTQ citizens and 24 percent of the U.S. general population overall. A similar disparity also shows on matters of asking for a delay in paying bills. Finally, when the study’s researchers asked respondents to assess their overall financial situation, black and brown LGBTQ citizens replied that they have felt the impacts of the past few months at a higher level.
The effects COVID-19 has wreaked on LGBTQ people worldwide is summed up in a recent World Economic Forum op-ed:
“So many abuses on LGBTQI persons in this time of COVID-19 are going unnoticed. For example, the ways that some governments are now using contact tracing apps and internet-based technologies to monitor movements during lockdowns is posing a threat to the privacy and confidentiality of LGBTQI individuals – especially those living under repressive regimes who risk being targeted, outed and penalized for being queer.”
The gay community in Seoul, South Korea, is one example of how LGBTQ citizens feel unfairly targeted after reports surfaced that a man who had been stricken by the novel coronavirus had possibly exposed up to 5,000 people after visiting several bars and clubs in the city’s nightclub district. Uncertainty and fear have also become the norm within other LGBTQ communities worldwide.
“As racist stereotyping, finger-pointing and street attacks persist, reports across the world reveal a parallel phenomenon,” wrote Patrick Strudwick of Buzzfeed. “Institutions of power — from governments and churches to police and media — are blaming sexual or gender minorities for the spread of the virus.”
As another Pride Month reminder, over 70 countries still criminalize LGBTQ citizens simply for living their lives as they are, and a dozen nations impose the death penalty as punishment for private, consensual sexual activity, according to information that organizations including Human Dignity Trust monitor.
The hostility LGBTQ citizens have confronted worldwide comes at a time when they are ready to celebrate their community, only to face the reality that a public health crisis led to cancellations of annual rallies, parades and marches. Pride Month also gives the opportunity to remember how horribly LGBTQ citizens have been treated, and at the same time, look forward in ensuring their rights are protected and strengthened. Hence the nixing of these events adds to the invisibility many of our LGBTQ neighbors currently face day after day.
The business community offers a voice, and the resources, to stand up for LGBTQ citizens, and Pride Month is the perfect time to take such action. This moment requires far more than a redesign of a company logo or the more unfortunate example of “pridewashing” we’ve shared in the past. LGBTQ-owned businesses could benefit from financial support or promotion; those who have had to move into a situation where they feel closeted and silenced at a minimum need to hear messages of hope; and governments should be warned there is no good time, ever, to take away equal rights.
Image credit: Stavrialena Gontzou/Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.