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June is Global Pride Month…and as a small business owner, it’s a great time to show your support of the LGBTQ+ community by giving back, celebrating equality and highlighting your business as a safe space for all. Read on for powerful words from LGBTQ+ small business owners and advice for honoring Pride.
What is Pride Month?
Originally held on the last Sunday in June, ‘Gay Pride Day’ (or ‘Christopher Street Day’) commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan – a major event for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. 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 Pride march was held in New York the following year to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. And since then, Pride has evolved into a month-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 recognized as Global Pride month by many countries, even though some cities may hold their Pride events on alternate dates. The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (ILGTA) has a calendar listing Pride celebrations in cities and countries around the world.
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 during Pride month. 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.
As the owners of beauty and skincare company Beekman 1802, Dr. Brent Ridge and his husband, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, ensure each employee knows what it means to be an ally. “We make sure that all of our team members learn to be inclusive, accepting and empathetic every day of the year. Pride is a great time to remind the team that they lead by example in our community.”
How can LGBTQ+ owners market their small businesses during Pride Month?
If you identify as part of the LBGTQ+ community, June is a great time to really showcase your pride. Take this month 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 month of June, 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.
4 ways small business owners can celebrate Pride Month:
1. Wear your pride.
Change up your employee uniform for the month of June with a Pride design or a special-edition rainbow logo treatment. Whether with T-shirts, face masks, stickers or buttons, be loud (and proud) while you show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.
2. Deck out your storefront – online & IRL.
Decorate your brick-and-mortar storefront or site homepage with Pride-inspired designs. Online, show your pride with an updated homepage banner and vibrant social media templates. At your shop, get creative with banners, posters and lawn signs to celebrate Pride month 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).
Brent notes how impactful the iconic rainbow flag is, too. “As simple as it is, we think the Pride flag has so much meaning and power. Seeing it immediately communicates that you’re supportive of a person’s right to love freely and flourish. If you have a small business and are an ally, we can’t underscore enough how much flying the flag means.”
“If you have a small business and are an ally, we can’t underscore enough how much flying the flag means.”Dr. Brent Ridge, owner of Beekman 1802
3. Create a limited-edition product that does good.
Take your allyship into action – design a new product and donate a portion of the proceeds to a non-profit organizationthat supports and champions the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you add a small-batch ice cream flavor to your menu or design limited-edition mugs, blankets or T-shirts, you’ll create excitement around a new product and raise funds for a great cause.
Work with an LGBTQ+ artist to create your limited-edition offering. You’ll elevate and celebrate their artistry and generate awareness for the whole community.
4. 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. Create a social post or send 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.
5 ways to celebrate Pride in 2021
- Wear your pride with a T-shirt or sticker.
- Add a Pride-inspired design to your website’s homepage.
- Deck out your storefront with flags, posters & more.
- Raise funds for an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community.
- Spread the word about your allyship to customers.
This article was created in partnership with Vistaprint’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.