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Navigating Pride: Celebrating amidst fear

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Pride is upon us! Just like prepping for a big party, there’s a mix of excitement and apprehension. As much as we need to revel in joy and unity this year, it feels like trying to dance under an ambiguous cloud of uncertainty. 

Traditionally, Pride has been a time of connection, celebration, and reflection —a period when we gather to spread love, embrace our identities, and stand visibly together with our allies. However, this year, the shadow of fear looms large, casting a dark cloud over many of the festivities where our rainbow flags typically fly high and proud.

As a member of our Queer@PI Employee Resource Group leadership team, I am finding it hard to be excited about Pride Month. It is tougher to spark joy, and fun, and ignite energy in our community when we are in distress. 

The current climate

The last few years have been emotionally draining as a queer person, due to the massive uptick in homophobic and transphobic incidents, and the number of active bills attacking the rights of our community. The ACLU is tracking 515 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S., making the prospect of celebrating Pride feel more daunting this year.

For many of us, the perennial fear of acceptance, the devaluation as human beings, and the threats to our safety have intensified. This fear is not unfounded; it’s a reality we navigate daily. 

Personally, Pride has not been the same since the Pulse Nightclub tragedy eight years ago. It is only one of many instances that shatter our concept of “safe” spaces. The fundamental right to exist as our authentic selves without shame or fear, and to stand up for our rights to live our lives freely like our cisgender and heterosexual peers, feels fraught with danger this year.

This year, official warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security highlight the increased risk of violence at Pride events. These advisories underscore the precarious position we find ourselves in. We are a community eager to celebrate love and identity, but forced to remain vigilant against potential threats. The State Department’s advisory specifically cautions about the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violence at Pride events, particularly overseas.

For many, these warnings evoke a sense of dread and apprehension. The FBI and DHS have noted an increased security threat against Pride events in the U.S. and abroad, citing recent plots and attacks as evidence of the ongoing danger. This escalation in threats leaves us questioning: Is it safe to celebrate? Can we afford to be visible and proud without putting ourselves at risk?

Power in unity and visibility

I remember the internal struggle of coming to terms with my identity. It wasn’t until I was 22 that I could admit who I was to myself and the world. Growing up without role models or education about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, I spent years in fear and self-doubt. 

I vividly remember moving to Boston surrounding myself with the 2SLGBTQIA+community and attending my first Pride event. It was the first time I felt seen, loved, and accepted for who I was. With the recent regressive legislation and societal backlash, I fear for the youth today who are being forced to hide their true selves, much like I did. I fear that we are losing our safe spaces and our joy.

Despite these challenges, there is power in our unity and visibility. Pride remains a critical space for us to assert our existence and demand our rights. It is a time to celebrate love, community, and resilience. Organizers of Pride events, like those in Boston, are working tirelessly to ensure our safety, collaborating with city, state, and federal officials to develop comprehensive safety plans. The DHS has issued a resource list for organizations and service providers to prepare for events during Pride month. If you are attending Pride events this June, please be safe, be prepared, and stay alert at all times.

As a Queer@PI Employee Resource Group (ERG) leader, I find it hard to spark joy amid this distress. This year, the focus of our efforts is not only to support the community. We’re also providing training, information, feedback, and a listening ear as needed. As we navigate these complex emotions and realities, it’s crucial to remember the essence of Pride. We are people. We are beautiful. We are just like everyone else. We want to love and be loved, to feel safe and supported, to belong.

Taking positive action

This Pride, let’s honor the 2SLGBTQIA+community’s courage and resilience. Allies, we need you! Help us create safe spaces at work by making your stance on our belonging known. Write to your legislators to protect our rights. Speak up when you hear homophobic and/or transphobic language to protect us in public spaces. Educate yourself on how to talk to your kids about gender. And teach the children in your lives about acceptance and love, to ensure they grow up in a world where being queer is celebrated, not feared. 

Companies: Develop Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and invest in training opportunities. I am thankful to work for a company with a People Operations team that has invested in creating ERGs. These create connections, make space, and invest in expert training for our employees. Later this month, we have Gender Specialist Rebecca Minor coming for a 90-minute session to dig into the fundamentals of gender diversity, tips on navigating gender conversations, responding to missteps, and building allyship in practice. 

Together, we can make a difference, even in the smallest gestures. Keep saying ‘gay.’ Celebrate love. Stand proud. Despite the fear, we must continue to shine our light, for ourselves and future generations.


Ryan is PI's Director of Content Design, a member of the Queer@PI Employee Resource Group leadership team and the Change@Work Pioneer Advisory committee. She has a healthy obsession with plants, with over 190 house plants and counting!

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