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What is Pride Month?

It is a month-long celebration and commemoration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their achievements. Since the first pride parade in 1970, the month has grown to include more of the LGBTQ+ community and continues to evolve as our understanding of sexual orientation and identity grow.

It is also an important opportunity to highlight the continued inequality for LGBTQ+ people across the globe and get involved in making a difference, whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or are an ally.

When does this event take place?

Pride Month takes place in June in honour of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York, USA. Sometimes this event is referred to as the Stonewall Riots.

The Stonewall Uprising began as a reaction to a homophobic, violent raid by police on the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village, New York City. At the time homosexuality was classified as a “mental disorder” and illegal, therefore there were very few safe LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces, even gay clubs were not safe as often they were run by organised crime groups and under constant police raids.

The Stonewall Inn raid was the event that triggered a series of protests by the gay community where the demands were simple; the gay community wanted the right to live openly regardless of their sexual orientation and without fear of being arrested.

Why is there a Pride Month?

The event exists because historically LGBTQ+ people, their lives, experiences, achievements and successes have been hidden away and erased. Pride began as protest for equality and a demand to live without fear, however these demands have not been fully realised and many LGBTQ+ people are still isolated and subject to daily prejudice.

It also provides an opportunity for:


Pride parades are an opportunity to show up in great numbers to celebrate and honour those who came before and to acknowledge the suffering of LGBTQ+ siblings still ongoing around the world. The whole month also gives the LGBTQ+ community a chance to gather and see that they have common ground and can unite under one banner.


So much of LGBTQ+ history has been lost and erased for many reasons. Two of the most well recognised examples are the HIV/AIDS epidemic and LGBTQ+ hate crimes. It’s estimated that 40.1 million people have died from HIV/AIDS (World Health Organization, 2021). This epidemic was once known as the “gay plague” and ravaged the gay community throughout the 80s when there was little understood about it and very little treatment.

Additionally, Stonewall reports that one in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. During Pride Month memorials are held for those in the community who have been lost to HIV/AIDS and hate crimes.


Pride Month is an opportunity to be active and take part. There has been progress but there is still work to be done; there are countries that still have laws criminalizing homosexuality (some even have death penalties) and in every country there are inequalities between LGBTQ+ and heterosexual cisgender individuals when accessing healthcare, education, employment, housing and social services. For organisations it is an opportunity to show support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and customers.

From our expert:

“Pride Month is important as it provides an opportunity to be loud and proud, and for me it is chance to celebrate my own personal journey and all the experiences (good and bad) that got me to where I am now. It’s also so important to remember that Pride started as a protest and is still an act of defiance. We will not go away and we will keep claiming space until every LGBTQ+ person in the world is equal.” – Jason Miles Summers

Is there a Pride Month flag?

There isn’t a single flag; there more than 50 different Pride flags! We have a handy introduction to LGBTQ+ flags.

The central, most recognised and used Pride flag is:

This flag is the Progress Pride Flag. The traditional rainbow flag was updated in 2018 by Daniel Quasar (with an additional update in 2021). It builds on the very first Pride flag designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker. This flag spotlights the often-marginalised groups of the LGBTQ+ community and positions the arrow as pointing forward towards progress and inclusion. In 2021 Valentino Vecchietti, DIVA columnist and member of Intersex Equality Rights UK, created the latest Pride flag iteration to ensure representation of the intersex community, by including the intersex flag.

  • White, pink and light blue: The colours of the Trans flag. The white also symbolises those living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Black and brown: These colours symbolise the often-marginalised LGBTQ+ people of colour.
  • Yellow with a purple circle: This represents the intersex community.

The other colours of the flag also have meaning:

  • Red: Life
  • Orange: Healing
  • Yellow: Sunlight
  • Green: Nature
  • Blue/Indigo: Serenity
  • Violet: Spirit

Gilbert Baker explained in a 2015 interview that the reason he chose a rainbow as the symbol of Pride was: “We needed something to express our joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that … We’re an ancient, wonderful tribe of people. We picked something from nature. We picked something beautiful.”

“I redesigned the Pride progress flag to make it intersex inclusive for our intersex inclusion campaign this Pride (2021) season,” Vecchietti shared on Instagram.

Facts you should know

Here are a few quick Pride Month facts to know:

  • Gay rights movements were around a long time before the Stonewall Uprising. In Chicago, USA, the Society for Human Rights campaigned for gay rights in 1924. In 1955 the first ever lesbian rights group (Daughters of Bilitis) was founded in San Francisco, USA, and there have been laws in the UK against “acts of indecency” as far back as 1533 (by King Henry VIII).
  • The first symbol of gay resistance and Pride wasn’t the rainbow, it was the reclaimed pink triangle that the Nazi’s used to identify homosexuals in concentration camps.
  • Homosexuality was partly decriminalized in the UK in 1967. However, this only applied to men over the age of 21 years old (the UK age of consent for heterosexual couples is 16 years old). It was only in 1994 that the age of consent for gay men was lowered to 18 years old, and then 2001 it was finally aligned to the UK age of consent but again, only for gay men.
  • Pride Month was officially recognised in the USA in 1999 by US President Bill Clinton.
  • Brighton, UK, is the unofficial LGBTQ+ capital of the UK and been a hub for the LGBTQ+ community for over 200 years. This city hosts one of the five main pride events in the UK LGBTQ+ pride calendar.
  • Trans women and drag queens of colour (Marsha P. Johnson, Zazu Nova and Jackie Hormona) are remembered as the most prominent figures of the Stonewall Uprising and gay liberation. It was drag queens who lead the first Gay Pride rally in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Uprising.
  • The largest Pride events outside of the USA and UK are: Taiwan Pride in Taipei, Tel Aviv Pride in Israel, Mardi Gras Parade in Australia and Johannesburg Pride and South Africa.

How to celebrate Pride in the workplace

There are numerous ways to commemorate Pride Month at work, including:

  • Education and training: Diversity and inclusion should already be woven throughout all training and explicitly include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression awareness. The training should include your policies, appropriate behaviours and then go beyond that. Utilising the month to run a refresher programme or introduce new LGBTQ+ specific training will help create a more inclusive environment and educate your colleagues, especially those leading teams. Investing in appropriate resources is incredibly important as it shouldn’t be up to LGBTQ+ (and other minority) employees to educate others.
  • Raise awareness and increase visibility: If you have a LGBTQ+ Employee Network, this is a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate its existence and members. Pride is an excellent opportunity to run events that give your LGBTQ+ employers and their allies a chance to share their personal stories if they are willing. If you don’t have a LGBTQ+ Employee Network, consider using Pride to start one, we have a guide on how to support building sustainable staff networks.
  • Get involved by supporting an LGBTQ+ organisation: LGBTQ+ services are very often underfunded so June is a good time to introduce a new partnership or affiliation with an LGBTQ+ organisation and run a fundraising campaign for them. It also helps create a sense of community which is at the core of Pride.
  • Show your pride: LGBTQ+ inclusion shouldn’t only be for one day or month, however, it is an excellent occasion to partake in what I call “silent signalling” by introducing rainbow lanyards, pronouns on name badges, including LGBTQ+ literature in any reading corners or linking to well-known LGBTQ+ websites on your organisation’s intranet. You may even want to consider attending a local Pride Month event.
  • Take action: Commit to making your workplace a more inclusive, safe space. Use this month and increased attention on LGBTQ+ resistance and liberation to review your policies and ensure your organisation has a dedicated, robust Diversity, Equality and Inclusion policy that provides clear guidelines on how all staff – including your LGBTQ+ colleagues – are protected. Are your policies inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals? Each policy needs to consider sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and include the consequences for any instances of bullying, harassment, and discrimination. If you need a starting point, check our Policy, Review and Rewrite guidance.

Next steps to embed LGBT+ inclusion

If you would like to explore how the the best practice highlighted in this awareness page can benefit your workplace, we would love to hear from you. Start the conversation by filling in the form below:

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