It’s International Day of Pink. Here’s how you can participate and support the cause
April 13th, 2022 is the International Day of Pink.
You may have heard of Pink Shirt Day, which takes place in February every year and aims to take a stand against bullying. On the International Day of Pink, we stand in support of the LGBTQ+ community and against bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny they continue to endure.
International Day of Pink originated in 2007 in Nova Scotia, Canada, when two boys witnessed their gay classmate being relentlessly bullied because he was wearing a pink shirt. Outraged by what they saw and wanting to show their support for their friend, they reacted quickly and convinced as many fellow students as they could to wear a pink shirt to school the next day.
This seemingly small act of wearing a pink shirt demonstrated both the importance of allyship and the impact showing up as an ally can have on the broader community.
Despite sociocultural and human rights advances made by the LGBTQ+ community over the years, , LGBTQ+ folks still continue still experience a disproportionate amount of bullying, harassment, violence and sexual assault. They are denied basic human rights such as shelter and medical care, experience higher levels of poverty, mental health issues and addiction, and are twice as likely to die by suicide than those outside of the community.
This year, we want to call attention to the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine, who are experiencing extremely unsafe and devastating conditions. As the attacks from Russia continue, LGBTQ+ folks are being forced to hide their true selves and flee the country, or risk losing their lives under execution by Russian forces. Many are being denied entry from neighboring countries with their own anti-LGBTQ+ agendas, leaving them with nowhere else to go. Those who cannot escape Ukraine must endure the discrimination of people from their own country, including their own family members who don’t accept them.
However, their bravery persists despite the fear, as they are coming together to help and support each other in finding safe spaces, access to resources and sharing vital, life-saving information. Queer folks are rising up and showing each other the support that no one else around them is willing to give.
So, to those suffering in Ukraine right now: we see you. We admire you. We support you. We continue to fight for a better world where your pride in who you are is not met with hatred. We are here for you. For those interested in making a contribution in support of LGBTQ+ rights, please consider donating to Rainbow Railroad, a global not-for-profit organization that provides support to LGTBQ+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
This is why International Day of Pink is of vital importance in both acknowledging and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously recognizing the suffering and the fact that there remains much work to be done.
Today, we continue to fight because these facts remain true:
- 47% of transgender folks will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.
- Approximately 40% of house-less youth are LGBTQ+.
- Nearly 1/6th of LGBTQ+ folks have faced discrimination in a healthcare setting.
- In 2018, nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ biases. The number of hate crimes against the community increases by approximately 2% per year.
- LGBTQ+ folks are 4x more likely to experience violence, including police brutality, than non-LGBTQ+ people.
- In 2020, the entire world experienced the highest number of murders of trans individuals, the majority of victims being transwomen of colour.
- LGBTQ+ parents and their families face higher legal and financial burdens than non-LGBTQ+ parents and families.
- LGBTQ+ youth who experience rejection from their family of origin are more likely to report house-lessness, mental health problems, and are more likely to engage in substance use
These staggering statistics are merely a glimpse into the daily lives, challenges and lived experiences of LGTBQ+ folks. However, there are many ways, big and small, that straight folks can show up as allies in an effort to lessen the stigma and show support in order to make the world a safer place.
Donate, volunteer or start an organization
There are lots of LGBTQ+ driven charities, shelters, community centers and clinics that need support and hands-on personnel. Spending time at a queer youth club, or donating to a health center so they can afford medical supplies are great ways to give back that directly impact the community in a positive way.
If there are no LGBTQ+ focused spaces in your area, do some research and find out what is required to get one started. Contact your local government or look for grants that want to help you in your mission to make a difference.
Educate yourself and others
More often than not, the burden is placed on LGTBQ+ individuals to teach others about the struggles they are facing, or to correct people about how to properly approach and speak to and/or about LGBTQ+ people. This can be very tiring and cause many folks to relive their traumas for the sake of others. It is the responsibility of those outside the LGBTQ+ community to educate themselves by finding evidence-based resources, listening to and reading stories of LGBTQ+ folks and spreading the knowledge when and where we can.
Support and amplify LGBTQ+ voices and initiatives
Many LGBTQ+ people and businesses have a hard time financially supporting themselves due to systemic discrimination and oppression. Redirecting your funds into supporting LGBTQ+ artists, business owners, and musicians can make a big difference in the lives of queer folks. Folks within the trans and gender non-conforming community frequently host fundraisers to support gender confirmation surgeries; supporting and sharing these fundraisers is another way to provide direct and tangible support. Sharing and amplifying your fave queer musician, artist, poet, author, etc. on social media is also helpful and free!
Here are some great LGBTQ+ Climate Leaders, Influencers and Organizations to keep in mind.
Respect individuals’ rights to safety and privacy
Not all spaces are for everyone and that’s okay! Self-segregated spaces by and for the LGTBQ+ community are necessary and needed and the role of an ally in this is to respect and protect these spaces.
Ask folks how they want to be addressed
If you don’t know how to address somebody, it’s okay to ask! And regardless of appearances or assumptions, always honor, respect and use the name(s) and pronouns that are shared with you. As a practice (and a tangible action allies can take), offer your name and pronouns when introducing yourself to others. This helps to normalize the practice while taking the spotlight off of LGBTQ+ community. This also signals to others that you are mindful and conscious when it comes to names and pronouns.
Show up consistently as an ally
Remember that being an ally is an action, not a noun! Displaying a pride flag or attending annual pride events are not enough. If you are a business owner, ensure that you are regularly providing trauma-informed diversity and equity training for your staff, that you are attracting and hiring folks from within the LGBTQ+ community and that part of your revenue stream goes into LGBTQ+ organizations and charities. If you’re signalling your business as a business that is safe for and that celebrates queer folks, ensure your images and text and ads signal this, too.
You can also add your identifiers and/or pronouns to your email signatures and social media bios, as mentioned above.
And of course, wear a pink shirt!
Take a cute selfie and post it on social media with a caption about what International Day of Pink means to you, and why it’s a cause worth sharing.
For information on International Day of Pink, and more ways to participate, check out the links below:
If you or someone you know are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and are looking for support or want to get involved, please reach out to:
- Human Rights Campaign
- Lighthouse (for LGBTQ+ friendly medical care practitioners and resources)
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- LGBTmap.org (based in USA)
- The Trevor Project
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
- QChat Space (for LGBTQ+ youth)
- Suicide Hotline
- Canada – 1-833-456-4566
- USA – 1-800-784-2433
- The It Gets Better Project
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