Commemorating Pride month at Pact
June is Pride month, when LGBTIQ+ communities around the world celebrate the freedom to be their unique selves. The month is dedicated to raising LGBTIQ+ voices, honoring LGBTIQ+ culture and supporting LGBTIQ+ rights.
Pact’s Gender, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Council and Global Culture Champions have organized a virtual parade and weekly “diverscapsules” to educate and open discussions with staff on LGBTIQ+ terminology, rights and challenges. We spoke with four colleagues—Lody Peng, Nicholas Moy, Norbert Massay and Valeria Mira—who are championing Pride month at Pact.
“Organizations like Pact have a responsibility to live the values we espouse.”
Q: Why is it important to commemorate Pride Month in our organization, particularly in light of our values?
Valeria Mira: Our values, especially respect and inclusion, call us to take a step forward in the recognition of the challenges that LGBTIQ+ people have faced in the pursuit of their rights. Recognizing and respecting sexual diversity is a first step toward an inclusive organization. Pride Month gives us the opportunity to make visible a claim of justice and equality for a large group that has long struggled to be recognized. This claim and our promise of respect and inclusion must transcend the commemoration and become part of our everyday work.
Norbert Massay: The LGBTIQ+ community has been widely isolated and having events like Pride month at Pact will enable them to feel that they are people who can be recognized and live their life. I had an opportunity to work with this community through a program called Sauti in Tanzania. I could feel how much they miss people to speak freely with.
Nicholas Moy: Organizations like Pact have a responsibility to live the values we espouse. We can’t talk about respect, inclusion and integrity without mentioning seminal events and celebrations like Pride month. We, as an organization, have a responsibility to those we serve to go beyond the scope of our day-to-day work to recognize, honor and celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion, through events like this.
Q: What kind of challenges for the LGBTIQ+ community can we address through our work at Pact?
Lody Peng: Starting from an individual’s awareness and understanding about LGBTQ+, we promote inclusiveness in Pact’s program implementation and support partner organizations working with LGBTIQ+. In Cambodia, we’re targeting young women to develop the capacity, skills and network necessary for them to start and grow business as well as to amplify their voices.
Mira: We can address the challenge of recognition and the need for a differentiated response according to their needs. Through our work, we can insert LGTBIQ+ issues in public and private agendas and advocate for their rights. We must understand their challenges in order to ensure that our projects and programs are designed to meet their needs. To do this, we must listen to their experiences with empathy.
Q: What did you learn from collaborating with your colleagues on Pride month activities?
Moy: I am constantly impressed with the dedication of my colleagues! This has been a great collaboration between the GEDI Council and the Culture Champions. I’ve very much valued getting to know colleagues around the world a bit better and share in our mutual Pride over the course of these past months working together. I am also thrilled to be able to learn about how my colleagues from around the world enjoy and celebrate Pride month.
Massay: It has been an honor to participate into this collaboration between the GEDI and Culture teams. There has been a lot of sharing across the organization and from country offices. It has been a fully energized team. Our discussions have given me an opportunity to understand that Pride month provides support to the LGBTIQ+ community through raising their voices and advocating for their rights.
Q: What does Pride month mean to you on an individual and professional level?
Peng: Pride month means equality, dignity, respect and values of gender diversity. I am proud to join this celebration with my Pact colleagues.
Massay: It has been my first time to learn about Pride month. In my country (Tanzania), speaking openly about LGBTIQ+ is not allowed. As an organization, you might run into problems. For me, Pride month means taking time to talk to LGBTIQ+ people in your community. This will show that you care and value them.
Mira: On an individual level, it means the possibility to show my support to all my friends, colleagues and members of my family that are part of the LGTBIQ+ community. On a professional level, it renews my commitment as a Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist to ensure the recognition of sexual diversity in the work that I carry on in the Vamos Tejiendo project in Colombia and as a member of Pact’s GEDI Council.
Moy: Pride month is important to me – to be able to support and show my allyship for the friends and family in my life who are part of the LGBTIQ+ community. What I love about Pride is how inclusive it is and how joyful it is. Pride month is about celebrating diversity and humanity in all its beautiful different hues and colors. I fundamentally believe that sharing culture, sharing joy, is key to fostering understanding for others. This in turn increases support and motivation for changing legal structures and systems that currently exclude or harm the LGBTIQ+ community.
Q: If you could leave readers with one thing to know or remember, what would it be?
Peng: Everyone is equal regardless of gender diversity. We are different, and we accept that. We respect and value the way we are.
Mira: It is our duty to ensure that human rights are fully guaranteed for every person in the world, without any discrimination, and that in contexts of injustice silence is never neutral.
Massay: Learn to respect everyone in your community. You do not know how much impact you will have by doing so.
Moy: Everyone has something that makes them different, makes them special. We can all understand what it means to be “othered”. If all those things that make us each different were points of pride for us – things to be respected and celebrated – how would that change your experience in the world and with your communities?