No Pride, still proud: celebrating Pride in times of corona

8 queer people share their stories

17 juli 2020, Winq redactie, 5 minuten

How are queer people worldwide celebrating Pride now that nearly all major Pride events have been canceled due to Covid-19? In collaboration with our Pride partner Philips we asked 8 queer people to share their stories. “This year has made me realize I don’t need a Pride to feel proud.”

Klik hier voor de Nederlandstalige versie van dit artikel.

Robin Ramos

Artist & Activist - The Netherlands

“When I heard Pride Amsterdam was canceled this year, I was really disappointed. I was looking forward to representing queer, trans and non-binary people of colour as a Pride ambassador. For many people Pride is a gateway to becoming more proud of themselves. However, you don’t need a Pride event to feel proud. I think it is mostly important we remember the roots of the event, the legacy. It began as an uprising, with black and trans people in the forefront. That is why this year, in the absence of Pride events, I’ve been focusing on queer representation within the Black Lives Matter movement.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Robin Ramos
Robin Ramos

Christina Schiebol 

R&D Engineer at Philips - Germany

“This was going to be the first year Philips would participate in a German Pride parade. I was really excited. To me, the parades are a big part of the LGBT movement; besides being fun, they’re very empowering. This year I will be celebrating Pride online instead, because I think now more than ever it’s important to create a feeling of togetherness, to prevent people from feeling alone. As we cannot have physical parades this year, Philips organized an alternative program full of webinars, discussions, documentaries and films.”

No Pride, Still Proud -Christina Schiebol
Christina Schiebol

Don Roelofsen

Recovery room nurse - The Netherlands

“Without Pride we can still be proud. In fact, we should be proud. It’s something we have to show all year round, not just one month a year. Pride means being able to be your authentic self. After these past few months, during which solidarity and equality were so important, it’s very unfortunate that there were no Pride events. This year, instead of celebrating Pride, I’ll be taking care of my patients. I work as a recovery room nurse, so I want to use my efforts to decrease the waiting list that Covid-19 has caused.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Don Roelofsen
Don Roelofsen

Ashish Chopra

Talent researcher at Philips - India

“I was super excited to get into drag and walk in the Pride parade with my mom, so I was very disappointed that all major Pride events were canceled this year. However, Pride is much more than a parade. It’s a movement. Especially in countries like India, where we as queer people still have to fight for marriage and adoption rights. This year I’ll be sharing my coming out journey with various companies. I look forward to telling them about how accepting everyone at Philips is of my sexuality. It’s very important to celebrate Pride in a different way this year, because a lot of people may be stuck in places where they’re not accepted. Online events can create a platform for them to share their stories. Let’s show the world that we as a community stand together and this pandemic will not pull us down.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Ashish Chopra
Ashish Chopra

Alex Coleman

Creative Writing Professor - USA

“I was extremely disappointed that Pride events were canceled due to Covid-19, but I also felt somewhat relieved. People in Oklahoma haven’t been doing too well with the social distancing. I was mostly sad that I’m missing out on the opportunity to meet new people within my community, since I’m still new to the area. This year, I’ve chosen to express my pride through social media and through creating, through writing. I’m trying to take part in as many conversations about pride as possible. For me one aspect of Pride is being open about being trans in front of my students and in my classroom. As wonderful as Pride events are, they’re effectively just the topper on the Christmas tree. A capstone of a self-celebration that takes place 365 days a year.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Alex Coleman
Alex Coleman

Mari Yoshida

Compliance Analyst at Philips - The Netherlands

“Not being able to celebrate Pride physically was quite hard for me. I’m rather closed-off about my queerness in my daily life and pride is one of the only times a year that I feel I can fully be myself. That’s why this year I’m going to celebrate pride by focusing on my mental well-being. I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned about how to take care of myself in a webinar with more than 100 Philips colleagues. Through sharing my story in a lot of digital events this year, I’m realizing that I don’t need a Pride celebration to feel proud and be open about my queerness. I can be proud and be myself the entire year.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Mari Yoshida
Mari Yoshida

Amy Strong

Drag performer - Germany

“I think 2020 will be a special Pride year, but it will be a Pride year. In fact, every day is Pride day and every day is a day to fight discrimination against queer people and trans people. I’m going to celebrate Pride with my friends and some activists. Besides participating in an alternative Pride demonstration, we’re thinking of starting a new campaign to raise awareness for the problems queer people are still facing today. Events like Pride, in whatever form, are fundamental for younger people and people who feel they can’t show their sexuality and identity in public. Pride helped me feel hope, it helped me discover my love of drag, but most of all it made me feel not alone anymore.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Amy Strong
Amy Strong

Carolina Amador

Director Clinical Development - USA

“When I heard that the major Pride events were canceled, I was disappointed and sad. I was planning to participate in Boston Pride with Phillips, and also planned to visit the parades in Amsterdam and Seattle. Being proud of who I am is something that I haven't been doing my entire life. It wasn't until three years ago that I started really embracing my different identities and loving myself for who I am. Now I’ve realized that I don't have to rely on Pride events to be proud. I can be proud and celebrate Pride every single day of the year, just by showing my different identities at work and at home, and by participating in local events with the minority communities that I represent.”

No Pride, Still Proud - Carolina Amador
Carolina Amador

Astrid Balsink

Global Director Inclusion & Diversity at Philips

“Since May 2018, I have been working as a Global Lead I&D at Philips and it’s my goal to make clear progress. I have, jokingly, called myself ‘Chief Connections Officer’ because connection – from policy to events – is what it's all about. At work you need people around you who inspire and help you, who can make sure that you can really be your true self. That knife cuts at both sides: those who feel happier and more appreciated at work also become more productive, innovative and creative. At Philips, we think it is important that you can be the same person at work as in your private life – without having to pretend otherwise. An inclusive corporate culture is an important precondition for being yourself. Only then can people start working together from the power of difference. The beauty of a diverse team is that it can create from different angles and thus come up with innovative solutions. That is not only important and necessary, but also fun and inspiring. Our slogan ‘Life is better when #youareyou’ is all about that. Worldwide, there are many networks active where employees and leaders can meet to share their passion for this subject. No matter how different they are, they are all 100% committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity at work. I found out that our colleagues are super enthusiastic and motivated to get started on this topic. Not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide. Our leaders, HR and these groups work together to implement programs that are linked to our I&D goals.

No Pride, Still Proud - Astrid Balsink
Astrid Balsink (photo: Bete Photography)

Worldwide, for example, we are making managers aware of their unconscious prejudices. We let them think about issues such as: ‘Do I ask other questions to a female applicant than I would to a male applicant?’ Or: ‘What do I do when an employee talks about his weekend with his boyfriend on a Monday morning – and making this his coming-out?’ Or: ‘What would I do if an employee avoids this subject anxiously?’ Dialogue and awareness, that is very important. Locally there are additional programs to offer people from all different backgrounds good and fair opportunities, such as the Employment Plan in the Benelux. This is a close collaboration between Philips HR and the Municipality, for people who seem to have difficulty finding a new job, for example because they entered the country as a refugee, have a disability, do not speak the language or have been out of work for a long period of time.

The LGBTQ community is very important to us, they play a pioneering role. For many employees, it is a very valuable that Philips wants to make this subject visible and discussable. Especially for employees from countries where LGBTQ employees are legally or culturally not so well protected – it is a huge boost to know that you can show who you are at work. To know that your voice is heard and that your opinion is appreciated. Because life is better when #youareyou.”

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