This weekend Calgary gets ready to gather as a community and celebrate Pride. Many of you may have seen the other Pride marches in towns and cities across the world showcasing the vibrant rainbows and flags we have come to associate with Pride. As a woman-centred organization and a long-standing fixture in the Calgary community that has made a conscious decision to be there for women – all women – and their families, marching in Pride is incredibly important to us. It helps demonstrate that we are allies, we are here in solidarity and we celebrate the diversity that makes this city so great.

This week we are featuring a guest blog post from one of our YW summer students with lived-experience on why visible support of the LGBTQ2S+ is critical for everyone, be it corporate, not-for-profit organizations or individuals who believe in thriving communities.

Why visibility is important:

This summer while choosing a seasonal employment opportunity I had to take a couple of things into consideration. First, whether the chosen role will fit well in my non-profit career path and second – how anti-oppressive and socially aware the organization I will spend my summer with is. My eyes landed on YW, I was sure about my decision after I scrolled down the webpage to find two colorful flags in the right corner. There. We had it. I was safe.

Being queer, and being raised in a not-so-tolerable environment in my country of origin, has led to my safety being one of my primary concerns when it comes to… well, anything. Not having the privilege of being ‘out’ in my hometown across the Atlantic Ocean, I wanted to use my current privilege of living, working and existing in a space without threat of even an uncomfortable word coming my way. And trust me, we hear them a lot, but the question remained of how would I know if I was safe when I am used to a reality where I am not?

Visible allyship and loud inclusivity are so important for any organization that works with people (and with everything else, for that matter). Historical oppression and everyday unsafety does not make it easier for marginalized folks to ask for help. Sometimes we don’t expect that help from anywhere; because it was never there in the first place. Sitting in the comfort of your office while quietly supporting the community in your thoughts is not enough. Going out there, listening to the stories of people and showing that you really care – that is the start.

There is still a long way to go and the need to do better. All organizations need to continue to press forward and be even louder. Those two small colorful flags can be just a pretty feature on the website for you – but a huge step for people who never felt the rainbow before.

Happy Pride Calgary.