Every June, Gay Pride parades march in cities across the country. From Orlando to Los Angeles—and New York this weekend—LGBTQ people gather publicly, united in the celebration of gender and sexual diversity. But Pride may not be serving all gay people equally. According to a survey conducted by the social networking and dating app for LGBTQ womenHer, many women do not feel welcome at, or plan to attend, their local Pride events.
Pride was once an event the company promoted on its app. But in an interview with Broadly, Barbara Galiza, the head of marketing at Her, explained that they wanted to find out what their users actually felt about the LGBTQ community's annual rallying point. "We went into the survey without any expectations," Galiza says. "It was very nice to see so many women still see a big importance in Pride, but disappointing very few considered going themselves."
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According to their findings, 31 percent of the LGBTQ women surveyed said they didn't feel comfortable or welcomed at Pride. And the numbers get much worse once the researchers broke down that acronym: Forty-three percent of bisexual women, and the majority (53 percent) of self-identified queer women reported that they don't feel comfortable or welcomed at Pride. When it came to actually attending marches, the numbers were worse still. While 74 percent of respondents said they lived in towns or cities where Pride parades were occurring, only 40 percent said they had plans to go. Thirty-five percent had never been to Pride at all.
Galiza thinks the problem may be the male-centrism at any LGBTQ event, whether Pride or otherwise, that isn't "focused for queer women only," she said. "I think it's a cycle where women will go to these events, not see many women there, and not go back a second time." The lack of gay women's representation may be a significant problem, but it can likely be traced partially back to the misogynistic attitudes and behavior prevalent in some strata of gay male culture.
But while Her's study suggests that Pride is failing to attract a large number of LGBTQ women, 89 percent of respondents believe it is an important event nonetheless. One Her user who answered the survey, Sandra, opened up about Pride's significance in an interview with Broadly. Though it can be unwelcoming to many women, Sandra assured me that "Pride is important" because the troubling issues which necessitated Pride still exist. Though Pride originated as a reaction to the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, she said, the hardships LGBT people face are still difficult both in New York and around the world. "We come together yet again," Sandra explained, referring to the community gatherings that have happened in the wake of the massacre at the Pulse gay club in Orlando. "I always feel safe at any Pride event I go to," she said.
Still, Sandra says, "The challenge we face as women are different than men." Galiza pointed to the women's stage at the London Pride parade as an example of how Pride events around the world have tried to make women more welcome. "To improve, it needs to be a combination of awareness of the community, new initiatives from the organizers, and women being aware this space is also for us," Galiza said.
"There's no doubt the LGBTQ community can achieve much more if we're together," she continued. "We should also be aiming for equality within ourselves."