Facebook has introduced a rainbow flag reaction in honor of Pride Month.
Krzysztof Dydynski—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
By Ellen McGirt
Updated: June 25, 2018 5:20 PM ET

I’m in San Francisco in final preparation for Fortune’s CEO Initiative, which gets underway tonight—beginning with interviews from Apple CEO Tim Cook and author Steven Pinker. You can watch the livestream of mainstage events here, look for Fortune coverage of the on-the-record portions from the event here.

But yesterday, I was lucky enough to be allowed to invite myself to march in the San Francisco Pride parade, a joyous event that welcomed church groups, community organizations, community figures and teeming floats created by corporate resource groups followed by sunscreened employees and their families, all wearing pride shirts.

It was the first time I’d ever thought to march myself, a realization that made me re-think how infrequently I’ve found a way to be a public ally in the past. Eyes opened. I was reminded how important the act of showing up can be. It meant so much to be welcomed into a space where being present was not only enough, it was my job.

But, I’m also keenly aware that there were other marches in cities that are not as open as San Francisco, where despite ongoing challenges in the U.S. — bathroom bills, religious objections to serving LGBTQ customers, rising violence and the transgender military ban — the marchers and supporters had a baseline expectation of safety.

In other places, LGBTQ people and allies took to the streets to address these issues in communities where they were unlikely to feel as safe.

The Ukranian gay pride parade in Kiev ended in violence, for example, as marchers were attacked by far-right protesters, who hurled smoke bombs, rocks, and bottles before they started throwing punches at the marchers. Some thirty people were arrested, more were injured.

And things were tense in Rome, as the march came just days after Italy’s new families minister declared that gay families have no legal standing. “It’s very important that we’re here because we need to respond and show that it’s not true that we don’t exist,” one marcher told The Guardian. “We’re people who can have families, and when we say family, all we mean is love.”

It’s all a good reminder that under-represented communities cannot effectively fight for their rights to exist without the help of their friends.

For a helpful reminder on how to be an ally to LGBTQ colleagues every day, check out this handy post from Lifehacker. You can find a more general guide to supporting the civil rights of anyone who is different from you in this Guide to Allyship, an ongoing collection of suggestions originally created by designer Amélie Lamont.

But if you only have time for a quick video explainer from one of the most delightful creators in human history, spend a couple of minutes with Franchesca Ramsey, actor, writer, YouTuber, podcast star, and former Nightly Show correspondent.

“Imagine your friend is building a house and they ask you to help,” she begins. You, who have never built anything will need to start with some protective gear. But more importantly, you’ll need to “listen to the person in charge, otherwise, someone is going to get seriously hurt.” This is what being an ally is. You want to fight for the equality of a marginalized group you’re not a part of, but you need to get in formation. “We need your help building this house,” she says. “But you should probably listen so you know what to do first.”


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