Five ways to be a digital champion for Pride

Mike Buonaiuto, Founder and Executive Director of social change agency Shape History, explains how charities can be agents of positive change this Pride using social media and digital storytelling.

Guest Writer | 4th Jul 18
Image of rainbow. Mike Buonaiuto, Founder and Executive Director of social change agency Shape History, explains how charities can champion LGBT+ issues this Pride using social media and digital storytelling. Image: Ana Cruz, Upsplash

Mike Buonaiuto is Founder and Executive Director of social change agency Shape History. Mike is an award-winning Creative Director who’s spent a decade working alongside organisations, brands and charities that put people over profits. His background has always involved building teams that use creative tactics and digital tools that grow movements, fundraise and drive real-world change. Shape History is a vehicle to bring like-minded people together, and to prove that if the model is right, a social enterprise can work to support good causes of any type, with both integrity and a sense of adventure.

Pride in London is almost upon us, and from rainbow flags in shop windows to branded merchandise in high-street stores, it’s arguably going to be the most corporate Pride yet.

But when some brands are sponsoring both Pride and events such as the World Cup in Russia at the same time – a host country which openly criminalises LGBT+ people – what digital actions can the third sector take to live and breath united values of support and acceptance during this time of year, ensuring Pride is as inclusive and supportive as possible?


Help tell stories online

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that the majority of LGBT+ support networks only exist in the UK in cities and urban areas. There are millions of – especially young –  LGBT+ folks in rural areas of the UK, small towns and villages that are cut off from the positive and encouraging messages of acceptance and living your truth.

All charities during Pride can amplify the voices of these people from all over the UK online, not just cities, helping to ensure positive role models and their stories reach the eyes and ears of those most in need via social media. This includes LGBT+ people who are also BME or elderly.


Remember wider issues

80% of young people who are currently living on the streets or in temporary housing are forced to do so for the primary reason of being LGBT+. Millions of young people are kicked out of their home after they come out to their parents or loved ones and with nowhere else to turn – they end up on the street.

It’s important for all charities – though especially those who focus on homelessness or homeless youth as a core issue – to use Pride month as an opportunity to raise awareness of LGBT+ homelessness amongst audiences who need stories of positivity and acceptance – and this includes parents and grandparents.


Think global

A huge percentage of the world still criminalises LGBT+ folk, with 70 countries around the globe still imprisoning people due to their sexuality or gender identity, and the death penalty still being in place in 10 countries. This is unacceptable, and all charities should, aligned with their moral values, use Pride to galvanise their supporter base online and put pressure of international decision makers to raise awareness of criminalisation and drive policy change.

This is especially true for charities who champion human rights and have an obligation and platform to speak out and apply pressure concerning these international issues.


Communicate with intregrity

This year’s Pride In London will be the most branded yet, with more corporations than ever before sponsoring events, floats, parties and merchandise. It’s important to recognise that Pride started as a riot and there’s much more work needed to be done in the UK – and overseas-  until we reach full acceptance both legally and culturally.

Charities who hold partnerships and relationships with corporations who are also sponsoring Pride should encourage them to use their digital audiences to raise awareness of key issues still facing the community and to hold integrity in their funding and communication.

For example Budweiser this year is sponsoring NYC Pride but in the same year sponsoring the World Cup in Russia – a country which imprisons people for being gay every day and support Chechnya’s genocide of LGBT+ people.

More needs to be seen and heard online about these issues, and charities hold such power and influence to start vital conversations with partners to amplify the voices of those who need it most, to impact this kind of social change.


Keep privacy in mind

If you work at a charity and you are going to Pride events this year – ensure you are gaining consent from those you photograph before posting images online.

Unintentionally outing someone who attends a Pride event could put their livelihood in danger, so you have to be both careful and respectful.


Use Facebook to the fullest

And lastly, ensure you are using Facebook’s fundraising integrations when sharing images of Pride online to take the opportunity to raise money for vital causes who work everyday to help those most in need of LGBT+ support, guidance and policy change. This way engagement on your posts could and will lead to direct support of the community.