Editor’s note: This post is regularly updated with new information. It was originally published in June 2020.
Pride month represents a bright spot of joy and celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community. For some people, this will be another chance to celebrate a tradition, as they’ve done for years. For others, it could be their first time openly embracing Pride after coming out or joining festivities with their growing family.
It’s also a time to be seen and recognized. The country took an important step toward recognition on June 1, 2021, when President Joe Biden issued a proclamation declaring June Pride Month and promised to fight for full equality for LGBTQ people to be written into law.
That positive step came on top of an executive order mandating federal agencies fully enforce all federal laws that bar discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Biden signed this upon entering office. This starkly contrasted the previous administration, which had steadfastly refused to even acknowledge Pride in 2020.
This year, however, Pride arrives at a time when a record number of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills threaten equality in many states. Approximately 540 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced this year in state legislatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The HRC issued an unprecedented “state of emergency” alert in response.
The TPG brand was founded on principles of equality for all. Our founder, Brian Kelly, has publicly shared his experiences traveling the world as an openly gay man, and our company supports several organizations focused on improving the quality of life for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
However, there is still much work to do on the equality front, especially for gay people in countries with restrictive, homophobic laws.
Many individuals worldwide live in fear of persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Outed people are sometimes ostracized, abused and even killed by homophobic people in their communities or by government officials. Discrimination also exists in many areas of the U.S.
LGBTQI+ individuals continue to face much higher rates of discrimination than non-LGBTQI+ individuals across all areas of society, according to a 2022 Center for American Progress survey. Some of these areas include healthcare, employment, housing and public spaces.
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For several years now, TPG has partnered with the nonprofit organization Rainbow Railroad to rescue LGBTQIA+ individuals. One such person is Montgomery, a Jamaican man who spent more than 30 years hiding his sexuality to stay alive.
Montgomery — who is now in his 50s — was able to escape his dangerous homeland and relocate to the United States thanks to a couple of organizations, including Rainbow Railroad. Montgomery is just one of tens of thousands of people who reach out to Rainbow Railroad each year for assistance in seeking asylum.
Rainbow Railroad continues to raise awareness about homophobic discrimination and abuse worldwide.
Here’s how you can support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Educate yourself about the LGBTQIA+ movement
Knowledge is power. To be an ally and supporter of the gay community, it’s important to understand the history of the LGBTQIA+ movement. It stretches back further than many may suspect. There are numerous books you can read for Pride Month, including romance novels and autobiographies from LGBTQIA+ authors. If you prefer to watch and learn, these 12 films showcase LGBTQIA+ characters.
It’s also vital to understand the importance of identity, especially with regard to pronouns. Using proper pronouns and gender identity terms is an easy way to let someone know you respect them. NPR has a guide to gender identity terms that is very helpful.
Learn about Rainbow Railroad’s efforts
Rainbow Railroad helps gay, lesbian and transgender people escape attacks, kidnappings and even murder in places like Chechnya, Afghanistan and Uganda. The organization helps rescue people facing “persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics,” according to its website.
Since August 2021, Rainbow Railroad has received more than 6,000 requests for help from LGBTQI+ Afghans. This week, the organization announced that (in partnership with the Canadian government) it will facilitate the resettlement of around 600 LGBTQI+ Afghans, in addition to the 230 LGBTQI+ Afghans Rainbow Railroad has already helped resettle.
Rainbow Railroad also calls on governments worldwide to uphold the right to asylum, resume the resettlement of LGBTQIA+ refugees, release LGBTQIA+ asylum-seekers held in detention centers and increase resources dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA+ refugees.
Rainbow Railroad announced TPG as its top corporate partner. Brian Kelly and TPG matched $100,000 of donations to Rainbow Railroad. You can still partner with Rainbow Railroad and TPG.
Donate during Give Out Day
Give Out Day is a fundraising campaign that runs from June 1 to 28. The initiative has raised millions of dollars (more than $1.3 million for LGBTQ nonprofits just last year) for more than 700 LGBTQIA+ organizations since 2013. Rainbow Railroad has a dedicated fundraising page.
Rainbow Railroad relies on both monetary and points and miles donations to help facilitate rescue and rehabilitation missions for persecuted individuals.
Escape missions are often dangerous, uncertain and complicated. Visas, safety concerns and other logistical issues will always be a problem for organizations like Rainbow Railroad. However, your money and your miles can help defray the financial expenses associated with travel, which can represent the difference between life and death for hundreds of refugees.
This June, celebrate Pride Month with TPG by supporting Rainbow Railroad. Please give what you can to help us educate ourselves and our communities on how to eradicate anti-gay discrimination and persecution.
Additional reporting by Mike Avila.