In celebration of this year’s Pride month, Jim Misener, Principal of 50,0000feet, shares his perspective with Campaign US on how we should recognize our differences as not only what sets us apart as individuals but also what helps connect and bring us together as a community.

 

Read the full article below.

 

Youre the Difference: 
What Sets Us Apart is What Can Bring Us Together

 

An annual rite, Pride reminds us that times change, and so do we—as seen in our experiences, stories and self-expression. This year, we celebrate with a generation who is coming of age and coming to see themselves remarkably different from those before them.

 

According to a recent Gallup poll, the number of adults who identify as LGBTQ+ is soaring. Today, one in five Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ+—and that number is only expected to increase. 

 

Jeff Jones, the poll author, told Axios, “the increasing number of young adults self-identifying as LGBTQ+ underscores changing societal norms. The kids are growing up now... in a very different environment, and LGBTQ+ young adults are "much more likely because of their environment to acknowledge that and to accept that compared to people in the past who were in a similar situation.

 

Although it is too early to know what these seismic shifts may mean more broadly for the creative industry, this change in generational perspective might be a result, in part, of some of the stories that brands have told to help influence societal norms, create recognition and spur self-realization through positive representation, connection and community.  

 

Mastercard’s launch of True Name, a payment product that makes it possible for transgender and non-binary people to be themselves by providing unprecedented flexibility in using their preferred name, is a powerful example of a global brand creating a more inclusive world through pioneering approaches to product development and brand experience.

 

Despite an increase in self-identification and positive strides in inclusive programming and initiatives, LGBTQ+ youth still remain disproportionately vulnerable to social isolation, bullying and mental health crises. 

 

According to The Trevor Project, more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ young people seriously consider suicide each year and are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Surveying 34,000 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13–24 across the U.S., the non-for-profit organization recently published their 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health which details mental health trends and the societal and social factors surrounding them.

 

Being gay once meant being different. While recognizing the progress we’ve made to today, there is still more work to do in making LQBTQ+ people feel seen, heard and valued. Today, we have the opportunity to help them reimagine opportunities, including roles and role models; and more broadly, to rethink how we come to see differences of all kinds by creating a world that cultivates and celebrates them. 

 

At its heart, Pride is a celebration of the human experience characterized by what is different about each of us and what helps to connect all of us. Although redefining how we come to understand difference will require participation from all of us, it has to begin in each of us. That includes me. That includes you. Our reward is a world in which our differences are not only what sets us apart but also what helps connect and bring us together.

 

As the Netflix coming of age series Heartstopper teaches us, when we’re able to see past our differences and we “don’t let anyone make [us] disappear,” we can often find joy in ourselves and one another. 

 

A great friend once told me that the biggest gift that you could give anyone is the encouragement and confidence to be themselves. As we celebrate together this year, let’s be open to what makes each of us wonderfully different and, at the same time, magically connected.