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Flying the Flag with Pride


It’s Pride month, and restaurants are welcoming LGBTQ2S+ patrons inside and onto crowded patios. That’s great, but what does it really mean to festoon your business with flags? Does your business support this community or simply serve them? Does it matter?

It does if you’re flying a flag.

Flags are a symbol of identification, and to identify with something is to believe in and live what it stands for. Flags are so important, some cannot even touch the floor or be used as a merchandising emblem (though sadly, this happens on the regular). Flags are a visual manifestation of lived history, representing revolutions and milestones in thinking and the human experience. They should be hung with informed awareness of what they represent and what they really mean, by people with skin in the game, as a community member or ally.

The original Pride flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, an American activist, artist, and designer in 1978 for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day, as an antidote to the pink triangle, which was originally conceived as an emblem of shame. A symbol of hope and liberation, it had eight stripes, which were simplified in 1979, due to shortages in pink and turquoise fabrics, to the iconic six-stripe version still in use today. Since then, new and nuanced flag designs have been created to further unite unique sexual/romantic orientations, gender identities and subcultures.

What does it mean to display a Pride flag?

Visibility and Support: Displaying the Pride flag at your establishment is a public declaration of support for LGBTQ2S+ individuals. It sends a powerful message to both your staff and patrons, affirming their value and place in your community.

Advocacy for Equality: The Pride flag represents the fight for equality. By flying it, you acknowledge the history of discrimination faced by the LGBTQ2S+ community and pledge to advocate for equal rights and opportunities within your business and beyond.

Inclusivity & Safe Spaces: The flag signifies a commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. It challenges prejudice and fosters a culture of acceptance and respect, ensuring that your restaurant is a safe space for everyone.

Allyship & Responsibility: As an ally, displaying the Pride flag means taking on the responsibility to educate yourself and your team about LGBTQ2S+ issues. It involves actively confronting homophobia and transphobia and supporting your LGBTQ2S+ staff and customers.

Solidarity in Adversity: In times and places where LGBTQ2S+ rights are under threat, the Pride flag serves as a symbol of solidarity and resilience. It represents your stance against oppression and your commitment to supporting those who are fighting for their rights.

The LGBTQ2S+ community is woven into the fabric of Canadian foodservice.

Whether it’s a first job, a launchpad for an entrepreneurial dream, or a lifetime in food and drink, the foodservice industry is one of the top employers of LGBTQ2S+ Canadians.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2021 data, approximately four per cent of the Canadian population, or about one million people, self-identify as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, and a quarter of this population are service professionals concentrated in hospitality and retail. The profound effect and influence the community has played in advancing the Canadian foodservice and hospitality sector is evident and undeniable. Their contributions—both professional and economic—have not only driven the industry forward but have also cultivated a culture of inclusivity and creativity that benefits all Canadians.

Many of the top visionaries, creators, and entrepreneurs who have consistently championed and innovated within the sector are members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. As owners and managers, these professionals often bring forward-thinking and inclusive leadership styles. Fostering workplaces where diversity is celebrated and where employees feel valued and respected often translates into better employee satisfaction and retention. Members of the LGBTQ2S+ community also often prioritize inclusivity and diversity in their business practices, ensuring that their establishments are welcoming to all. This focus on creating safe and accepting environments enhances the overall hospitality experience and attracts a diverse clientele, which in turn enriches the social and cultural fabric of the communities where they operate.​

Flying the Pride flag isn’t just an annual opportunity to attract business, it is a public, vibrant testament to the belief in a world where everyone is free to live their truth without fear and a promise to work towards that world every day, creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment in your restaurant and beyond.

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