For me, Pride Month is not just a celebration; it’s a testament to the enduring fight for equality and human rights.

Reflecting on my own journey, from coming out at the age of 17 during the early days of the AIDS epidemic and feeling extremely isolated in my hometown in New Jersey to today leading GLOW Europe, our LGBTQ+ employee resource group at Dentons, I see a thread of resilience and transformation.

My career took me from the United States to Europe, where I have spent the last three decades – 28 years in Kyiv, and following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the last two in Warsaw. This move brought to light profound issues of inequality faced by the LGBTQ+ community, which reignited my passion for activism.

The war has exacerbated these struggles for the Ukrainian LGBTQ+ community, as seen in their ongoing fight for basic rights. For example, when the war broke out, I did some pro bono work with NGOs such as Safebow and Equaversity to support their efforts to provide access to medical supplies for transgender as well as HIV-infected Ukrainians and to assist transgender Ukrainians with an “M” gender market on their passports who were unable to leave the country due to the martial law prohibition on men aged 18-60.

As the war continues, my thoughts are with the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine, and in particular those who are serving in the military. Despite serving their country with bravery, LGBTQ+ soldiers still do not enjoy the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Their ability to marry or enter into civil unions, access benefits, or even ensure their partners’ welfare remains unrecognized by law. This stark reality underscores the urgent need for legal reforms that honour their sacrifices and affirm their humanity.

In Poland, where I now live, the LGBT+ community also faces discrimination. Although there is a glimmer of hope with the new liberal government, the road to substantive legal changes is fraught with challenges.  The struggle to recognize same-sex marriages and protect against hate speech illustrates the broader societal biases that LGBTQ+ individuals endure daily.   I recall a few years back, a Polish newspaper distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers to local businesses to make LGBTQ+ residents know they were not welcome.  One of my Dentons colleagues, the late Igor Ostrowski, joined a group of activists who successfully challenged the newspaper in court.  This shows the power of the law to stop violations of human rights.

These stories of resilience amidst adversity are why Pride still matters. It is a beacon of hope, a call for justice, and a reminder that the fight for equality is far from over. For example, did you know that – according to Human Dignity Trust  it is still illegal today to be LGBTQ+ in 64 countries around the world? As lawyers, we have a unique platform and responsibility to advocate for change. Our pro bono efforts, engagement and visible support in the local community and with our clients are vital steps in this ongoing battle for equality. Our continued commitment to championing LGBTQ+ rights in the communities where we live and work is essential. By fostering an inclusive workplace, we not only support our LGBTQ+ colleagues but also set a precedent for broader societal change.

Acceptance, inclusivity and equality in the workplace are critical, but they must extend beyond our office walls. The pressure of societal bias and the lack of legal protections impact our LGBTQ+ colleagues in ways that their heterosexual peers may not experience. Understanding these challenges is crucial to fostering a truly inclusive environment.

As I look at the pictures from the recent Kyiv Pride, which was the first Pride event held in Kyiv since the start of the war, I am reminded of the bravery and determination of those who marched despite the risks and those who fight both an external enemy and internal opposition to their very existence – all to realize their desire to live in a country with the same basic freedoms enjoyed by those of us living in countries like the UK and other western democracies. Their courage is a powerful testament to why Pride matters – not just in June, but every day.

As we commemorate Pride Month, let us renew our commitment to standing as allies with all of our diverse colleagues and advocating for their rights. Our actions today will shape a more inclusive and just tomorrow and will ensure that we remain a beacon of hope for those aspiring to live in a more inclusive and just society.

Adam Mycyk is a partner at Dentons