Pride Month celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place more than 50 years ago. On the first anniversary of Stonewall, a peaceful protest was organized that would become an annual event celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, before blossoming into the large-scale Pride events and parades we see globally today.
As with so many events this year, the global pandemic resulted in many postponed or cancelled Pride celebrations. Additionally, the tragic murder of George Floyd has refocused some efforts normally put forth for Pride into protests demanding change, such as the recent march in Los Angeles in support of Trans people of color.
Action creates change
The progress we have made since Stonewall would not have happened without action. The action you are seeing in the anti-racism protests across the globe today, will transform into lasting change, just as they did on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
I’ve witnessed a lot of that change, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, and I look forward to the day that equal rights on every level are simply considered human rights. I’m happy today to work for a company that understands this. PSAV supports four business resource groups (BRGs):
- Black and African Americans of PSAV
- Pride at PSAV
- Veterans at PSAV
- Women of PSAV
The BRGs serve as internal supportive communities, providing personal connections and affiliation for its members who identify with or support others similar to themselves, and providing opportunities for growth and conversations amongst the larger organization.
This was recently echoed by our CEO Mike McIlwain in a statement on Diversity and Inclusion that encouraged our team members to reach out to the BRG heads to ask how they can help and better educate their teams, peers, friends and family. I think asking questions and truly listening as someone tells you about their experiences is an action anyone can take to create lasting change.
As the executive sponsor of the Pride at PSAV BRG, I’m happy to share my coming out story to get the conversation started. When I was younger, I thought, okay, all I have to do is say this once in my life, right? To my parents, closest friends? Just once? Not a chance. I started with my parents, who were compassionate and supportive, but as it turns out, you must come out over and over and over again. New job? Coming out. New friends? Coming out. New brother-in-law? Coming out.
As I’ve gotten older, my view of those conversations has altered. No longer do I view them as “checking the boxes” conversations, or answers just to fill someone’s curiosity. I view them as a chance to educate, to inform, to help break down a stereotype they might have had about the LGBTQ+ community. Twenty years on, I find those conversations enriching. I feel proud of the woman I am today, and I feel honored sharing my coming out stories with others who ask.
“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”– Harvey Milk
What I have come to learn, is that as a part of a diverse group in society, it is our responsibility to educate others, in other words, “be out.” If someone has a question about your race, gender identification, religion or sexual orientation, educate them. It might be what they need in that moment to change for the better. Don’t rely on others to do the work.
Get to know your neighbors, co-workers and customers. Talk to them, know their story, and in turn share yours. It will only make us better humans. Now my question to you is, whose story are you going to learn about today?