As Pride Month comes to a close, 360i employees took some time to reflect. With the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in the forefront of many minds, it is important to learn the ways to be a better ally, to gain a higher level of empathy and to spread acceptance. 360i employees from a range of departments answered some questions about what Pride means to them.
What does the 50th anniversary of Stonewall mean to you?
That’s simple… the 50thAnniversary of Stonewall is the spark that made it possible for me to live the life I do today. Today, because of Stonewall, we have more acceptance, but we certainly can’t be complacent. Pride is more than a party, Stonewall was more than a riot – it’s respect for the fierce brothers and sisters of our past that used that spark to light a fire that burns away bigotry, hatred and fear… for all of us.
Simply put, my family couldn’t exist were it not for those who lit the path during the Stonewall movement 50 years ago. Pride is about visibility, and I owe much gratitude to these trailblazers who refused to accept a society that left the LGBTQIA population in hiding. To the transgender community, whose rights are particularly at risk right now: I see you.
It means a huge deal to me as it marks a change of acceptance that started slow but has accelerated in the past ten years that I’ve lived in NYC. In 2009, if someone had told me that I’d have the rights as a gay man that I do now, I don’t know that I would have believed them… I’m eternally grateful for all of those who have fought for our rights and I am thrilled to celebrate during World Pride.”
What is a message of support that you would offer to a LGBTQIA+ youth? OR senior?
Just know that generations before us fought for these rights and these privileges. But we still have long ways to go for the future generation of [the] LGBTQIA+ community. We should all be working and voting to change unfair policies to ensure that current and future communities can enjoy the freedom and rights that you and I can only imagine having.
People can be cruel and make you feel like you’re less than or that you don’t belong. The truth is these people don’t matter and you need to find the people who do matter – your tribe. It might take some time to get there but if you hang on, I promise that the universe will show you the way and before you know it, you’ll be in a place full of love, acceptance, and belonging.
How are you an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
My younger brother is my only sibling, one of my closest friends, and the most loyal person I have ever known. In conservative Texas, it was really difficult for him to come out to my family, so I think my role as an LGBTQIA+ ally is to reinforce the idea of acceptance every chance I get.
I try to be a good listener. To stand up when I see inequity. To make acceptance the standard. And to not make assumptions – but learn from it when I forget. We are all imperfect, but we must strive to be better for each other every day.
As part of the community, just sharing my story and supporting where I can. It is the one thing in my life that I can own and call my own, which makes for a powerful statement when people have reservations or come out against our community.
I’ve known the guy next to me for 20 years and besides being good friends, I’ve been supportive of him when his parents could not accept that he was gay. Many weekends were spent hanging out, playing video games and taking his mind off of it. Most recently, I had the pleasure of attending his sailor themed wedding and I couldn’t be prouder.