In honor of Pride, we wanted to showcase this moving piece from our Vice President of Partner Growth, Jake Siudzinski.
Pride is often celebrated with boisterous festivals, parties, parades, and rainbows galore (see corresponding Carex Consulting Group pride logo and my header photo on LinkedIn). All of this is welcomed acknowledgment and acceptance, from my perspective. With that said, Pride is so much more than these parties! Pride is meaningful. Pride is powerful!
I’ve heard people ask why there’s even a gay pride month to begin with. ”Why isn’t there a straight pride month?” they ask. According to the Library of Congress,
“In 1969, the Stonewall Inn was one of the most popular gay bars in New York City. Throughout the state it was illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person until 1966, and in 1969, homosexuality was still considered a criminal offense…June 28, 1969 marks the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters that stretched over six days. It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the nature of LGBTQ+ activism in the United States.
…the first U.S. Gay Pride March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to ‘…commemorate the uprisings…in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse…from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws.’” (Sources: https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/june-28/)
A criminal offense. In 1969?? I had to read that multiple times. Even in my lifetime, I have seen my community suffer huge losses and setbacks, such as the slaying of Matthew Shepard and governmental policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When I was growing up in the 1990s, I would hear the comment on a weekly basis, “That is so gay.” Think about what that does to a kid who is still finding their place in the world. I remember teachers in my community who were stigmatized just because they were gay. They were amazing teachers, in loving committed relationships, raising their own children. But back to the question, “why isn’t there a straight pride?“…do I need to go on?
Still today, a significant number of LGBTQ+ individuals have had to repress who they really are throughout their lives, and even more so in the business world. Pride celebrates a shift—an affirmation of who we are, and the ability to shout from the rooftops that we belong. Much like all other parts of life, when people struggle in the darkness, the light on the other side of adversity is so bright and powerful. That light is magnified for us in June!
Although we still have progress to make, it’s important to pause and reflect on the shifts that helped us get to where we are—we need to remember, and we need to celebrate how far we have come thanks to all the protestors and leaders who came before. I often say, I am so incredibly grateful to have been born when I was.
I have been legally married to my husband for almost 6 years (together over a decade), and we have a two-year-old daughter. I work for a company that will take nothing less than having their employees bring their full selves to work every day. Professionally and personally, life is good! Pride month has never been better in our world. My family has a rainbow flag that flies proudly outside of our home—we will continue to fly this flag throughout the year, and we are extra proud to do so this month!