HE&R Celebrates PRIDE Month
As part of our company's PRIDE Month celebration, this email was sent to our team members marking the start of the event.
For six days in June 1969, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and queer) community and thousands of supporters protested against New York City (NYC) police officers after they raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the City. At that time, homosexuality was considered a crime in New York state, so bars operated without the proper permitting thus making them susceptible to police raids. Although police raids were not uncommon, this event, which came to be known as The Stonewall Riots, served as a turning point in the fight for gay rights. It sparked activism among the LGBTQ community and within two years, gay rights groups had a presence in most major cities.
On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first Pride march took place in NYC with nearly 4,000 people marching from the Stonewall Inn, now a national monument, to Central Park. Subsequent marches took place throughout the country every June. But it was not until 1999 that President Bill Clinton officially recognized Pride Month. In 2009, President Barack Obama officially declared June LGBT Pride Month.
Although the fight for gay rights goes back centuries, many of the most significant milestones were not achieved until recently. The 1980 presidential election was the first where ‘gay rights’ were part of a political party’s platform. In 1989, Denmark became the first country to legally recognize same-sex unions, and Massachusetts was the first state to legally recognize same-sex marriage in 2004. Eleven years later, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in all 50 states.
These victories cannot be celebrated without discussing the AIDS crisis of the ’80s. The ‘gay plague’ ravaged the community often leaving victims deceased within months. For many, the stigma of AIDS was nearly as bad as the diagnosis itself. Some victims were shunned by family, friends, and even medical establishments. Groups such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis galvanized allies to help care for AIDS patients. Other groups such as ACT UP focused on political action to increase AIDS awareness, research, and funding. These groups, and others, continue their advocacy today as millions of people are still diagnosed with AIDS or are living with the disease. Although there is treatment available, there is no cure.
The rainbow flag was first introduced in 1978 to demonstrate the diversity of the LGBT (now known as the LGBTQ+) community. The most common version has six stripes: red signifies life, orange means healing, yellow represents sunshine, green is nature, blue brings serenity, and violet expresses spirit.
In recent years, the significance of pronoun usage has become an important topic in the LGBTQ+ community, but why? Mary Emily O'Hara of GLAAD says, "Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. It's really just about letting someone know that you accept their identity...it's as simple as that." Gender pronouns help us understand how a person identifies themselves and provides support. The practice of sharing one’s gender pronoun has become commonplace in schools, on personal and professional email signatures, name tags, and social media profiles. The chart below includes some of the more common pronouns used. To learn more, including what to do if you make a mistake, visit this link.
Pride Month is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate diversity, acceptance, love, and self-pride, and to honor allies and advocates. HE&R is proud to support this vital and vibrant community and to honor the rights of everyone no matter sexual preference, race, age, ethnicity, or gender.