Why I walk with Pride

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June is Pride, a month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities all around the world, how far LGBTQ+ rights and conversations have come, whilst acknowledging the work still to be done. It is an opportunity to embrace education, tolerance and the continued rigor needed to moving forward in equality.

Pride for many is dedicated to joining in parades or marches, but COVID-19 and social distancing will mean things look a little different this year. With events postponed or cancelled, celebrations will take place on virtual calls and social media. Members of the Team Wood Pride network share with us what Pride means to them.

Picture of JeremyJeremy Stout

I walk with Pride today because of the foundation laid by allies across the world. Allies are fundamental to an inclusive workplace, not only for me and my LGBTQ+ colleagues, but for anyone enduring inequities and injustice. I have a supportive family, friends and colleagues but coming out is a gradual  process. This process is repeated for LGBTQ+ people many times but this stress can be relieved to an extent knowing there are allies. Many of my colleagues have shown me that I can be myself at work. However, there is more work to be done, in many parts of the world, there are no legal protections for our LGBTQ+ colleagues. Pride month presents opportunity to listen and spark conversation about what it means to LGBTQ+. This year due to COVID-19 many parades will not take place, but I encourage you to show your support, now more than ever, it is important to stay connected. Together, we can build a
better tomorrow.

Picture of AdrianaAdriana Perez

Some say that love is blind. This has always struck me as backwards as blind love cannot see anything at all. Real love to me is seeing a person for what makes them whole and unique. Seeing the race, ethnicity, orientation, gender identity, body shape or religion is important, that is part of a person  and is needing to finding acceptance and tolerance. I support the Wood LGBTQ+ community because every person deserves to be all-seen. I stand for the beauty of people’s uniqueness. I give my support to ensure we have a world there this is recognized and celebrated for each human being. There is still a long road ahead but together we can help society understand that love is love.

Picture of RobertRobert Gersh

My wife and I attended our first Pride Parade in Portland, Maine in June of 2016. We marched with our 16-year-old kid, who had recently come out to us as trans, and some of their classmates from their high school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club.  Joining us were kids from similar  GSAs throughout the region under the local chapter of GLSEN, an organization that works to ensure that LGBTQ students can learn in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. The parade was a wonderful and uplifting experience, as thousands of people cheered and celebrated these brave kids for living  their authentic selves and the allies that support them. It is important for Wood to support Pride to show that our company is a safe and affirming workplace for all. Employees who can be themselves and live without fear are more productive. I want to work for a company that goes beyond written non-discrimination policies by visibly demonstrating that it truly values diversity. And besides, Pride events are just fun!

Picture of MonicaMonica Aquino

I feel that it is important to participate in Pride events to highlight how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, as well as to continue the discussion. This month, we remember the Stonewall Riots and the history of the LGBT+ civil rights movement. Being a part of Pride events as an ally is my way of setting an example to others. These events show support for human rights and help to educate people on the issues, including myself as I am always learning. Inclusion, as well as open and consistent dialogue, is vital in the workplace and being involved in these events helps to create a more accepting culture.

Picture of ErikErik Friede

I grew up in a rural, mostly white town in Wisconsin, and had very few encounters with open members of the LGBTQ+ community. As I went through college, I started to meet more people within the community, and thought that acceptance was as much as I needed or could do. My sister started working for the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin. She became an incredible source of inspiration to me and continues to teach me the importance of being an ally. Acceptance is important, but it is a passive form of support. Action is required to combat the discrimination members of the community face daily. I understand the privilege I have as a straight, white, cis-gender male, and think about how I can use that privilege to support those who do not have it. We have an opportunity to make a conscious decision about the perpetuation of a system that places different values on human
lives based on sexual orientation or skin color. As an ally, the greatest resource I can use to learn about how my actions can help, is to engage directly with the community.

Picture of SarahSarah Applegate

We look like the typical American straight couple but, underneath, lies a secret. How many heterosexual couples do you know that have an out lesbian for a wife? In our house, we do. I met Erin in 2002 after a long-term relationship. We just fell into place, like we were supposed to but Erin struggled for years with anxiety and depression, it took 12 years to realize that she should have been born he. And that is when the real journey began. Therapy, doctor’s appointments, shots, growing a beard – Layne was born and was much happier with himself than Erin had ever been. My commitment did not waver, it never has. II fell in love with a person, not a gender and that would never change. Our situation is not “weird”. We need Pride to teach people how many different types of relationships there can be in this beautiful world. Pride forces us to look at ourselves and our own prejudices and see where we can be better. It shows us how far we have come and how far we still have left to go. Pride is love, and love is something this world needs so much more of.

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