June marks Pride Month in the United States, in honor of the Stonewall uprising that occurred in 1969. This was not the first time that police raided a gay bar, and it wasn’t the first time LGBTQIA+ people fought back. But those six days of protest at the Stonewall Inn would spark a new dialogue about LGBTQIA+ rights and activism, and those protestors helped inspire much of the change we’ve seen in the United States over the last 50 years.
The legacy of the Stonewall uprising wouldn’t remain as strong as it is today without our commitment to retelling the stories of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and the other Stonewall Inn protestors.
Out for Good & Allies—the foundation’s employee resource group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex staff, and their allies—recognizes the important role that storytelling can play to promote visibility and greater understanding of the issues relevant to our community today.
That’s why, for Pride Month 2023, we took the opportunity to highlight our own employee stories.
Colors That Make Us featured personal stories of foundation employees—anonymously submitted and read by allies across the foundation. The stories of our colleagues served as a reminder that we all come to our work with different perspectives and stories filled with resiliency, hope, bravery, courage, and empathy. Here are a few excerpts:
We all have our own initial coming out stories, some that may impact the way we choose to come out at work or in line at the grocery store when someone notices my ring. I make a choice almost daily on whether to come out. I go through a series of questions to determine the risk vs. reward.
Am I safe? Is this a safe person?
Is it worth it? And for me, most of the time – I find that the reward of being unapologetically, authentically, and transparently me is far greater than the risk – the risk in these instances is betraying myself, the life I’ve built with my partner, and the Queer activists that came before me.
And then a window opened – I came to the US. And on that first day I stepped on this soil, I said to myself, here’s your chance. You can be – just you. Not someone who has to put on a mask but someone who can be out and proud of who I am. So I've done just that since 2007.
Has it been all smooth sailing? No – but the freedom and lightness of just being me is priceless. Also, being a gay person of color in the US brings a whole lot of other issues. …
Where do I belong? If not here, then where?
So I dug deep, back to my roots, to my childhood truths. What did I value, before society told me what I should? If I threw out the book, the script, the rules, the limits, what did happiness look like? I stumbled on a phrase, my key, that let me hear my own thoughts: "If it were entirely up to me..."
The epiphany that I didn't have to be myself *within the range of what was accepted*, but could simply be myself...
The subtle but profound difference between taking the role you were handed and making the best of it, and deciding—clean slate, innocent, heart and arms wide open— who *you* want to be...
Who *would* you be, if it were entirely up to you?
We were also honored to be joined by Roderick Ferguson who spoke with us about: "The Energy We Generate: The Queer and Critical Legacies of HBCUs.”
Throughout the month, Out for Good & Allies hosted a skate night, bingo, a DJ hosted sip and spin event, along with marching in the Seattle Pride parade and organizing a donation drive to support LGBTQIA+-serving organizations.
Thanks to our Out for Good & Allies, Women Connect, and Black Philanthropic Partners employee resource groups for spearheading a month full of reflection and celebration.