The Origins of Pride Month
Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots that started on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This incident is largely recognized as a catalyst for the LGTBQIA+ movement for civil rights in the United States.
A year later, the Stonewall Uprising was commemorated with the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, where participants marched from Greenwich Village to Central Park. This march was New York City’s first Pride March, attracting a crowd that grew to the thousands as it moved along. Now, the annual New York City Pride March draws a crowd in the millions between onlookers and participants.
Reflecting on Pride Month, Mark Keats, Vonage Salesforce Technical Lead, Contact Center, Engineering said, “Pride Month gives us time to reflect on the hard work and sacrifices that LGTBQIA+ people have made to push forward political and social change in accepting our community. The huge progress that has been made is worth celebrating.”
June holds an additional significant meaning for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage could not be banned in the U.S. and that all same-sex marriages must be recognized nationwide. Reflecting on that moment, Allison Alfano, Vonage Solutions Engineer said, “The Obergefell v. Hodges decision had a significant impact on my life. This ruling granted same-sex couples equal rights to heterosexual couples and provided necessary legal protections for married couples with or without children.”
V+Pride Employee Resource Group
V+ Pride is an Employee Resource Group at Vonage, led by four co-chairs Alfano, Daniel Hecker-Campbell, Director, Talent Acquisition; Maxxie Noel, Product Manager; and Josh Watkins, CS Architect, Vonage API Platform Team Americas. Together, they work to increase the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community while providing a forum where people can socialize, learn and share their experiences in a safe environment.
Over the last year, V+ Pride has held events to educate, entertain and foster a sense of community among team members. The importance of events like these is not lost on Watkins, who shared, “being queer in any way is something that people often hide at work. For LGBTQIA+ individuals, it can be rough to bring it into your conversations, even about mundane things like fixing up your house or going on vacation with your partner/spouse. Especially if the pronoun used will reveal that the relationship is not necessarily the cookie-cutter hetero/cisgendered relationship. This is why hosting LGBTQIA+ events is necessary. It is important for those in the company to see that Vonage supports them.”
Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community
This month is about teaching acceptance, equity, pride in LGBTQIA+ history and that we all can show pride in who we love, especially when you reflect that not everyone in the world has the chance to live and love while being out and proud. Allies championing the LGBTQIA+ initiatives and movement are welcomed in the fight against homophobia and transphobia.
Terry Bird, Vonage VP, Sales Enablement, attributes being an active ally to his sister and how he supports her. “Joining the V+ Pride ERG as an ally and champion was one of my first actions when I joined Vonage,” said Bird. “Everyone should be free to bring their true self to work, so that they can fully express their individuality and show up with all they have to offer without feeling fearful of marginalization.”
There are so many ways that you can support the LGBTQIA+ community. Whether it’s through supporting policies to help protect the LGBTQIA+ community or even speaking up when offensive statements are made. Always remember to take the time to educate yourself, there are many LGBTQIA+ non-profits, articles and resources available where you can learn more about the community to help you become a better-informed ally. Even taking the time to learn LGBTQIA+ terminology is a way to show your support.
Join us in recognizing Pride Month by learning more about LGBTQIA+ history, culture, achievements and supporting the community, however you can.