What is Pride?
By: Alex Newland, Traveling Community Operations Manager
Hello! My name is Alex, and I’m a Traveling Community Operations Manager (TCOM for short) with Cardinal! I started my Cardinal journey as a Leasing and Marketing Team Lead (LMTL) in October of 2018. I held the LMTL and Assistant Community Manager roles for about three years prior to joining the Management Services team.
In January of 2021, I joined the leadership team of Cardinal Connects – Spectrum, a business resource group for LGBTQ+ team members and our allies, as a co-chair of the group.
Since joining Cardinal, I finally found a company that not only accepted people’s differences but embraced them and worked toward creating a better company for all team members. In joining Spectrum, I wanted to use my personal experiences both within and outside of the workplace to help enact change and create a space where team members feel included and accepted for whoever they are. This month, as we celebrate Pride Month, I hope my personal experiences can help others feel proud to be their most authentic selves.
What is Pride Month?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month (LGBTQ+ Pride Month) is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) in America and around the world. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist the police harassment, and persecution LGBT Americans were commonly subjected to. This uprising marks the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBT Americans that continue to this day.
Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts. LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize LGBTQ individuals’ impact on history locally, nationally, and internationally. But there is also a substantial personal component to Pride and what it means to individuals in the queer community.
What does Pride Month mean to me?
I went to my first Pride event when I was 18 years old. I was honestly terrified because I had just recently come out and did not know what to expect. The only experiences I had with the LGBTQ+ community before that point were things I saw on TV and in movies that I would watch after I knew my parents went to sleep.
Upon arriving at the festival, it was like a sensory overload. There were people from different walks of life all together celebrating as one community the freedom to truly be who they are. It was my first time seeing same-sex couples holding hands in public and not being ashamed of who may see them. This was also my first experience seeing drag queens perform in real life, and it was honestly so much fun.
This experience gave me the courage to begin the long process of being comfortable with living my life unapologetically and allowing my true self to shine at all times. While this journey was not always easy, and there were many bumps and blocks throughout this process, I can happily say that it made me a stronger individual today. I can openly tell my experiences and stories to anyone who asks. In addition, I like to think that through my experiences, I can be a resource to any team member who may be uncomfortable speaking up or has questions on how to be an Ally.
Before joining Cardinal, I worked at companies that said they embrace diversity but never actually had the actions to back up what they said. When I came to Cardinal, I was leaving the retail industry, where the only thing companies cared about was the revenue brought to the organization. Cardinal quickly proved me wrong that not all companies are alike. I finally joined a company that understands putting the team first will create the best return on investment. When you invest in your team members, everything else will fall into place. When creating the Business Resource Groups and Spectrum specifically, we wanted to create a space where like-minded individuals could connect and share experiences and work together to create a company that is all-inclusive. Through the Spectrum group, we can showcase how much Cardinal puts its people first.
How is Cardinal celebrating Pride Month?
Cardinal Connects – Spectrum is a business resource group for LGBTQ+ team members and allies and has many opportunities for the company to celebrate Pride!
We are putting together a donation campaign with awesome branded water bottles. When team members donate $25 to any LGBTQ+ organization, they will receive a water bottle (while supplies last). We are encouraging everyone to contribute to their favorite cause!
We will also be having a panel discussion with team members on how they have included education about the queer community to their families to foster a lifestyle of acceptance and inclusion.
And for the main event, to celebrate Pride the right way, we will be hosting a Drag Lunch at HQ, which will be streamed LIVE for team members around the country to be able to join and participate in the festivities!
Spectrum encourages team members to dress in their best Pride (work-appropriate) attire throughout June and post how you celebrate Pride on Currents to keep the festivities going throughout Pride Month.