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Cultivating Leadership Within the DSM USA LGBTQ Community

Pride History and the LGBTQ Community

June 15, 2020

Pride is unique to each individual person and is so much more than a rainbow flag. It is a time to celebrate each person and what they bring to the LGBTQ community. One of those folks is Jarrel Johnson (pictured). Jarrel Johnson Headshot

Jarrel is a 2020 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation fellow, graduate assistant, a Science Bound Ph.D. candidate and a presidential scholar. He is also a graduate of One Iowa's Leadership Institute. This is what he had to say about Pride.

"Pride is a special time in the year where I intentionally celebrate and reflect on the multiple identities I hold as a Black gay man. During pride month, I am reminded of the courageous and resilient nature of the LGBTQ community. I am especially grateful for the trans* women of color (Namely, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera) who risked their lives to resist discrimination and oppression they faced. It is because of their resistance that the LGBTQ community enjoys many of the freedoms we have today. Pride is also about remaining committed to improving the lived conditions of my fellow LGBTQ community members through advocacy, service and leadership. In whole, I view pride as a time to honor the past, contribute to the present and help to shape the future of the LGBTQ community."

Remembering Our History to Advocate for Equality

For me, Pride is the ultimate reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants. As Jarell mentioned, the transgender women of color who led the charge at the Stonewall Riots in 1969 changed the path of history and without them, he could not be an out Queer person of color leading an organization today. Pride is remembering our history, and it is also a time to celebrate being accepted for who you are and all of the work that goes into advocating for equality.

After walking in the joyful Pride parade last year, my almost 8-year-old child said, "I think I have figured out your work. You are just fighting for people to be treated the same." That is Pride to me in its simplest form. A tiny bit of reprieve from the harmful anti-LGBTQ legislation, the homophobic and transphobic attacks and always feeling a bit unsafe because you are in the LGBTQ community. Pride is a time to celebrate and gather with people who love you for who you are, to dance in the streets and to build community. I use this time to fill me up, so I can keep fighting for equality all year long.

I hope you will join me, along with an incredible group of panelists, on Thursday, June 25 to discuss tapping into the powerful LGBTQ community. You will learn tips on improving workplace culture, how to engage and retain LGBTQ employees and policy changes that you can implement to start working towards an inclusive workplace culture.

See you on Thursday, June 25 at 2 p.m. and happy Pride Month. A heartfelt thank you to Jarell for providing his perspective on what Pride means to him.

One Iowa advances, empowers, and improves the lives of LGBTQ Iowans statewide. Visit oneiowa.org to learn more.

Courtney Reyes

Courtney Reyes is executive director at One Iowa in Greater Des Moines (DSM).