On June 28, 1969, a small bar on Christopher Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood was raided by the police. Harassed for nothing more than being themselves, the bar’s patrons decided enough was enough and a massive and violent protest ensued. This series of events known as the Stonewall Riots jump started a movement to recognize and celebrate the differences among us—something that today we call Pride.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic and heroic events that took place just a few subway stops away from our NYC headquarters, we asked members of our fierce, strong LGBTQ+ community to reflect on what it’s like to be a queer person in tech and what Pride means to them.
How is Pride celebrated where you are?
Joe N., Admissions Advisor: In Denver, Pride is celebrated through events and parades, but also through fundraising and awareness of the work still left to do.
Elle F., Instructional Designer: In NYC, it’s a month long extravaganza, there’s a parade in every borough and so many parties. On the Saturday before the main parade in Manhattan is the Dyke March —it’s female focused and feels closer to the grassroots movement that Pride was originally.
Jenn, Career Coach: Portland, OR is queer / LGBTQIA-friendly compared to many cities. We have multiple parades, Pride week at the waterfront park, and a "Gaylabration" Pride Party.
Noel D., Growth Manager: Los Angeles has several different celebrations: Venice Pride, the official LA Pride in West Hollywood, and DTLA Proud. The last is my favorite because it highlights the experiences of QTPOC. It's also less "corporate" than the general LA Pride.
Why do you think it's important to celebrate Pride month?
Kari F., People Operations Manager: It’s about being connected and being known. We need to show others that our lives are rich and valuable - so that they can learn to give compassion to others they meet. I come together with my queer family to witness one another, grieve the hardships, and celebrate progress.
JN: For visibility and intersectionality in day to day life. Pride allows individuals to express themselves openly in a safe place with others as well as allies. When it comes to a lot of marginalized communities, pride in your struggles and achievements is pertinent for community growth and acceptance.
EF: It's for all of the young queers who need to see a happy future for themselves. When I show up at Pride, I hope some young LGBTQ+ person will see that they too can have a life full of love and joy.
What does Pride mean to you?
KF: It means knowing you are not alone, you are loved, and through this care, we will change the world. There is so much more that needs to happen, and Pride allows us to fight these fights together and learn from one another.
Isabel CG., Designer Director: It’s taking a second to celebrate everyone that has come before us and realize this is ok.
JN: Pride means being my authentic self at all times. It’s standing in your light even when alone. It means having the ability to know that your braveness empowers others to live freely and authentically.
EF: Baltimore Pride in 2014 was the first time I ever said out loud that I was gay. I am not sure how long it would have taken me without having that space. It was extremely cathartic and Pride continues to mean freedom and openness for me.
ND: It means finding community, strength, and resilience.
What advice would you give your younger self?
KF: Listen to that inner voice - she's there to point you towards your joy. You will find the right people and the right spirituality and the right career and the right... everything. It will all come together, one way or another.
JN: Hang in there! It gets better! There is an abundant community behind you who supports you! You will have ups and downs but you are still you. That is one thing nobody can take away from you.
EF: You don’t have to try to pretend to be the person you think you’re supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with you. Everything is going to be ok and one day you will finally feel at home in your own skin.
What do you think Pride will look like in 10-20 years?
JN: A national holiday! I hope it allows us to take a step back and focus on the growth and progress we've made as a community but also the goals and road that lies ahead.
J: I think over time, more people will be less afraid to come out so it will grow!
RR: More family oriented.
Has being LGBTQA+ had an impact (positive or negative) on your career?
KF: Because I came out to myself at 18, I've been able to always make career choices that honored my core values around diversity and inclusion. I decided early on that working for a place that didn't celebrate diversity was not a sacrifice I was willing to make.
ICG: Positive all the way! The second I decided to be more open in my career, it's allowed me to work on projects I wouldn't have otherwise.
JN: I think it has empowered me in my career(s) to stand proud of who I am. I value being open and know that my identity does not define my ability to do a job or be a part of a team. My advice is to make sure you work somewhere you identify with and that doesn't make you uncomfortable taking up space standing in your light.
ND: Being queer has had an incredibly positive impact on my career. I've found mentorship and professional development opportunities through my queer tech network. I've also found ways to give back through the work I do with Out in Tech—earlier this month we built our 100th website for LGBTQ+ activists from around the world.