By Paula Dearolf, TeamHealth Executive Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations
Every year, Pride Month occurs in June to recognize the influence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people around the world. It is an opportunity to educate people about issues facing this community.
The month of June is significant to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan. On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall, a popular gay bar in New York City, and interrogated the patrons, leading to nearly a week of violence and protests. The first Pride parade was organized a year later in June 1970. The New York Pride Parade is one of the largest and most well-known celebrations, attracting more than 500,000 people annually pre-pandemic.
People of the LGBTQ+ community today continue to face discrimination and violence. Pride Month celebrations, including parades, concerts, workshops and memorials, peacefully recognize those lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. President Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president to recognize Pride Month in 1999.
Why LGBTQ+ Pride Month is important
The rainbow flag is a symbol that is seen in abundance at Pride events. Many may not realize that it was a gay politician, Harvey Milk, who asked the talented artist Gilbert Baker to design the all-encompassing symbol in 1978. Sadly, Mr. Milk was assassinated that same year.
While Pride events have taken place for years to celebrate our community and to educate others about our community, there are many people who have feared attending such events due to intolerance, discrimination, and the threat of violence. While we have made great strides in protection and equality for many members of the community, there is still much work to do in educating others to help foster acceptance, equality and basic human rights, especially for our transgendered youth, currently faced with many challenges and political obstacles. We must continue to strive to educate those around us as ignorance can foster fear, fear can foster hate, and hate can foster violence. We must do all we can to foster acceptance and equality.
Equality is our right as described in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
What LGBTQ+ Pride Month means to me
There are many things about Pride Month that bring me joy. Most evident are the changes that have positively impacted the members of the LGBTQ+ community as a direct result of educating others. While the LGBTQ+ community still faces challenges, obstacles, and even fear in some cases, I do believe that equality is improving, and we are able to openly live our lives with a greater sense of dignity and respect.
On June 22 for the last 27 years, I have celebrated my anniversary with my one true love.
I am truly blessed that I now celebrate my legal marriage and wedding anniversary. While our wedding was the happiest moment of my life, I was overwhelmed with happiness, as tears ran down my cheeks, when I heard the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015, that solidified the legalization of my marriage. There simply are no words that can adequately help me express the emotions I felt. While this is my personal truth, I realize that many in our community have their own personal stories of triumph that have been made possible through education, understanding, tolerance, and legislation. Changes within our U.S. military immediately come to mind. May we always be grateful to the organizations who have made sacrifices and worked tirelessly to see these changes take place and who continue to do so every day in an effort to support equality and human rights for all.
I am grateful to work for a company that has a culture of acceptance and inclusivity. I take great pride in knowing our organization makes inclusivity a priority and does not allow for the marginalization of, and discrimination against, the LGBTQ+ community and I’m honored to serve on the TeamHealth Diversity and Inclusion Committee to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community.