Living with PRIDE: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

In the late 1960s, openly gay people were an extremely marginalized group: persecuted legally and culturally, and welcome at very few establishments. One of the few places that did serve as a haven for the LGBT+ community was the Stonewall Inn – a Mafia-owned bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. Police worked disproportionately to disrupt its operations, often raiding it under the guise of checking for violations of alcohol laws and health codes.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, following one of those raids, the patrons at the bar chose to resist police force … then gather support for their cause … then riot in the streets. The three-day mayhem that followed, which has since become known as the Stonewall riots or Christopher Street Liberation Day, is widely considered the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

On June 28, 1970, in commemoration of the Stonewall riots a year earlier, the first-ever Pride parade was held in New York City.

“This was long before anyone had heard of a “Gay Pride March,” said Fred Sargent, recounting that first parade. “There were no floats, no music, no boys in briefs. The cops turned their backs on us to convey their disdain, but the masses of people kept carrying signs and banners, chanting and waving to surprised onlookers.”

Reading Sargent’s full account (which you should definitely read!), it’s clear that those early parades, gatherings, and protests weren’t the cheerful, colorful, proud events they’ve become today. They were somber, urgent calls for real change, equality, and justice. Without the courage and resolution of those early activists, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people wouldn’t be able to live as openly, freely, or proudly as they can today – at home, at work, or in the world.

Our employees are our family

As one of our core values is to treat each other like family members, I spoke with members of the newly formed Lenexa chapter of the Hyland Pride Alliance about what pride means to them as Hylanders as well as members and allies of the LGBT+ community.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

“As a gay dad, pride month always reminds me that I was strong enough to come out and live my true self. In doing that, I’ve raised my daughter with the ability to see past sexual orientation or color of skin and live life with true acceptance, without prejudice for anyone. She reminds me, not only during pride month but every day, what it means to be proud of who I am.

– Michael Cox, Technical Consultant

“Pride, to me, is the right we should all have to acknowledge, showcase, and celebrate all aspects of our multifaceted identities. It’s the ability to walk into any situation and not feel like we have to suppress any part of ourselves for fear of a negative societal perception, or worse, for fear of the consequences those perceptions can trigger. The right to hold all our identifiers: gay librarian activist bar trivia champion transgender gardener, for example, on the same pedestal. All of these pieces fit together to make us who we are, and pride is the right to be our whole selves all the time.”

– Lydia Mitchelson, Localization Engineer

“For me, it’s being unapologetically gay. I can live my life without fear of being fired from work or worried that people will think differently of me. I don’t have to seek anyone’s approval for being who I am. I am proud of myself for reaching that point where I can be comfortable with me. I am proud of the community for not backing down in demanding that we be accepted for who we are. And I am proud of society for seeing that acceptance continues to be the new norm, no matter the pitfalls we experience.”

– Jacob Huston-Lowery, Web Designer

“Being the daughter of a married lesbian mother, PRIDE is being able to be completely open about this aspect of me. My mother had lived with her partner for over 15 years before even being able to explain what her relationship really meant to her family. She would often say ‘I live with my best friend’ or ‘we’re practically sisters’ as a way to explain why they lived together. It was such a relief to her to share the real story with us, her family. It was a relief to me, as her eldest daughter, to be able to be comfortable telling people that her ‘partner’ was her real partner and not just a housemate. In my mind, true pride can’t come with negative baggage. As soon as you can be true to yourself and to others, you can realize pride. I’m proud that my mother is comfortable now with her own life and hopeful that we as a community are becoming more and more comfortable with each other.”

– Wendy Bohnenkamp, Cloud Platform Developer

“For me, pride is about living every day with integrity and honesty so I can make a difference for others. It’s about standing up for others when, for whatever reason, they are unable to stand up for themselves. Sounds cheesy, but I believe this is my responsibility as a Hyland leader.”

– Karen Johnson, Senior Manager – Technical Support

Supporting each other on our individual paths

At Hyland, we believe in supporting all our employees, partners, and customers on their paths to pride – especially those gay librarian activist bar trivia champion transgender gardeners.

Jenni Valentino is Hyland’s Digital Content Marketing Manager. She has more than 12 years’ experience as a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Before joining Hyland, she worked as the editor and administrator of InContext Magazine, Perceptive Software’s digital thought leadership platform. When she’s not keeping up with the latest in content marketing, she loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends.
Jenni Valentino
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Jenni Valentino

Jenni Valentino is Hyland’s Digital Content Marketing Manager. She has more than 12 years’ experience as a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Before joining Hyland, she worked as the... read more about: Jenni Valentino