The Vibrant and All-Encompassing Spirit of PRIDE

Throughout the entirety of Pride Month, the act of celebrating feels electrifying, becoming a unifying experience where close friends and community members can come together to revel in the joy of queerness and love in all its forms.

Despite the perpetual nature of the coming out process and living authentically, the presence of allies and like-minded individuals joining in the festivities and going out of their way to rally and demonstrate support adds an extra dimension of exhilaration.

For those of us who identify as queer, the spirit of Pride permeates our lives all year round. Recognizing and sharing the stories of those who paved the way holds eternal importance. I owe my freedom and the comfort of embracing my partner to a long lineage of LGBTQ+ individuals who made immense sacrifices in the name of equality and justice.

Historically, Pride Month traces its roots back to the June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. The queer and trans community had endured decades of widespread discrimination, harassment, and violence from both the authorities meant to protect them and from society at large. Police raids frequently targeted The Stonewall Inn, a popular gathering spot for LGBTQ+ individuals. On the night of June 28, 1969, those who found themselves in the crosshairs of the raid finally stood their ground and fought back.

In the years that followed, activists and communities organized protests, marches, and pride parades to demand equal rights, challenge societal norms, and celebrate their identities. These events, initially centered around the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, evolved into the month-long celebration we now know as Pride Month.

Celebrated globally in June, Pride Month provides a platform for parades, parties, and various activities that commemorate the community's history, achievements, and ongoing fight for equality.

Beyond the commercialization that sometimes surrounds it, Pride’s true essence lies in the pursuit of acceptance and support for all members of the community, especially those who face marginalization across many socioeconomic intersections.

As a queer individual, it holds great importance for me to immerse myself in environments that embrace and validate my authentic self, where I can be unapologetically present both in my personal life and in the professional sphere. The freedom to express my queer individuality serves as a wellspring of creativity that enriches my work at XCVI.

In the past, I may have felt compelled to hide my identity, conforming to heteronormative ideals and keeping my true self concealed in the workplace. However, within the realm of XCVI, my experiences and perspectives are not only valued—but also celebrated—genuinely and entirely. A vibrant and inclusive workspace fosters a fulfilled life, affording me the liberty to express my queer identity as a strength that benefits all.

As a concept, Pride encompasses more than even celebration and historical reflection. It stands as an opportune moment to shine a spotlight on those who require our support, both materially and socially, and to intensify our efforts in the fight for accessibility and equity for the most marginalized members of society. Pride teaches us the value of ongoing community engagement and encourages us to extend our support in sustainable and meaningful ways. The rich and deeply-felt history of the LGBTQ+ community permeates the fabric of our lives.

As a queer person, I actively seek out spaces where I can be my authentic self without fear or reservation. Fortunately, I have reached a point where both my work and personal life provide a sense of safety and acceptance. Listening, learning, and advocating for what I hold dear is a year-round endeavor, but taking the time to pause, absorb, and appreciate the significance of June, particularly during Pride Month, remains eternally relevant and vital to our collective efforts as a company, community, and as individuals.

Regardless of how we identify, the freedom to be true to ourselves is an innate need that many may take for granted. I am profoundly grateful to have reached a stage in my life where acceptance, visibility, and the ability to express my true self so boldly prevail. This has taught me that safety and authenticity can coexist both at home and at work. Listening to others' stories and advocating for what matters on an ongoing basis is essential. Pride Month invites us to pause and recognize the enduring importance and relevance of Pride to everything we do.

Pride encapsulates all the love, joy, vision, and experience of the LGBTQ+ community, its supporters, and is demonstrative of the beauty of humanity as a whole. Come June—and every day of the year—there’s plenty of room in our lives for the vibrant, all-encompassing spirit that is Pride. On behalf of all of us at XCVI, happy Pride!!

xoxo, Eden