Showing your Pride was not always possible publicly in the United States where too often LGBTQIA+ people could face harassment, termination from their place of employment and additional barriers keeping them from being able to fully participate in society. There have been many activists, court cases, protests and unsung heroes from the LGBTQIA+ community who have made movement toward equality a fight worth waging.
How Pride Started: Stonewall Uprising and the Christopher Street Liberation Day 1970
The Stonewall Inn was one of the few places LGBTQIA+ people could come together because most establishments would not permit LGBTQIA+ patrons. On June 28, 1969, after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City, the Stonewall Uprising became a catalyst for the gay rights movement in America and around the world. Pride Month is recognized in June in the U.S. and throughout parts of the world to honor the events at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.
“Pride Month is important in many ways because it provides an international stage to have a greater international impact. Pride Month spreads awareness and reminds people that we exist,” says Vonage Deal Desk Analyst, Jolyn Yio. Pride Month is also a time to recognize the oppression LGBTQIA+ people still face, also to acknowledge the impact LGBTQIA+ people have had in the world and to take a moment to remind us all how far gay rights have come and how much more still needs to be accomplished.”
Out and Proud trailblazers in STEM
Recently, there have been more initiatives to recognize LGBTQIA+ contributors within the STEM community. The organization Pride in STEM, a charitable trust, led by an independent group of LGBTQIA+ scientists & engineers from around the world works to highlight LGBTQIA+ people in STEM fields. Another campaign, 500 Queer Scientists works to raise visibility through collecting self-submitted stories to show the next STEM generation that there are out LGBTQIA+ role models.
Throughout history, while there have been people from the LGBTQIA+ community who have worked in STEM fields, the ability to work and be an openly LGBTQIA+ member was and is not always possible. In the United States, until 1975, gay men and women were banned from working in the federal departments, which excluded them from pursuing research at universities or many academic careers. Lynn Conway, a computer scientist who made discoveries that power smartphones and computers, is recognized as a pioneer of microelectronics chip design. But in 1968, she was fired from her job when her company’s CEO learned that she was beginning the process of transitioning from male to female. She persevered and in early 1969, after her transition she began working as a programmer. It wasn’t until 2000, that she decided to come out publicly, more than 30 years after she transitioned. We hope as the years go on that Lynn’s story will be the exception and that the LGBTQIA+ community will continue to make these kinds of amazing contributions to the world while having the ability to be out and proud wherever they choose to work. But we also recognize that STEM fields need to do more to provide an inclusive environment and to encourage diversity in STEM to help move the field forward in a way that reflects us all.
Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community
This month is about teaching acceptance, equity, pride in LGBTQIA+ history and that we all can show pride in who we love, especially when you reflect that not everyone in the world has the chance to live and love while being out and proud. “There are still places in the world where individuals are harassed or killed for simply being who they are. Pride is important because it says unequivocally, I am not afraid. That message is SO important for folks to hear, it literally saves people’s lives,” says Vonage Senior Organizational Excellence Consultant, Austin King.
There are so many ways that you can support the LGBTQIA+ community. Remember to take the time to educate yourself, there are many LGBTQIA+ non-profits, articles and resources available where you can learn more about the community to help you become a better-informed ally. Even taking the time to learn LGBTQIA+ terminology is a way to show your support.
Vonage Customer Solutions Architect, API, Josh Watkins, even acknowledges the important role allies can have in supporting LGBTQIA+ rights, “I think Athlete Ally is a great group that gives talks to schools, colleges, and professional sports teams about inclusion. It was started by Hudson Taylor who used to wear a Human Rights Campaign logo on the side of his wrestling headgear even though he wasn’t gay. The positive feedback he received from this act inspired him to launch Athlete Ally which has grown to include a group of very influential athletes across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.” Whether you’re an ally championing LGBTQIA+ initiatives or if you’re on the front lines working to help make the world a more inclusive and safer place for you and LGBTQIA+ people, this is a cause where all are welcome.
Join us in recognizing Pride Month by learning more about LGBTQIA+ history, culture, achievements and supporting the community however you can.