When a storm passes by and sun rays poke through a barrier of clouds, a beautiful natural phenomena occurs. Light waves enter tiny prisms of water droplets that are suspended in the atmosphere, bounce off the liquid walls, and gets dispersed back to our eyes. The sunlight then shows itself in its entirety — a spectrum of wavelengths that is magical and colorful.
The rainbow has been the symbol of the LGBTQ community since 1978. And with little to no need of explanation, people automatically understand what it represents. It is a symbol of happiness, diversity, and a celebration for individuals to be themselves.
Attached to the goal of assuring that ArcStone has an inclusive environment, the Diversity & Inclusion group wanted to do more internal events that were more culturally aware. Helping to not only provide opportunities to appreciate each other’s identities, but also acknowledge the values, beliefs, and experiences attached to them.
Photo Credit: Gay for Good Facebook Page. In the Photo (left to right): David Carnes, Lisa Hirst Carnes, Sydney Franklin, and Sam Otteson.
After searching for opportunities for ArcStone to observe Pride month, the group quickly organized an ArcStone outing to the Twin Cities Gay for Good’s Pride Kickoff event at Surly Brewing Company. There was food, beer, and a couple of ArcStone employees even won prizes from the raffle and silent auction.
Photo Credit: Gay for Good Facebook Page. In the Photo (left to right): Sam Otteson, Christine Swisher, Aaron Martin, Davendra Raghubir, Laura Hansel, and John Kyllonen.
A lot of joy comes with the celebration of Pride. Around the country, tremendous events are organized and thousands of different people show up with smiles on their faces. Though having fun and being happy are essential to progress, it’s also important to recognize that there are still storms to endure. As Sam Otteson, ArcStone Project Manager, has said at a Diversity & Inclusion meeting, “Pride is a protest.”
Although there are monumental triumphs that have occurred in the fifty years since the Stonewall Riots, including the marriage-equality ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, there are still many issues that the LGBTQ community continue to face today.
There are many states in this country that do not have hate crimes laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act, a bill to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and make sexual orientation and gender identity protected characteristics under federal anti-discrimination law, has only passed the House of Representatives in May 2019. It still has to be brought to a vote in the Senate, and ultimately the President has to sign it into law.
In 2018, at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. were due to fatal violence — the majority of whom were Black transgender women. Unfortunately, 2019 has already seen at least 12 transgender people shot or killed.
In May, the current administration announced plans to strip health care regulations that provided nondiscrimination protections for transgender patients. The administration also announced plans to allow homeless shelters that receive federal housing money to reject trans applicants.
Doing any form of work that focuses on social issues, including bringing attention to diversity and inclusion, can be mentally and emotionally draining. Opening one’s self to good means being vulnerable to the bad. And, once exposed, it can be consuming and difficult to see how to progress forward. That’s why it’s important for events like Pride to have a balance of both — to acknowledge and be fully aware of oppressive storms, and to marvel and celebrate the beauty of rainbows.