Pride isn’t all rainbows and glitter. Sure, that’s a fun part of it. There is significant progress in the LGBTQ community that deserves to be celebrated. But as we fly our rainbow flags and march together this June, let’s not forget about the origins of Pride — a riot born out of the need for radical change. A recent report from The Trevor Project about youth mental health in the LGBTQ community shows us that our work to raise public awareness and acceptance is not done.
As we celebrate Pride, let’s also remember to focus on things we can do every day to help everyone feel accepted, welcome, and safe.
The origins of Pride
June became Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York City in June 1969. Like the protests that occurred in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Pride stemmed from protests about police violence.
Many of the early Pride leaders were people of color and transgender or gender-nonconforming activists whose identities were criminalized and faced disproportionate violence. Without the actions of these leaders, LGBTQ rights and visibility would not exist as they are today.
So it’s appropriate that our attention during Pride comes back to the intersections of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Despite victories that protect our rights to marriage equality and freedom from discrimination in the workplace, our joy is tempered by the knowledge that we still have work to do to achieve equity for all of us.
Growing Premera’s involvement in Pride
When Premera Blue Cross first sponsored Seattle Pride in 2017, Premera employees and families proudly marched through downtown Seattle alongside many of our biggest customers in support of the LGBTQ community.
In 2018, our Pride grew. We added more people to our ranks for the Seattle Pride Parade and marched alongside Cocoon House, which provides social services, including outreach, housing, and prevention to more than 2,500 young people and their families each year. Premera helped provide funding for a new Cocoon House youth center and additional funding for its housing program for youth and young adults.
We worked with Cocoon House to raise awareness of the disproportionate number of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ and how their organization supports them, with help from corporate donors like Premera. Premera also began sponsoring Spokane Pride Parade in 2018, with participation from our Spokane-area employees.
In 2019, we formed a Pride Workgroup to engage our employees in planning and support for Pride at Premera. Early in the group’s discussions, we talked about how to do more to support our LGBTQ employees, customers, and people in our community.
This year, we’re excited to participate in virtual and in-person celebrations, as part of our ongoing sponsorship of Seattle Pride. We’re also encouraging our employees to take steps to be more inclusive of gender diverse people by sharing personal pronouns.
Sharing our pronouns with Pride
We use pronouns, such as he/him, she/her, they/them, to refer to each other without using names. Using pronouns is a simple way to show respect and support for transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse coworkers and other people with whom we interact. It helps remove assumptions about someone’s pronouns based on their appearance or name. You can learn more about pronouns and why they matter at mypronouns.org.
Here are a few simple ways you can share your pronouns:
- Add them to your email signature
- Add them to your social media profiles (LinkedIn now allows you to add pronouns to your intro, next to your name)
- Add them to your introductions during virtual meetings
- Talk to your HR department about adding them to your employee profiles or workforce management software
You can also use virtual backgrounds we created to share during meetings and Pride celebrations. In addition to the pronoun backgrounds, you’ll find backgrounds that display the Progress Pride Flag, created in 2018 by designer Daniel Quasar. This flag emphasizes the progress still needed to support trans and nonbinary people, marginalized people of color, and people living with AIDS, as well as those lost to the disease.
We hope these backgrounds help spark inclusive actions and conversations during Pride month and beyond. If you enjoy them, please share them. Feel free to tag Premera in your posts on social media, so we can celebrate with you!