By Jim McAleese / Senior Graphic Designer – South Florida
Pride month is a very special time for my family, friends and me. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (LGBTQ) community, I not only have a personal connection to it, but take inspiration from the community’s history. Twenty years ago saying I was gay might have been hard, but I have learned over the years to embrace it because the gay community embraced me, just like I have embraced and accepted my fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters. With that said, my community – the LGBTQ community – is your community, too. We are your graphic designers, your police officers, your firemen, your hair stylists, and your mortgage brokers. I’m a guy who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, going to art school, serving in the Air Force, moving around the country and finding that my community followed me, because my community is all around me.
Stand My Ground, and I Won’t Back Down
Pride Month stems from a series of historical events that have led us to where we are today. The 1950s and 1960s spurred an anti-gay movement around the country, leading up to the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City, in 1969.
In 1969, very few social establishments welcomed gay people and the Stonewall Inn in downtown Manhattan was an exception. The bar was Mob-owned and welcomed a vast variety of people, including gays, transgender people, drag queens, and other marginalized people in the community. At 1:20 A.M. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, there was an “unannounced” police raid on the Stonewall Inn, targeting the gay community. Even though there were many “organized” raids over the years, this raid would prove to be the most violent with days of hate-filled violence between the gay community and the police. But it also led to a movement.
On the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the community came together at Christopher Street in NYC with gay pride marches in Los Angeles & Chicago, too. Years following, other cities around the country and world would follow suit to further strengthen this symbol of Pride for our community and the bond with the community we now call the LGBTQ community.
Today, the site of the uprisings in Greenwich Village is recognized as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by the National Park Service and is considered significant under Criterion 1 because of its association with events that outstandingly represent the struggle for civil rights in America. The NHL includes the bar, Christopher Park, and the streets where the events of June 28-July 3, 1969, occurred. The Stonewall Inn is located at 51-53 Christopher Street, New York City, New York and is open to the public.
Don’t You Want Somebody to Love?
Three years ago on July 4, 2014, I married my then-partner of nine years, Kevin. We were married in New York City, since at the time it wasn’t legal for us to be married in the state of Florida. After being together for nine years, we said, it’s now or never. Little did we know that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of gay marriage in all 50 states in the months to come.
The night of our wedding, we had a small party and after dinner we thought it would be fitting to have a drink at the Stonewall Inn. We had to look at where we came from to move ourselves forward. Give a toast to those who sacrificed for us. It was a cathartic moment to walk in with my husband to a place that only a few decades early paved the way for such a situation.
I See Your True Colors
I’ve heard people ask where the PRIDE rainbow comes from. Did you know that when the flag was being created, each color represented something? Check it out!
Cushman & Wakefield organized a “Show Your Pride” campaign for the month of June where employees were encouraged to share their stories from Pride 2017 by using the hashtag #CWTakesPride. The company also hosted a landing page where employees could showcase stories, photos and videos of how they celebrated Pride. This is the first time in my long career to see a company I work for do something that shows support for and recognizes that our diversity as an organization is critical to our success and that diversity should be celebrated not just for Pride month, but every day! “Proud” is a word that means so much in June and I’m so proud to be a Cushman & Wakefield employee
So you see, there is a reason we celebrate gay pride. There is meaning behind it. There is a history. We are celebrating that history and hope that it educates many for years to come until we no longer have to live in a world without compassion for everyone.
Happy Pride to EVERYONE!
Jim is a Senior Graphic Designer based in Boca Raton. He supports the firms marketing strategy, creative and brand management efforts for Cushman & Wakefield’s South Florida region consisting of 4 offices and over 200 commercial real estate professionals in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. You can follow Jim on Twitter @jmcal123