This June, many across the country joined in solidarity to celebrate love, diversity, and PRIDE with friends, family, and loved ones in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community.
Thousands lined the streets of Chicago this past weekend, to celebrate and embrace Chicago’s diverse LGBTQ community, and Wellman team members stood proudly amongst these crowds, participating in festivities, celebrating, and volunteering in the magnificent events.
While Pride month resonates with each of us uniquely, there is much to be gained from shared experience and reflection. As we continue to march forward, reflecting openly on experiences, how we celebrated and grew, can continue to motivate and inspire action forward.
“During this year's pride month, I chose a different way to participate in the LGBTQ pride festivities. Whereas in year's past I joined as an attendee in the celebration, this year, I decided to devote a day volunteering with the organizers of the Chicago Pride Fest. Even though our efforts simply focused on collecting donations at the gates to benefit Equality Illinois, I noticed something else happening. With each and every person I interacted with, I felt more connected with the LGBTQ community I was a part of.
Some of you may relate to this experience, where you attend the festival and just walk by the people on Halsted street, maybe interacting with the handful of people you know. Rarely, do we reach out and talk to the others present or comment on their rainbow flare, or even notice that there are families bringing their young children into this space, to inform them about equality and acceptance. While volunteering, I had the opportunity to talk with several non-LGBTQ people who were unfamiliar with what Pride was and share my knowledge about how it developed out of a protest way back in Stonewall, to the celebration of equality it is today. Many felt encouraged to contribute to that ongoing assurance of equality, donating whatever change they had even if they weren't entering the festival.
In ending this year's pride festivities, I am taking this inspiration away: Connection is important. Reach out and talk to those around you. Build communities that make you feel known and understood.” – Wellman Team Member
“This year, I was fortunate enough to attend the Pride Parade for the first time in Chicago. I celebrated with family and friends, and even made new friends, as I watched wide-eyed as the beautifully extravagant, colorful floats, balloons and costumes soared by. I was captivated by the camaraderie and the outpour of ‘unified confidence’ both individually and collectively; a tangible confidence in community. What struck me deeply, giving me goose bumps multiple times, was the love and confidence I saw in the crowd. I was standing on a second level balcony, and being a bit elevated allowed me tremendous perspective. I could more clearly observe not only the parade, but also the community lining the streets and balconies. I have been to many parades and big sporting events in my life, but I have never been part of such an engaging, accepting, and passionate crowd. It was as if there was not a parade at all, just a street wide celebration as everyone interacted with one another and actively participated.
I witnessed conversation and connection evolve beautifully and effortlessly, and I even had the opportunity to meet new people, friends now, as we opened up and shared our personal backgrounds and motivations for celebrating—as if we had known each other for a lifetime. What made this parade so special to me was how easy it was to fully participate. Being there inspired a newfound openness in me. I felt instantly accepted.
Lastly, I was blown away by the energy of the crowd, the sea of smiles, hugs, singing, and chanting. As an athlete, I have experienced my fair share of packed stadiums, excitement, and cheering. But the Pride Parade was like nothing I have ever experienced. From my perspective, love and community showed no bias, no boundary, and no limit. I am grateful to have been a part of this pure, vulnerable display of unity. I felt inspired and deeply humbled. I am motivated to do more in this battle for equality.” –Wellman Team Member
In a sea of love, passion, and community, it’s hard not to be humbled. Humbled by the recent strides made by the LGBTQ community and it’s allies; humbled by the wide spread acceptance and inclusion of the crowd; humbled by the confidence, in dress, action, and words of parade participants and supporters; humbled by the organizations who pledged solidarity; humbled by the tangible happiness and passion of every individual involved. This month, no matter age, race, gender, religion, LGBTQ community members, supporters and allies, stood together as equals, as community, as family.