Happy Pride Month! We celebrate Pride in June to remember those brave individuals who spoke out to disassemble organized discrimination, hatred, and abuse against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community.

While many took a stand for our rights in the mid-20th century, the turning point came the night of June 28, 1969, following the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. While police raids were common, on this night the bar patrons fought back against oppression, which led to riots and protests in the days following the raid. This event galvanized community members to action. The first Pride events and marches commemorating the Stonewall riots took place on June 28, 1970 in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The movement continued, and Pride is now celebrated in cities and communities around the globe to honor our community. 

I support Pride because I want a better life for current and future generations. I remember the fear of “coming out”, isolation of being closeted, and belief that I was “less than” due to the messages of society. As human beings, we were not designed to live apart and in isolation. I experienced my first “true love”, followed by my first “broken heart”, without the support and encouragement of my parents, family, or friends. Trust me – receiving and heeding wise counsel from those who love you and can see situations more clearly can prevent some phenomenally poor relationship choices no matter your sexuality!

It took many years to understand and believe that I was deserving of happiness, and recognize I am also responsible for dispelling fear and mistrust of my community by not hiding from my family and society. Hatred directed toward a nebulous group of “gay people” is much easier to sustain when there is no personal connection to an individual. We have gained greater acceptance than I would ever have imagined through the bravery of those who stood up at Stonewall, and those who stand against discrimination in marriage, military service, healthcare, and many other areas. Yet more work remains! As discrimination is being legitimized on a state-by-state level, we also need federal protection against discrimination of members of the LGBTQIA+ community through passage of the Equality Act at the federal level. 

Of course, “Pride” is not just a day or a month – our diversity and ability to show up as our unique selves requires attention 365 days a year. I want to live in a society that is inclusive and welcoming of all differences in race, gender, ethnicity, age, physical appearance, ability, heritage, socioeconomic background, and culture. Discrimination in any form is abhorrent, and we all have a role in ending discrimination for current and future generations. Love is the only antidote to hatred, and consistently shining a light on, and standing against, discrimination is the only way to rid the world of this darkness.

Pride is important within VCA because we need one another to grow together as a profession. Veterinary medicine is challenging enough – we need everyone on the team to help our patients, clients, and each other, and we deserve safe and respectful workplaces. Soon, VCA will launch our Diversity Resource Groups (DRG) to provide greater community for our associates. I am honored to have been asked to lead the LGBTQIA+ community for VCA, and am grateful to help in any way I can. We welcome all members, and seek open and honest dialogue to support each other. I challenge you to consider how you can proudly share your gifts to help continue this important work. 

“Love is the only antidote to hatred, and consistently shining a light on, and standing against, discrimination is the only way to rid the world of this darkness.”