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Standing Proud and Standing United

Paul Francisco | State Street Corporation

June 19,2020

On June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Inn, a “gay bar” in New York City, was raided by the police. This was nothing new for the LGBT+ community.

At that time, being gay was illegal in many places including the US. Even today there are 73 countries where being part of the LGBT+ community is illegal. In 12 countries, it is punishable by death.

What made the “Stonewall Uprising” a moment in history is that the patrons of the Stonewall Inn did not go quietly. Over the next couple of days, the LGBT+ community and their allies stood up and resisted. This would mark the beginning of change. One year later, on June 28, 1970, the first-ever Pride parade took place in New York.

Today, LGBT+ demonstrations of pride have spread across the globe as a way to celebrate and create awareness. Allies have joined them to stand proudly united and stronger together. This year, because of the pandemic, many parades are cancelled, but it’s important to remember, Pride isn’t cancelled this year! Yes, we will celebrate differently, but I strongly believe that Pride is not just about the parades and celebrations. Really, it’s about people being free to proclaim who they are and standing together for the equality and dignity of all people; no matter how they identify or who they love.

The effect of being seen is transformative. That is the power of Pride.

As a cis gender (heterosexual) male and person of color, some of my characteristics of diversity are visible, but there other aspects of me that are invisible. For example, I am an immigrant who had to learn a second language to succeed in a new country as a teenager. The legendary Black, lesbian poet Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.” There are many things about my life that intersect to create who I am. That “intersectionality” of identity is at the heart of both pride and allyship.

Members of the LGBT+ community are counted among our doctors and front-line workers, police men and women, politicians, parents of our children’s friends, our military, professional athletes and heroes from history. They are our family, our neighbors and our co-workers.

While these roles do not represent the totality of who they are as a person, being seen for who we are is fundamentally important to happiness in life.

Last year at the Boston Pride march, I watched a colleague hold up a sign that said “Bi”. She said that in over 20 years of marching in Pride she had never held a sign that identified this invisible characteristic of her identity. The effect of being seen is transformative. That is the power of Pride.

Remember Pride is not cancelled this year, but it is evolving to meet the needs of the current world…just as it always has.

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Paul Francisco | State Street Corporation

Paul is the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development Programs at State Street Corporation. He leads the implementation of State Street’s global diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. Recently, Paul was appointed by Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, to serve on the Black Advisory Board Commission.