Don’t Question Sister Sledge. Pride All Year Long.

Pride All Year Long

Pride Month is wrapping up and that means it’s time to get ready to pride all year long.

Be Proud Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

As Kim, Debbie and Joni sang, “Living life is fun and we’ve just begun to get our share of this world’s delights. High, high hopes we have for the future and our goal’s in sight . . . because we are family.” Families live in houses and “a house divided cannot stand.” This is why the mutual success of all queer people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender needs interdependence.

Interdependence means the condition of being mutually reliant on each other (kinda like the eel and the sea cucumber) and our ability to pride all year long requires the ever-increasing interdependence of each of the colors in our human spectrum. It’s our ability to support each other and, therefore, rely on each other that will keep us moving forward. Interdependence is the surest path to our goal that’s already in sight.

Deep down, we know this to be true.

Interdependence Helped Us Slay Our Debt

Just over 12 years ago, we had $51,000 worth of credit card debt between us. We were two financial services professionals living in a rented basement apartment and not feeling all that proud of ourselves. We were financially, emotionally and quite literally in a hole.

We hit our rock bottom one night when we were sitting on the dining room floor of that basement apartment and we made the commitment then and there to become debt free. As a couple, we were fortunate to both be on the same page with our life and financial goals. This was a goal we worked on together. We picked each other up. We challenged and motivated each other. We were on the same party bus for ‘Debt Free or Bust’.

It was only because of our interdependence, our ability to rely on each other, that we achieved our goal of becoming debt free in two and a half years. 

Interdependence Equals Equality and Progress

John Donne said, “No man is an island” and our version says that no one is an island, no person and no people. Some of the queer community’s most influential supporters have been corporate America. We believe that corporate support is at least as important as individual and political support. With the support of American companies, we have more leverage with their platforms and money to change more minds and achieve more progress. 

If MassMutual as an original signatory on a 2012 amicus brief to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) doesn’t move you, we challenge you to not get emotional when you watch their Vow to Protect campaign in support of the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize marriage equality.

At Starbucks’ 2013 shareholder meeting, then CEO Howard Shultz put principle over profits when he engaged in a heated exchange with a shareholder over Starbucks’ support of marriage equality. Shultz said, “It’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” With that statement, Shultz made clear that there was no room for bigotry in his business. It’s because of courage like Shultz’s that we’re one step closer to that year-round parade.

Because we’re family, we’ll end with Tylenol’s 2015 #HowWeFamily campaign directed by Dustin Lance Black. #HowWeFamily features families of all colors and kinds, including gay and lesbian families. The idea of the campaign was that, despite our differences in outward appearances, we’re all the same and we all want the same things.

It’s because of our ability to rely on these and similar companies that understand interdependence that the queer community has the rights we have today.

Interdependence Gives Us Strength

The most threatening foe the queer community has yet to face was HIV/AIDS. In 1981, doctors discovered unusual clusters of cells in five gay men in Los Angeles. By 1986, it was a full-blown epidemic known as HIV/AIDS.

Because of the demography of the victims, predominantly gay men, neither the U.S. Government nor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed a sense of urgency in finding a cure. It was only because of the interdependence of the queer community that experimental drugs already approved in Europe were fast-tracked through the CDC. The drug trials were mostly positive and expedited the saving of millions of lives both gay and straight people.

Because of our ability to work together, by the mid-1990s, the first drop in death rate by HIV/AIDS was seen in over a decade. Today, with the discovery of a cocktail of three drugs that lower viral loads and help fight the spread of HIV infections, HIV/AIDS-related deaths and the rate of HIV infections have dramatically decreased.

The battle wasn’t easy, but it was easier because we worked together. As David said in our talk about a strong queer community earlier this month, “It isn’t just because of our strength in numbers, but also our strength as individuals that we’re able to help our community overcome any challenge.”

DFG SpeakingEven though Pride officially ends June 30th, it doesn’t mean we can’t pride all year long in both good and bad times. As we continue to learn the value of interdependence and to be there for each other and those who are there for us, we’ll strengthen our family, sing louder and pride harder.

Happy first last week of Pride!

This post was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

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