Love. It’s a simple yet complicated word. If you’ve watched the news in the past 90 days, love has been seemingly lacking in our global pandemic. Politically charged fights about racial injustice, healthcare and basic human rights have surfaced and as each side swings the verbal ping pong ball back in the others’ court, they are leaving out the most important ingredient of all – love. It comes in all forms, including empathy, equity and egality.

But, as a self-proclaimed eternal optimist, I personally like to believe that out of the darkest of times, comes light. We were granted a bit of that this month when the Supreme Court ruled that the LGBTQIA+ community cannot be disciplined, fired or turned down for a job based on their sexual orientation.

So, when defining what Pride means to me in 2020, I’d like to lean into ARPR’s Spirited Ideal, Celebrate Successes. It means, in this instance, celebrating love, celebrating human rights’ wins and celebrating life. Here’s how some of the rest of the Army of Awesome define what Pride 2020 means to them:  

“This year’s Pride month is extra special to me because it gives us the opportunity to take the movement back to its roots by standing up against injustices and celebrating the voices on the frontlines of the fight. I am continuously in awe of the strength of the LGBTQIA+ community as we continue the fight and live unapologetically.” – Jhaunae Cephas

“In a normal June, the LGBTQIA+ community would be out in the streets with much fanfare celebrating Pride. It’s a bit different this month, but we’re still supporting each other in ways big and small. Our allies and friends should consider donating to organizations this month and beyond that are fighting for anti-discrimination laws and other legislation, along with those that are providing support to folks experiencing mental health issues and poverty. Some of my favorites include The Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign and The National Center for Transgender Equality.” – Patrick Christman

“Pride Month has always been near and dear to me. I celebrate Pride month for my friends, family and the broader LGBTQIA+ community who are fighting for equality and acceptance – within their own communities and under state, federal and international laws. While there’s been some progress, we still have a long way to go!” – Christina Dela Cruz

“Pride, equality and justice for the LGBTQIA+ community is personal for me. One of my favorite aunts came out to our family in her late sixties, just in time for us to celebrate with her and her partner of more than 20 years with a beach wedding in Provincetown. I am so happy that she is finally able to be herself around our family, and knows that we love, support and accept her and her partner – and that we always have. I wish I could have waved a magic wand many years ago to make her feel comfortable sharing her story, but that is a personal journey. The actions I take today are voting for candidates who support LGBTQIA+ rights and by making monthly donations to the Human Rights Campaign to help ensure the community has the resources and support they need to be protected and supported, to be themselves authentically, and to be free to love.” – Blair Ruth Riley

“Pride means inclusion, acceptance, and loving of all those around us no matter how they identify. The LGBTQIA+ community is strong in both New Orleans and Atlanta, and it’s an absolute honor to support this community and their empowerment, especially during the month of June every year.” – Patrick Taylor

I’ll add on to the rest of what the team so eloquently wrote to say Pride not only holds a special place in my heart as a human, but also as a sister. Just like I’d beat up anyone on the playground to defend my brother’s honor in fifth grade – I’d (try to) beat up anyone who wanted to take away his rights to love and live however he wanted today. 

So, I ask everyone reading this, no matter what your political or religious beliefs, or no matter who you love or don’t – believe in empathy, equity and egality.

And while there may not be parades in the streets this year, let there be discussions, donations and safe, small celebrations in your homes, neighborhoods and communities. Happy Pride 2020, y’all.

Blair wears many princess crowns as COPO, leading talent cultivation, retention and training programs for the Army of Awesome while providing strategic counsel and guidance to support the agency’s services and client base.

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