Every June, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies celebrate Pride Month all around the world. The history of Pride Month dates back to the Stonewall riots. Early in the morning on June 28th, 1969, police conducted a violent raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan. At the time, publicly engaging in “gay behavior” such as holding hands, kissing, or dancing with someone of the same sex was illegal, as was dressing in clothing not deemed “gender-appropriate.” i Raids of gay bars were common at the time, but this one was different – the patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided to fight back.
Over the following six days, there were multiple riots and protests for LGBTQ+ liberation. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, on June 28th, 1970, the very first Gay Pride marches occurred in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. ii The Stonewall Uprising did not start the gay rights movement, but it did serve as a watershed moment that would change the course of history for all Americans regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
This history is important to know as we celebrate Pride in June of 2023 against the backdrop of rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and legislation in America. As LGBTQ+ rights are under attack across the country, it is as important as ever for LGBTQ+ Americans and their allies to reaffirm our commitment, loudly and proudly, to equality for all, and to definitively say that we will never go back to the dark era of LGBTQ+ oppression that sparked the Stonewall Riots.
AMS has proudly declared its commitment to LGBTQ+ equality through its actions this month to celebrate Pride. The Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, chaired by Stephanie Dernek, distributed literature on how to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community, which served as the focus of discussion for the Pride Month meeting of the DEI Book Club. Many important discussions were had, festive AMS Pride-themed stickers were distributed, and the meet-up served as a powerful community building exercise for the whole staff. Following this meeting, AMS staff were invited to a Happy Hour at Annie’s Paramount Steak House, a local establishment which has served as a safe space for LGBTQ+ people for decades.
Ryan Smith, member of the AMS DEI Committee, also organized an AMS Staff Meetup at the DC Pride Festival to help foster further community building. Additionally, a memo on AMS’s pronoun use policy was circulated, and staff were invited to include their pronouns in their email signatures. AMS also invited staff to update their email signatures to contain a rainbow Pride version of the AMS logo for the month of June.
Thank you to Stephanie, Ryan, and the DEI Committee for organizing these thoughtful, engaging, and fun events to celebrate and commemorate Pride Month. As always, AMS is proud to celebrate Pride Month as an organization, and we remain committed to supporting all employees from all walks of life through our DEI initiatives.