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What Pride Means to Us at Recruiterbox

In More Posts... — by Julie Rieken

pride-month-recruiterbox
Denver Pride Parade emcee Nuclia Waste with Recruiterbox CEO Julie Rieken and her daughter Ruth.

June is Pride Month and organizations around the world are sharing stories about diversity and inclusion. We here at Recruiterbox felt inspired to share our stories too.

We presented our team with a few simple questions they could choose to write about. What does Pride mean to you? How can we show others they are not alone? How can Pride help individuals face difficulty with strength and confidence?

The result was these beautiful stories. 

Julie Rieken

What does Pride mean to you?

This year, we were able to attend the Denver PRIDE Parade as a family. Before we went, we wanted to talk to our three kids about the Parade and the things we might see and celebrate.

I asked our 3rd grader, “Ruth, do you know what PRIDE is?”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s celebrating gay people. Like people of the same gender that like each other.”

(not bad for a 3rd grader.)

“And what do you think the PRIDE Parade might look like?” I asked.

“It will be made up of lots of parents who will be there to love and support their children,” she replied.

Yes.  Forward motion. 

Tawny Rose Case

How can we show others they are not alone?

I think the best way we can show others they’re not alone is to show up for them. Listen to them when they ask you to use their pronouns, even if those pronouns are unfamiliar to you, even though you might make mistakes. Support your friends, family, acquaintances, strangers on the internet, when they express themselves, even when you’re not expecting the message they come to you with. 

And in my own life, I try to be visible. I have pride flag bandanas that I allow to spill out of my back pocket. When the weather allows, I have pins all over my jean jacket. I hold hands with my partner when we’re out together. I keep coming out, to new people, over and over. 

Listen with an open heart, greet with open arms. Make every space you occupy a safe space, with pride. You’re not alone; you’re Family. 

Dia Mohamed

How can we show others they are not alone?

I remember the look of fear on one of my closest friends eyes when he decided it was time to come out to me. It was the fear of losing a friend, fear of being emotionally abused, and fear of being further subjected to nothing other than his sexuality.

I understood that this was a really big moment for him and all he needed to know was that I cared. From then on, it became less about me knowing, but more about him not feeling cornered.

What I found to be helpful in showing him that he’s not alone is asking questions about his feelings and experiences. He always seemed very excited to talk about his perspective because everyone avoids the topic.

He has made me understand that it’s not easy feeling like you’re constantly keeping a secret, so helping others burst out of that bubble can feel liberating, no matter how uncomfortable! 

Adam Vinueza

What does Pride mean to you?

I became an adult in New York City at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and it’s hard to articulate the overwhelming sense of panic, terror, and anger in New York’s gay community during that time. People seemed to literally disappear: homophobia, shame, and fear of disease drove the sick off the streets and into their apartments (and then, eventually for many, hospitals), where they died quietly, often alone. This was thousands upon thousands of people just in New York. That was also the time of the first Pride parades in the city, and you can imagine how furiously joyous they were—like mass cathartic wakes.

It’s four decades later, and I have two grown sons, both openly and proudly gay. For them, the AIDS epidemic is history; the virulently anti-gay prejudice in this country that was completely normal when I was younger has mostly disappeared or confined itself to only the nastiest segments of our society. Pride didn’t make this happen—ordinary people did—but those were the same people who started the first Pride marches, pushed for Pride month, relentlessly advocated for gay rights as human rights, and generally made it possible for my kids today to experience the marches as the bright, affirming celebrations they should be. Pride, to me, embodies that history.

Madison Rozakos

How can pride help individuals face difficulty with strength and confidence?

I recently wrote fragments of this poem for a friend who was deeply struggling with her identity. It came out of the strange loneliness that can sometimes swallow you whole—more fervently when you start living a life in a mode where tetchy sensitivities once thrived. 

I wanted her to know the Japanese have a phrase for this dual perception: mono no aware. It means “beauty tinged with sadness,” for beauty or identity cannot exist without a journey. I wanted her to feel as if she were a balloon, padding over a body of water, claiming her identity—a sweeping salute toward her horizon. 

When something strange happened here

I was

anchored to you by hands, my brokenness

arched

over a larger body

of water.

I could feel the bite of salt on my skin.

I was balloons

pale pink and hollow blue

over the sea

tied to your wrists.

I was iridescent

reflections of your skyline

cotton candy eyes

pouring over the water when

                       something strange happened here. 

I was ink

onyx-like a fingerprint

over your palms

rolled onto glass

                     like a dream

I imagine

                     every once in a while, you find

                     someone 

                     who is 

                            free,

                     and nothing else can compare. 

Sara Dyel

What does Pride mean to you?

I grew up in a conservative part of the country, in a highly conservative family, and have only recently realized I belong to this Pride community. Pride for me means being as visible as possible, for the sake of others who cannot [yet]. Though my journey is still ongoing and has struggles of its own, I have to remember to be as open and proud as possible so that others feel comfortable taking this step. It’s not until everyone feels comfortable coming out and aren’t marginalized for it (however minimal) that our work is done. I’m so grateful to be in Seattle and to be part of a company that encourages this aspect of our lives, yet also doesn’t define us in this way. I am excited to see how my answer to the question “What does Pride mean to you?” changes year after year for the rest of my life.

Claire Locascio

How can we show others they are not alone?

My cousin flew out to visit me in Denver for the Pride festival last year. She had started dating her first girlfriend, at the time, and she told me a story that stood out. Her girlfriend had just graduated from Notre Dame but my cousin wasn’t allowed to go to her graduation. Her girlfriend’s family didn’t know she was a lesbian and she couldn’t tell them. 

I felt a sense of animosity come over me because I could see how it directly impacted my cousin. I couldn’t imagine the feeling: to not be able to support a person you love.  My cousin had made a huge decision to come out a few years ago, and yet she was still trapped living in the shadow of judgment. 

I know my cousin is lucky to have the enormous support system she does because a lot of people don’t. I think that the easiest way to support people is to realize that they are no different. My cousin is the same person she was before she came out. I take Pride in her, her strength, and everyone else on their own journeys. 

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