Recognized annually in June, Pride Month is a joyful celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and their sweeping contributions on history worldwide, particularly in the fight for equality. At Akron Children’s, we support and encourage all employees, patients and their families to be their authentic selves. To celebrate, we asked several Akron Children’s employees to share what Pride Month means to them.
What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Akron Children’s?
I’ve been with Akron Children’s for a year and half, as a talent management consultant in the Human Resources department. In my role, I take a strategic approach to talent management to look at where we need to be as an organization in 3-5 years.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Akron Children’s?
Previously, I worked for a company that makes products. I enjoyed my work, but like so many others, after the pandemic, I took a step back and asked myself how I could really make a difference. A friend of mine worked here, and when I looked up Akron Children’s and saw our 3 promises, I said, “That’s it! That fits with what I want to do and what I want to put out into the world.”
As part of the LGBTQ+ community, what does Pride Month mean to you?
I realized I was gay when I was 12 years old. At that time, I lived in a very conservative town with a very conservative church, and I really had nowhere to go. I had no information, and I didn’t know anyone else who was gay. As I looked for something or someone to connect to, there was nothing, and unfortunately, what I found instead was predators. It put me in a very bad situation, and I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. I couldn’t ask my family. I feared I would be sent away to what they called, “straight camps,” organizations that promoted conversion therapy.
When I came out at age 19, I realized I was taking an important step, so that the next generation — my nieces, my nephews, my friends’ kids — would know someone who was gay. They would have someone to turn to. I can be a resource to help educate my friends and family to prevent that from happening again.
How do you celebrate and recognize Pride Month?
I had friends in the LGTBQ+ community who didn’t survive the ‘80s and ‘90s, so I like to look back and see the progress we’ve made in terms of equality that they would be happy about. I have job protection, the right to marry and serve in the military. We can acknowledge that there’s still work to be done, while also recognizing that we’ve impacted positive change.
It’s amazing to see all these young people at Pride events now. They’re fearless, and I can’t wait to see the progress they make. This next generation is going to do a phenomenal job and accomplish a lot of what we couldn’t.
How can others be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, whether it’s here at Akron Children’s or outside of the workplace?
There are great organizations, like The Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, that can help instruct others on how to be better allies. But right now, the most important thing is practicing kindness.
Our mission and our 3 promises at Akron Children’s are a great foundation. We should hold tight to those, even when we cast our votes, and ask ourselves, is this something that will actually protect a child? Would I want my child to be treated like this? Am I treating others as they want to be treated? As we practice that, we become better allies not only to the LGTBQ+ community, but also to every other community out there. If everyone practiced kindness and supported one another, that would go a long way.