Pride flag people

Why Perseverance Is at the Center of Pride in 2024

June 11, 2024

In a time of targeted harassment and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the Proud@APCO employee resource group (ERG) has chosen “Pride Perseveres” as our theme for this year’s Pride Month. To persevere and display strength and resilience in the face of the assault on our community speaks to the foundation of Pride— an uprising against legalized harassment and discrimination. As an ERG, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of the activists who came before us and the perseverance of our community in the face of hate and violence. 

This Pride, we’ve found ourselves increasingly the target of hateful attacks—from the hundreds of anti-gay and anti-trans bills to the violence against LGBTQ+ youth, we are reminded that the fight for equality is far from over.  

We asked members of our community what it means to persevere in the face of hate and what this year’s Pride means to them:  

Mary Clark (she/her/hers)

“To me, Pride Perseveres is about embracing the joys of the queer experience. When things are challenging and scary, it’s important for me to soak up the love and happiness that this community provides both in and outside of APCO. Whether it’s immersing myself in gay pop or getting the opportunity to amplify the voices of others, leaning into the positives helps to fuel me to face the uncertain future.” 

ERG Co-Chair Philipp Jago (he/him/his)

“As an immigrant and a millennial, I’ve witnessed the strides we’ve made towards equality—both in the United States and Europe—strides that now seem to be under threat. Yet, in the face of this adversity, it’s important to remind ourselves that our community’s strength and resilience shine brighter than ever. To me, ‘Pride Perseveres,’ is a testament to both our accomplishments to date, as well as the work that still needs to be done to uphold and expand the rights of all members of our community.” 

Tyler Blackburn (he/him/his)

“Many refuse to acknowledge the fact that Pride was born from an act of resilience and a counter to the oppression that our LGBTQ+ family, especially our Black and Brown members, faced from simply having a space to be their truest, unfiltered selves. From the moment the first brick was thrown at Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community showed that it would persevere, regardless of whatever systemic violence we’ve encountered. Even today, when anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans legislation seek to erase our community, we persist and persevere by loudly speaking out, voting, and holding our allies accountable to push back with us.” 

Kika Chatterjee (she/her/hers)

“When others talked about coming out being a lifelong process, I used to shrug it off. Things always felt mercifully easy for me—my family was accepting, my friends were accepting and my college campus was a progressive bubble in blue Massachusetts. But the climate of the last few years has shifted my perspective: For the first time, I feel a twinge of hesitance to share that I’m gay—it rings odd even to say it now and, maybe more importantly, I feel my privilege more than ever. I’m deeply grateful for the supportive circles around me. I find as much comfort in them as I find strength to continue being a fighter in this movement.” 

Saga McFarland (she/her/hers)

“As a member of a queer and trans polyamorous family, I am proud that our household challenges traditional norms. My partners and I have cultivated powerful love, trust and mutual support, through deconstructing the harmful aspects of cisgender and heteronormative constraints and embracing ways of being and loving that are true to who we are. The rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, legislation and violence reminds us that our joy is a threat because many oppressive systems rely on the perceived necessity of atomization and isolation in cis/het/mono nuclear families. Pride strengthens our resilience and visibility, reminds us (and those who would oppress us) that we are part of a much larger community of people living in accordance with their values and affirms our commitment to living and loving openly despite adversity.” 

ERG Co-Chair Owen Stecco (he/him/his)

“To me, Pride is about rejecting binaries, living loudly, fighting against institutional discrimination and embracing radical love. In June we’re reminded of the resilience of our community and the queer youth depending on us to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Our fight is especially critical for our trans siblings, whose protection, recognition and justice are vital to our collective liberation. We continue to persevere so everyone can experience the love and joy of living freelybecause there’s no love like queer love.” 

Mina Rodriguez (they/them/theirs)

“There is no liberation for LGBTQ+ communities without the freedom and liberation of Black and Brown people globally as our struggles are intrinsically linked to the highest form of oppression. In the face of historical persecution, me and my beautiful communities of intersecting identities have found joy, love, resilience and strength. My pride perseveres because loving who I love and being authentically me beyond boundaries and binaries feels revolutionary and like freedom.” 

Tristan Fitzpatrick (he/him/his)

“In a long, polarizing election year, one thing about the LGBTQ+ community stays constant: our resilience. No matter who holds the balance of power, the path to equality is a marathon, not a sprint, and we will continue to network, organize and push the envelope for fuller freedoms.  

Resilience is also about encouraging the community’s next generation to develop life skills, find their unique voice and pay attention to the world—to paraphrase Mary Oliver, this is our endless and proper work.” 

Dan Meyers (he/him/his)

“Having grown up in a conservative family in the rural Midwest, the phrase ‘persevere’ especially resonates with me. Everyone’s journey of becoming is deeply personal and unique, often creating friendships and relationships that become family. In hardships or when faced with hate and political divineness, these family members help me persevere every day. It makes me proud to see the change we have made and hopeful for the work that still must be done for everyone in the LGBTQ+ family.  To me, ‘Pride Perseveres’ is a moment to celebrate our progress but ignite the spark of change for the future!” 

Garrett Ferguson (he/him/his)

“Being queer means embracing resilience in the face of societal norms. It’s this very resilience that sparks the creativity and unity within the LGBTQ+ community, fostering a culture rich in authenticity and diversity. Despite the pressures and pushback we face daily, we’ve shattered barriers by steadfastly honoring our intrinsic truths. Pride, to me, signifies the freedom to build a community and a life on my own terms, celebrating uniqueness over conformity.” 

Richard VanOrnum (he/him/his)

“‘We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’ Dr. Martin Luther King spoke these words in 1968 in deeply different times and circumstances, but I am reminded of them often in times of adversity. When I met my husband in 2003, same-sex marriage was illegal in every state of the Union, President Bush had signaled support for codifying marriage as being between one man and one woman, and states such as Texas had passed legislation to deny recognition of same-sex marriage. The love we found felt far from the light of public recognition and acceptance. We have come so far in just 20 years, but I see echoes of the discrimination faced by us then in today’s rhetoric, particularly against trans individuals. This Pride, may we all find the strength, the vision and the faith in our fellow Americans to continue the hard work to bend our society towards justice. I believe we can.”  

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