There are a few definitions of the word "pride" out there; the one that rings most true after a busy, emotional and incredibly fun Pride Week in New York is that of "self-respect" -- though the t-shirts on New York Pride March staff that said "Love, period" summed it up pretty well too.
Even in comparatively liberated times and in comparatively liberal places, it can seem easier and even necessary for many in the LGBT community to hold parts of themselves back. When it comes to professional lives, often the unspoken consensus is that any insistence on a positive gay identity remains unprofessional in the workplace.
For many LGBT people, their job and their office is just another place they can't be fully themselves. For those of us who participated in Out at AOL's Pride events this year, that will never be the case -- after all, it'd be hard to miss us now!
From every part of the company's operations and from every corner of the building there was nothing but support for and broad participation in the AOL and Huffington Post Pride events. From a colorful and affirming celebration of the corporate community at a New York headquarters pep rally on Friday to marching down the center of a sun-drenched Fifth Avenue at the heart of the Pride Parade, there was no part of AOL participation where individual and collective pride wasn't present, and no part where anyone had to hide who they were and who they loved because of where they worked.
People from across the company gave their time and skills (and much of a beautiful New York summer Sunday) to an effort that was much more than the corporate window dressing many expect when faced with company-sponsored diversity efforts.
We danced and laughed with our coworkers, we gave them snacks and drinks, we walked past millions of cheering people with them in matching t-shirts. We watched a stellar performance from MTV-featured dance crew Vogue Edition and took photos together wearing silly wigs. We partnered with AOL's Culture Club and found creative places to tie balloons together. We told them who we really were with pride, humor and enthusiasm and we became more than colleagues.
Pride is powerful stuff, and it makes me proud to have been part of an Out at AOL effort that featured the hard work of so many and reflected such joy.
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