Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer
The month of June is celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride month, and while so many of the ways Pride month has been traditionally celebrated have been canceled due to COVID-19, I wanted to share a few thoughts about Pride.
First, Pride is about understanding and accepting who you are. Regardless of external validation, we owe it to ourselves to accept who we are individually, and personally. Pride isn’t just a celebration one month out of the year…it is a way of living year-round. For me, it’s about who I am all the time.
Secondly, Pride was about, and continues to be about equality, and civil rights. A leader in the civil rights movement, right along with Martin Luther King, Jr. was Bayard Rustin, a gay, Black man. It is so important to understand the intersectionality in our struggle for a better, more equitable society. Bayard Rustin said, ““You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people.” I believe, just as one of our values at One Hope United states, that our hope must be turned into action.
Third, Pride, while about equality and civil rights, is also about equitably providing services. As a child and family welfare service organization, One Hope United does not believe that just because an individual or couple is LGBTQ+ that they should be barred from providing foster care, or adopting, for example. And in our residential centers, we’ve worked to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth not only feel safe, but also have the support and respect needed from our staff.
Lastly, I believe that you should bring your full, whole self to every single circumstance, situation and experience. Be authentic. As an African American gay man, advocate, attorney and other characteristics, it is important that I bring all of myself to my mission building and mission movement service. I understand what it is like to be the “other” in the room- the only African-American, or gay man in a room, and I’ve not spoken my truth at times because of feeling inadequate. What I refer to as Identityphobia stifled my voice, presence and contribution. That is why I’m passionate about the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative at One Hope United.
However, you choose to embrace your identity, and have celebrated Pride this month, I hope you celebrate who you are every day.