To recognize Pride 2021, Foureyes and Adpearance held a virtual event to educate employees on inclusivity, allyship, and forgotten histories of queer and trans people throughout time.
We were fortunate to have a local, queer DEI professional join us to speak and lead a panel discussion with three local queer artists and activists to discuss Pride, queer history, and what it all means to different individuals within the wide umbrella of LGBTQIA+ identities.
- Josie Cohen-Rodriguez, a queer Latinx educator from the border towns of Yuma, Arizona and San Luis, Mexico. Currently, she is based between Portland and the Palouse prairie of Eastern Washington and North Idaho where she is an educator, a community organizer, and a digital content creator.
- Mx. Dahlia Belle, a writer, comedian, sometimes model, and accidental activist based in Portland, OR.
- Cay Horiuchi, a non-binary trans community organizer and DJ from Japan, based in Portland, OR.
- LB (a.k.a. Lawrence Bennett), a Black queer creative, drag queen, public servant, social worker, and activist.
Josie opened the event with an indigenous land acknowledgement before discussing the forgotten and erased histories of queer and trans people before the Stonewall Riots. While Stonewall is widely considered the origin of the Pride movement we’re familiar with today, it’s important to remember that queerness is not new or something that began in the last 100 years. To illustrate this, Josie cited fragments of queer and trans history that have survived from Ancient Rome, Indigenous America, and the Weimar Republic in Germany before the rise of the Third Reich. Through her examples, it became clear that queerness and transness has always existed as an observable facet of human life—and that, tragically, it has been man’s tendency to omit or erase from history any narratives that challenge the hetero-normative, white, Christian status quo that has prevented Western cultures from having widespread visibility into these truths. Through examining the past, Josie’s presentation established a helpful context that highlighted the complexities between today’s mainstream acceptance of queerness and the necessary work that still remains.
During the panel discussion moderated by Josie, Dahlia, Cay and LB shared their honest perspectives on Pride. Their reflections and experiences provided valuable insight for the event attendees into how to practice true allyship and consider marginalized and underrepresented communities every day of the year. With many of our coworkers belonging to various privileged subclasses of society, it was sobering, yet crucial to hear real people challenge the narrative of Pride Month being a pat on the back, a change of corporate logo, and piece of budget spent to celebrate and declare victory while so many people in America, and across the globe, are still being victimized, brutalized, or killed simply because of how they express their queerness. By focusing on the intersectional perspectives and voices of people who are still being marginalized today, we gained a true understanding of the work that remains in order for all LGBTQIA+ individuals to have equal access to the opportunities that other members of society have as a given right.
It was an honor to participate in such a thoughtful and timely conversation. Our shared goal was to facilitate an honest examination of queerness and queer narratives within the broader human collective, and that was made possible by the four incredible guests who shared personal insights and took the time to make the event a success. Thank you to Josie, Dahlia, Cay, and LB for sharing your perspectives and leaving an impact on the Foureyes and Adpearance community!