From Frank ... I'm feeling the Pride.
In June we celebrate Pride Month. I love it and am so grateful, even though I’m still getting used to celebrating so openly. My experience as a gay man coming of age in the in the 70s and 80s was much different. That was an era when concealment was the norm, and I often found myself going to great lengths to stay hidden and experienced constant stress doing so.
My first employer sponsored an appreciation “prom” every year to thank employees for our hard work. It was a lovely idea to offer us an elegant evening of fine food, wine, and entertainment. But no one attended alone, and a date of the opposite gender was the only acceptable option. As the date drew closer the anxiety mounted and I searched for a female friend to accompany me so I could maintain a fictional identity.
I know my employer never imagined what I was experiencing. There was no intent to create an exclusionary scenario. But that’s the point, it’s the lack of widespread acceptance that creates a culture of secrecy and perpetuates unfairness.
So, part of what I am celebrating this Pride Month is all that has changed. Today, more than 3 decades later, we can explicitly recognize LGBTQ+ individuals. Everyone belongs. Everyone matters. Everyone is counted in. No one is left out.
I like to think it’s the same at the Village where we prioritize acceptance. We welcome all, adjusting as needed to accommodate differences. Recently a member who uses a cane asked if she could join our walking group. She was afraid her pace would slow the group. Of course, I said, “Come. We will figure it out.” She did and the group adjusted easily.
It’s similar with volunteers. Everyone is a specialist in something. I always say, “If you’ve got a skill, we’ll put it to work.” And we do. There’s a place for everyone.
I’ve been thinking about inclusiveness on a personal level too. Recently, I added my preferred pronouns (he/him) to my email signature. I’d resisted doing so because I thought my name signaled I was male and would prefer male pronouns. But it was explained to me that designating my preference said to others that they are accepted by me, and in our community. That was reason enough for me.
So, I will be celebrating Pride Month in June as an acknowledgement of our national diversity and the great strides we’ve made toward a more inclusive society.
Join us for a Village Membership Q&A
On June 15th at 1pm, we’ll be holding an informational session on membership at Woodley Park Towers’ outdoor patio. The building is located at 2737 Devonshire Place. If you have questions about our community this is your opportunity to ask questions or just listen to the discussion. We'll cover membership types, membership subsidies, planned events, volunteer services and more. So, join us and bring a friend too! We'll share some light refreshments. To register, simply call the office at 202-615-5853 or click here.
Frank Finamore is Executive Director of the Village