June is a month of celebrations and festivities, when LGBTQ+ people and their allies can unite in shared remembrance of all that the queer community has brought to our world. It is a time to reflect on some of the great LGBTQ+ figures who, in or out-of-the-closet, have impacted our day-to-day lives and, through centuries of enduring hardship, loss, and political alienation have reminded us of the importance of inclusion. In a time when basic rights are questioned and national trust is at an all-time low, it is more crucial than ever that we are reminded of our shared connections and recognize community as a means to becoming more empathetic and understanding of one another.
However, for far too long, LGBTQ+ voices have been drowned out, taken advantage of, or written-off by almost every conceivable industry. Even so, these individuals have made undeniable contributions to our world and serve as a reminder to the success we can achieve when everyone has a seat at the table. It is our job to shine light on stories that matter, and June is here to remind us that LGBTQ+ stories definitely matter; maybe now more than ever.
The fact remains; queer people have shaped the world in which we live. This has been as direct as the Stonewall Riots and the Marriage Equality Act of 2015, or as unacknowledged and unknown as Alan Turing’s contribution to computer science and his undeniable role in ending World War II. Of course, the fact that Alan Turing was a gay man did not make him the father of modern computer science, but the fact that he is both a gay man and the father of modern computer science makes him a disruptor – someone in a stereotypically non-LGBTQ+ industry who proved that LGBTQ+ people can make contributions, big or small, to any part of society.
This is one of millions of underrated, underappreciated queer stories that illustrates the impact LGBTQ+ people have had on everything from computer science to the survival of western Democracy. It is people like Turing, Harvey Milk, and Barbara Gittings who paved the way for an openly gay veteran, Rhodes Scholar, midwestern mayor – Pete Buttigieg – to run for the nations highest office. In any case, it is clear that these voices can no longer be left out or diluted.
As a young, LGBTQ+ student – I can recognize that the future is rainbow. I am surrounded every day by a generation of young, inspired LGBTQ+ individuals who, for the first time in our nations’ history, are not limited by their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are empowered by it, and can thrive in environments that support and nurture their unique perspectives. LGBTQ+ voices are loud, proud, and here to stay – a PR professionals dream client. This June, don’t forget to highlight LGBTQ+ changemakers in your network. Let pride month remind you of something larger – the need to include queer voices in the remaining 11 months of every year. Normalize inclusion – it, like the contributions of LGBTQ+ for generations passed – will serve you well in all your future dealings.
Ryan Sherod is a Marketing Intern with Harden Communications Partners and an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org