Show Up This Pride Month
By Melissa Lavinson, SVP Federal Gov & Reg Affairs
Each June, Exelon recognizes LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
It’s a time when we celebrate the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and non-binary individuals have had on history, society and culture. But it’s also a time to reflect.
Many don’t know that the origin of Pride month is in remembrance of the Stonewall Uprising. In 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, NY, because at that time, homosexuality and “cross-dressing” were still illegal in every state except Illinois. The raid sparked days-long protests and intense confrontations, as the gay community fought back against the discrimination and abuse.
We have achieved much progress in the last 50 years for LGBTQ+ individuals, but I want to share with you that many of my friends and LGBTQ+ community members have a growing sense of anxiety based on some of the negativity we see lately in our country and world. And, even though I’ve been out for most of my life and legally married to my partner of nearly 30 years since 2009, I know that societal sentiments could change at any moment, and progress could be eroded.
It’s tough living under that kind of apprehension. But it’s why I’m grateful to work at a company like Exelon. Exelon doesn’t just profess its commitment to DEI; our company shows up in real ways that make it clear I’m seen and valued for who I am. Exelon makes it plain that I’m supported here. And because Exelon is “out” about its values, I feel safe to be out as well.
In 2018, when I was working at Pepco Holdings (PHI), part of the Exelon family of companies, I worked with a group of employees to participate in Capital Pride for the first time and march as a contingent in the parade. It was an incredible experience – all of us coming together and sharing our joy and sense of community with friends, family and tens of thousands of others. Afterward, co-workers and colleagues excitedly confided in me that they finally felt free to come out at work. Some had worked here 10, 20 or 25 years. By Exelon and PHI showing up at the Capital Pride parade, it made them finally feel that they belonged.
I want to encourage you all that when it comes to supporting your colleagues, neighbors and loved ones who are LGBTQ+, sometimes “showing up” is half the battle. Be a friend. Lend an ear. Let them know they belong. And take the time to learn more.
I’m proud to be who I am. And I’m proud of Exelon for never giving me a reason to be anything otherwise. I hope that hearing my story will give you a sense of pride too.