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Time to Pause and Act

Diversity & Inclusion Perspectives By: Gerardo J. Delgado

A year ago this month, I, along with millions of people, celebrated World Pride in one of the globe's most vibrant cities - New York City. Abundantly decorated, rainbow-colored floats paraded down the streets with music that invigorated crowds made up of not only members of the LGBTQ community, but also individuals of various sexual orientations, nationalities, cultural and religious backgrounds, and ages. No matter which street you walked down, you felt and shared pride and joy in celebrating milestones of the gay liberation movement, particularly on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which serves as a historical marker of advocacy for the LGBTQ community. 

Evidently, COVID-19 altered many of the celebratory activities of Pride this year. Despite the circumstances, the pandemic has not extinguished commemorating new milestones like the Supreme Court's recent holding that federal law prohibits employment discrimination against LGBTQ employees. Some have celebrated this historic decision, as well as drawn awareness to other LGBTQ social causes, through social media, participating in demonstrations, and leveraging other platforms that have caught the world's attention.

Nevertheless, it is my belief that it is just as important to pause for self-reflection during this time. For me, this process involves acknowledging and being proud of the adversity that others and I have overcome, especially the trailblazers before us; gratitude for the unconditional support from family, friends, and colleagues; and identifying how I can further benefit the community. However, this purposeful practice during Pride is not limited to the LGBTQ community. All members of society must pause for self-reflection because, in order to authentically value and grow diversity and inclusion, everyone must personally and collectively evolve and drive change.

After a moment of pause, we must also act. Action can happen in many ways. Educating ourselves on issues and supporting one of the many organizations dedicated to advancing the rights and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community are worthwhile contributions to the sphere of impact. For instance, the Center on Halsted, an LGBTQ community center in Chicago, is currently working on growing its resources to expand the center's social work and mental health offerings. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the organization pivoted to a virtual platform to offer these services and it resulted in an exponential increase in demand from communities not only in Chicago but also throughout and outside the State, which they were formerly unable to reach. Therefore, working with and supporting organizations, like the Center of Halsted, has the potential to address critical needs and champion the LGBTQ community, and benefit society as a whole.

There is no question that there is unrest in the world right now; but, if we take the time to pause for retrospection and act individually and collectively for the greater good, this practice will assist in achieving peace and equity for all.

Gerardo J. Delgado is an Associate in the Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Group in the Chicago office.

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