June represents Pride Month, and this year’s celebration is particularly special, as it marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. New York’s celebration—considered the largest in the world—features events throughout the month like rallies, parties, and lectures, culminating in the iconic Pride March on Sunday, June 30th. We spoke with our agent community to learn what Pride means to them, and who inspires them in the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the individuals who took the time to share incredibly thoughtful comments was Sam Street (pictured above), whose jewelry company Proposition Love makes fine jewelry in support of marriage equality. The company donates a percentage of its profits to organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ community.
How will you be celebrating Pride Month?
“This year is a very special Gay Pride year, marking the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the fight for gay rights. The first Pride Parade was actually a demonstration—people in the community took to the streets demanding equality. I will be marching with one of the activist groups that continues to fight for our rights and inequality.” – Sam Street
“I will be celebrating Pride Month by sponsoring and continuing the coordination of Citi Habitats’ 5-6 year connection to GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), one of the premier organizations in the community. We provide dinner service three times a year. We also participate in their holiday gift wrapping party just before the holiday season.” – Ira Schulte
“I’ll be on the M.A.C. float with my girlfriends.” – Jaclyn Burday
“Since moving to New York City in 2012, I haven’t missed a Pride Parade. It’s a celebration of love, life, and unity that began after the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. As June approaches, I take time to surround myself with friends, attend Queer shows and events, support Queer artists and businesses, and enjoy what this great city has to offer—whether it be visiting Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, Jacob Riis Beach in Rockaway Park, or the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District.” – Daniel Burns
“Every year, I somehow end up amongst the crowd for the parade and it’s always a good time!” – Michael Madewell
How has NYC shaped your view of the LGBTQIA+ community?
“New York City, home to the most diverse collection of people in the world, has impressed upon me the importance and power of community. Growing up in the suburbs of South Florida, I have always had a somewhat global view of the world, but moving to New York has taught me so much about the world and myself. Nowhere else have I experienced the love, acceptance, and fervor that make the heart of this incredible city beat.” – Daniel Burns
“The LGBTQ community in NYC and in the world is a valued, very important part of who we all are! Treating one another with respect and decency is a core human value!” – Ira Schulte
“NYC is such a beautiful and generally open-minded city. We accept everyone, so I accept everyone as I am a New Yorker.” – Michael Madewell
“Growing up in a small town in Indiana wasn’t easy as a gay person. New York City has provided me with a great community and a comfortable place to call home as a gay man.” – Sam Street
Who are your role models in the LGBTQIA+ community?
“My role models are the clients at GMHC, many of whom live with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis. Also, the staff there is phenomenally committed to this wonderful community. Helping others actually often helps oneself even more!” – Ira Schulte
“Larry Kramer: He helped form Act Up and fought for medical treatment and rights for those with AIDS/HIV at a time when the government ignored the epidemic. Harvey Milk: An outspoken activist who supported the community and paid for it with his life. Leonard Matlovich: In 1975 he was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays. Edie Windsor: She took her marriage equality case to the Supreme Court and changed the course of history. I could go on and on and on. There have been so many activists throughout history who have challenged the discrimination of the LGBTQ community. They have paved the way for us to live the lives we enjoy today. Unfortunately, the fight for equality continues and that’s why we raise our rainbow flags, throw glitter and march. Happy Pride, everyone!” – Sam Street
“I admire the work, the heart, and the activism that powers Billy Porter and Harvey Fierstein, using art as a catalyst for social conversations of inclusion and acceptance. A list like this would not be complete without mentioning Edith Windsor, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, RuPaul, and Larry Kramer—trailblazers of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout history.” – Daniel Burns
“My role model is my Grand-Aunt, Tante-Sanda. Tante-Sanda studied général médecine in Paris during WWII. During that time she joined the underground party “résistance” and fought against the Germans. Later she received “la légion d’honneur,” the highest French order of merit for military merits. Her first love, a man, was killed by the Nazis. She became a doctor in my home town of Perpignan, and was the first to practice acupuncture in all of France. She was a well-educated and well-traveled feminist, a caring and respected doctor, and most importantly, a woman who fiercely owned her identity and bucked at the establishment’s norms of feminine propriety. I do remember when I was a young child telling her “Tante-Sanda tu es un homme!” She would reply with an affirmative and loving voice “Non… je suis une femme.” She was the alpha in our household, never wore makeup, always wore a Lacoste polo with a knee-length pencil skirt, her “fume cigarette” with her “Gauloise sans filtre”—très à la Française. I loved listening to her stories, and I have shared them with my children and anyone who would lend an ear to hear about this amazing woman I had the honor of calling family. I grew up with my darling Grande-Tante and never had questions about who she chose to love. Her female companion was family. I think today Tante-Sanda would be very proud of my little world, as I am very proud of her and I carry that in my heart every day.” – Christina Scordilis