After marching in last weekend's Los Angeles Pride parade, with the company I work for, Bank of America, once again having close to 400 participants marching down the streets in our red community volunteer T-shirts, I am reminded of my first pride parade.
The year was 1989, and I was a scared young man who didn’t have any LGBT friends. I walked to the parade from my house and stood at the barricade watching the sea of people partake in all the festivities. The following year I marched in my first parade and was glad I did. Since then, I have participated in every L.A. Pride parade, and this year marked my 25th.
L.A. Pride and the LGBT community have come a long way and have grown tremendously since the days of having large numbers of protesters on the street shouting and carrying signs with antigay rhetoric. I remember the hostility and the arguments. The parade felt less like a celebration and more of a way for the community to show solidarity.
Fast-forward to today, and I can say that L.A. Pride is truly a celebration, as the number of protesters has diminished from a large group to two or three, while all kinds of people participate to show their support — including so many more families and children. As a matter of fact, this year was the first that I get to march down the street with my parents. We’ve talked about it for years, and I was excited to have them by my side, especially my mom — my biological family and my community family together.
Lastly, there has been a significant increase in the corporate sponsorship and support from major companies like Bank of America and the Walt Disney Co. Every year as this great event comes, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to work for a company that offers a safe environment where I can bring my true self to work.
Over the years, thousands of Bank of America employees, friends and family members have marched in pride parades across California alone, representing the bank’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. I can honestly say that Bank of America takes pride in all its associates.
It truly has been amazing to see the tremendous strides we as a community have made in such a short amount of time — from issues of health benefits to marriage equality — as represented in the growth and tone of L.A. Pride.
RICK SCOT is a senior technology manager for Bank of America and a member of the bank’s LGBT Pride Employee Network for Southern California.