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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Proud to celebrate Pride

By Troy Parker, Associate Director of Corporate Relations at United Way of Greater Atlanta

In Atlanta, we are PROUD to have one of the largest and oldest Pride celebrations—fitting for the city that “influences everything.” Our annual Atlanta Pride celebration began in 1971 and continues today every October, near National Coming Out Day, as a citywide celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.”

I am very fortunate to have found an environment where I’m empowered to be my most authentic self at United Way of Greater Atlanta. But like many of my LGBTQ+ peers, that hasn’t always been the case. It is estimated that 20% of LGBTQ+ people in the US experienced discrimination when applying for jobs; 80% of young LGBTQ+ people have expressed that they feel severe social isolation; and 42% of LGBTQ+ people have expressed that they are living in an unwelcoming or hostile environment. These are just a few of the statistics out there, and this community continues to be one of the most underrepresented and underestimated. 

I have been told by leaders at a place I worked that I could no longer be the spokesperson because they felt they’ll gain more support if a straight male or female performs that role. My husband and I approach every public situation we walk into with caution to determine if we are endangering ourselves by our behavior or if we show affection towards one another. I have been forbidden from entering individuals’ homes for fear of how my presence would affect their children. I highlight these experiences to bring awareness to some of the realities that are still present today for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride means so much to me because it’s a reminder that all human beings fundamentally deserve to live a life as their fully authentic selves. It’s a part of a much larger movement to transform the way that people view themselves and others. It celebrates our differences, reminds us how far we’ve come, and shows we are not alone in our efforts to make this goal a reality for EVERYONE.

In celebration of Pride and to meet the growing needs of the LGBTQ+ community, I am so very proud that United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with the OUT Georgia Business Alliance to create the OUT Georgia Impact Fund. This fund’s goal is to drive meaningful, measurable, and lasting impact for LGBTQ+ individuals, youth, families, and communities across the Greater Atlanta region. The fund will make grants to eligible 501(c)3 non-profit organizations supporting LGBTQ+ youth, adults and families address urgent needs and secure resources. Currently we’ve raised over $35,000 and plan to distribute the first round of grants by the end of 2022. We are hoping to triple the support of the fund in the coming year, but we can only do that with your help! For more information on the OUT Georgia Impact Fund and to donate, click here

I’m grateful to work with organizations like United Way of Greater Atlanta and OUT Georgia Business Alliance. I’m grateful for United Way partners like Chris 180, Trans Housing Coalition, and youthSpark that have been working in the LGBTQ+ space for years to create a community where all individuals and families thrive regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And I’m grateful for the OUT Georgia Business Alliance for letting United Way of Greater Atlanta walk alongside them during this year’s Atlanta Pride Festival.

We can’t change where we came from, but we can transform where we are going. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting our efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community. Happy Pride everyone!


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