Pride Month Panels: Understanding Gender, Sexuality and Intersectionality
During this year’s Pride Month (June), the LGBTQIA+ community at Samsung Electronics America celebrated the beauty of its diversity, advocated for equality, and commemorated the historical Stonewall Uprising tipping point. But while there are many milestones crossed in the push towards progress, the community currently faces complex hurdles on a national and state level.
Samsung is committed to creating an equal environment that supports, inspires, and respects all of our people. After all, ensuring such an inclusive workplace culture is key to our belief that when we thrive together, our creativity and innovation defies barriers. In observance of Pride Month, Samsung Electronics America has been exploring the significance of intersectional Pride and the history of the LGBTQIA+ equality movement in collaboration with our Equality Alliance Employee Resource Group (ERG) through a series of events.
Among these sessions was a “History of Gender and Sexuality in the U.S.” talk with Nikita Shepard (they/them), a Ph.D. candidate in Columbia University’s History Department. The educational discussion reflected beyond the 52 years since Stonewall and shed light on the many pioneering trailblazers who have paved the way for LGBTQIA+ acceptance and visibility. Their presentation highlighted the expansive gender and sexuality spectrum, how that spectrum has evolved throughout U.S. history, and the ways in which it shapes social and political developments today.
It’s important to find the courage to embrace your true self and the various intersectional identities – be it sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, education or religion – that make you uniquely you.
Nikita shared the following historical references:
- “Trans and non-binary people are not a new phenomenon. There have always been same-sex-loving people and people who have challenged the gender norms of society.” There is a dangerous undertone of ‘newness’ to conversations around gender and non-binary identities, but gender fluidity and intersexuality have been documented back to colonial times (e.g. Thomas/ine Hall) and the early United States (“female husbands”), as well as among Native Americans, among whom two-spirit identities have existed from before European settlement up to the present day.”
- “Long before RuPaul sashayed into pop culture stardom, William Dorsey Swann, who had been born into slavery, hosted drag parties at his Washington, D.C. home in the 1880s and was referred to as ‘the queen of drag,’” said Nikita, drawing on exciting new research by Black queer scholar Channing Joseph. “Swann’s courageous life underscores Black people’s impact on LGBTQIA+ culture in the U.S. decades before the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, where two trans women of color – Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – helped to spark the modern gay rights movement.”
For the “Exploring LGBTQIA+ Intersectionality” event, moderator Nash Gammill, Program Management Office Senior Manager and Samsung Equality Alliance National Chair, was joined by Melissa Greco, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Management and Veterans Community ERG National Lead; Anthony Lopez, Director, Sales Operations, Display Business and Unidos ERG member; and Seth Brown, Senior Manager, Mobile B2B National Strategy and GBP ERG National Vice-Chair. The discussion focused on the vital role that intersectionality plays in the fight for LGBTQIA+ justice, and the importance of rallying together to foster community and drive change.
Among the takeaways:
- “Black Lives Matter is a LGBTQIA+ issue. #StopAsianHate is a LGBTQIA+ issue. The Women’s Movement is a LGBTQIA+ issue. The Transgender Rights Movement is a LGBTQIA+ issue. Youth Anti-Bullying is a LGBTQIA+ issue,” said Seth.
- “It’s important to find the courage to embrace your true self and the various intersectional identities – be it sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, education or religion – that make you uniquely you,” noted Anthony.
- “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is gone, but its effects still haunt lesbian, gay and bisexual Veterans – many of whom are forced out of the closet to explain their ‘honorable discharge’ to employers. … And then the fight continued for our transgender brothers and sisters, who up until March of this year, weren’t able to serve in the military without restrictions,” added Melissa.
- “There’s no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us,” stated Nash, quoting artist Micah Bazant.