NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pride Month is here and in the weeks ahead, there will be events across the region — some in person, some virtual.
The LGBTQ+ community and its allies will gather to reflect on gains and the work that still needs to be done, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Tuesday.
Dozens of flags have been added to Christopher Park for Pride Month, which remembers June 1969 and honors the transgender women of color and others that led anti-police riots at the Stonewall Inn.
“These people fought back for the right to love who they want to love and be who they want to be,” Stonewall Inn co-owner Kurt Kelly said.
WEB EXTRA: Pride Events Across Tri-State Area
More than 50 years later, visibility, inclusion and representation have grown.
Among those making headlines, singer Demi Lovato came out as non-binary, former NFL player and reality show star Colton Underwood revealed he is gay, and actor Elliot Page came out as transgender.
But in state Legislatures a growing number of measures target this community. The Human Rights Campaign counts 250 bills it classifies as anti-LGBTQ+.
“We’ve made huge progress, but it can be easily eroded,” said Todd Sears, founder and CEO of Out Leadership, a global strategic business advisory firm. “I came to Wall Street out of college. I knew I was gay when I was 4, by the way.”
Sears came out in the 1990s and successfully seized on market opportunities with LGBTQ+ clients.
He started Out Leadership to bring CEOs together and foster inclusion and diversity.
“I would actually pat Wall Street on the back,” Sears said. “Thirty-three Wall Street companies that signed amicus briefs arguing for marriage equality. That’s more than any other industry.”
Out Leadership just released its annual Business Climate Index, ranking the states based on legal protections, family support, work environments, and more.
New York state is at the head of the class, knocking Massachusetts out of the top spot for the first time ever, thanks in part to its enhanced health care funding.
However, Sears said business leaders must do more to build trust.
“Sixty percent of Americans are still in the closet at work, despite the fact that 98% of corporate America has non-discrimination protections, protecting LGBTQ people,” Sears said.
“Corporations, what can they do better and what are some of the challenges still facing the workers in these corporations,” Carlin asked.
“So gay people are voting with their feet to leave anti-gay states and not just gay people. It’s people who have gender nonconforming and trans kids. This impacts a huge number of people, and so states like New York that are winning this fight and leading this charge absolutely should talk about it because there is a war for talent,” Sears said.
Back at Stonewall Inn, co-owners Kelly and Stacy Lentz urge each member of the LGBTQ+ community to be authentic and to be seen.
“People will come out and want to all be together and not be isolated but still remember the spirit of protest,” Lentz said.
The fight continues they say this month and every month.
For more information on Pride events in New York City and other parts of the Tri-State Area, please click here.