Pride: A Staff Perspective 2024

  • July 13, 2024

Our LGBTQIA+ members and staff, as well as their allies, are deeply impacted by Pride month. In honor of their experiences, we are sharing what it means to be a part of this community through their perspectives and stories. 

Both staff members volunteered to be interviewed during our monthly Squad 74 meeting. Squad 74 is one of Credit Union ONE’s employee resource groups (ERGs) and a part of the credit union’s DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiative for our LGBTQIA+ community and allies.

Squad 74 is named after the Equality Act of 1974 which prohibited discrimination in federally funded programs and financial institutions based on gender, sexual orientation, and marital status. This group meets monthly to promote awareness and discussion of the issues the LGBTQIA+ community faces in the workplace and in society. The group is open to all staff.

Rashondra: 

Rashondra's portraitRashondra has been with Credit Union ONE for 7 years and currently manages staff and helps them with member needs. Rashondra is a proud mom as well as dog mom to Ringo and Dyson. 

Q: What is your story?

A: I have always been an ally and I’ve been lucky to see what being an ally is like since I was a young child. I’ve known friends and family that are a part of the community but haven’t fully come out yet. They couldn’t bring their partners around family events or even be open about themselves. But they were always protective of others and always made sure that others felt loved. When I was a teenager, I started hanging out at Affirmations in Ferndale on Friday and Saturday nights. I started to learn more about what it means to be trans, what pronouns are, and more about different identities before it became more mainstream. I remember someone coming in that was male presenting but then they’d put on a wig and dress, and you could see their true selves come out. It hurt seeing that light leave when they had to take it off when they left. 
When Squad 74 started at Credit Union ONE, I joined immediately. I loved seeing everyone at Pride and our volunteers at our tent.

Q: What are your pronouns, and why do you think respecting people’s pronouns is important?

A: I do use the pronouns She/Her. I use pronouns that reflect my identity but it’s important to be mindful of other people’s pronouns because sometimes they don’t match their “look”. People feel welcome and supported when their pronouns reflect how they see themselves.  I hope by using my pronouns, my employees will feel more trust and respect from me as well as members. 

Q: What do you wish people knew about the LGBTQIA+ Community/Pride Month?

A: I wish people knew that the community is very diverse in itself. People have misconceptions that Pride is about being gay and proud, but there are some people there that are still struggling. Everyone has their own story and supports Pride differently. Some people are more reserved about it, maybe due to upbringing or could be just personality. 

Even though Pride is a month long, it expands far beyond that. It would be really great if we could see more places expand pass the calendar year and spread the love, acceptance, and visibility always. There are things we are still fighting for. Like how some insurances won’t accept same sex partners or not fully. Just because we have parades doesn’t mean we’re done fighting. Even though there is so much love and support within the community, there is still a lack of awareness and safety we have to deal with every day. 

Q: What are some ways people can be better allies to the community?

A: Be mindful of what you support. Sometimes you don’t know the meanings behind the scenes but do your best to educate yourself. Also, if you hear someone speaking hatefully or harmfully about the community, do the right thing and speak up. 

If people ask you to go to Pride, go with them. Show up and support them. I shared with my mom my coming out story, and now she shows up by coming out of her comfort zone and inviting me to Drag Bingo. It is important to see parents at Pride, showing them how diverse the world really is.

Kristina: 

The couple at Comerica Park.Kristina has been with Credit Union ONE for 6 years exactly as of last week. She works in the loans department where she enjoys helping members make their financial dreams come true. Kristina lives with her partner and their dog, Blue Slurpee. 

Q: What is your story?

A: I always knew I was a part of the community but wasn’t in a lesbian relationship until seven years ago, but I identify as Bi-sexual. I met my partner and knew this was it, I knew I loved this person. Maybe I’m more Pansexual, I love whoever loves me, but it’s an evolving aspect of my life and I’m here to watch it grow and see where it goes. 

My family already kind of knew and was ready for my coming out. I know it’s hard for other people and I’m glad my family accepted it. 

Q: What do you wish people knew about the LGBTQIA+ Community/Pride Month?

A: I wish people knew that Pride month doesn’t end in June, it’s all year long. It’s Pride in being you. I also wish people would want to get to know more about the community and be more empathetic. You don’t have to know everything about LGBTQIA+ Community/Pride, you just need to be open to it. The people apart of this community are pretty accepting and are looking for empathy and community themselves. 

Pride expanded my knowledge of the community and my friendships. I feel like I have more meaningful and deeper experiences. I also feel more carefree. It’s like how I feel at an anime convention. I know everyone is here for the same reasons and I can be myself without people judging. 

Q: Any advice for those who are struggling to find themselves?

A: My advice would be to practice good meditation and find good resources. It can be anyone, any place, anything. Find a good anchor and once you do, a fleet of ships will come. You’ll find your people. 
Some good resources are Affirmations in Ferndale and The Trevor Project. Google is a great resource to find support in your area or ask those in the community. They are usually an open book since they’ve gone through it too.  

Q: What are some ways people can be better allies to the community?

A: Just be supportive, doesn’t matter what type of support. Could be donations to charities, mental support, check-ins, etc. Housing, like Big Brother/Big Sister, is important for people who have nowhere to go because they were kicked out of their homes. Do whatever you’re comfortable with supporting but know that every voice, and every penny counts.