June is here and as the Founder, President and CEO of an LGBTQI+ company, Pyxis Partners, I am proud to join thousands of other LGBTQI+ owned companies to celebrate and reflect on Pride Month and what it means to our community.
June is a month to celebrate our community and we have much to be grateful for – but we also have so much further to go. I remember being in a Pride March on 5th Avenue in the mid-1980s. I was marching under the banner of the Manhattan Plaza AIDS Project. Manhattan Plaza were two high-rises that opened in 1977 as subsidized housing for those in the performing arts. The two 46-story towers in Hell's Kitchen were filled with dancers, singers, actors, writers, musicians, choreographers, and anyone who was trying to make a living in the performing arts. I owned a restaurant in the 10th Avenue tower – my first business. Needless to say Manhattan Plaza was devastated by the AIDS pandemic.
That year when I marched, I did so pushing the wheelchair of a 27-year-old young man. His name was Nick and he was not able to walk on his own because of his advanced AIDS, which he died from a few short months later. One million people marched that year in the Pride March. And while it was a desperate and terrifying time, I realized then that we were only going to get out of the nightmare we were living in by engaging and organizing our community. Ten Pride Months later, in 1995, the protease inhibitor was approved by the FDA, and I, as someone who was living with AIDS, was given a second lease on life. Almost 40 Pride Months have now passed and each year we have made gains in our civil and human rights. I survived AIDS and live with deep memories of my community members who did not.
Our movement to liberation includes the growth of LGBTQI+ Community Centers all over the country. It includes the legal marriages that three of my Pyxis Partners colleagues get to celebrate. But the LGBTQI+ community is still stigmatized, marginalized and targeted by many people in our nation. It breaks my heart that the lives of LGBTQI+ Americans are targets. Our Transgender community, in particular, is at the center of targeted attacks and harmful legislation. I hope we can all do more to defend our Transgender and Gender Expansive siblings. At Pyxis Partners, one of the things we are doing to stand with the Transgender and Non-Binary community is contributing to Whitman-Walker Health's Gender Affirming Navigation Program.
Pyxis Partners staff is an incredibly diverse group of people, all who face inequities in this country. And while June may be called "Pride Month" it is to me symbolic of all disenfranchised Americans and the hope that things will get better.
I wish everyone a healthy, safe and joyful Pride Month.
President and CEO, Pyxis Partners