Pride Month

June is Pride Month! Here at Victra, our Victra Pride Alliance [VPA] ERG is celebrating all month long and invite you to join us! Here you can find an archive of the entire month’s events so that you don’t miss out.

Pride Month Teams/Zoom Backgrounds

Click each image to be able to download them so you can celebrate with us all month!

Tell Your Story Thursday: Rayneisha Scott

6/30/2022

As a little girl, I was always drawn to people. Gender was never a factor to me. I always wanted to get my hands messy in the dirt with the boys, but also enjoyed dancing and playing dress up with the girls. When I was 10, I had a good friend who I just liked being around so much. I remember asking them if they liked me as much as I liked them. That’s when it hit me. From the age of 10 to 17, I lived in a body that I was not happy in. I would always drop “hypothetical, what-if” questions to my parents during the years. They would give reactions that made me more and more terrified to tell them what I was feeling. I grew depressed because I feared that my parents would just disown me. I would introduce people as my “friend” instead of my partner. I wanted to be normal so badly. I had nowhere to turn.

When I turned 18, I met a partner who made me so happy. They were super close with their family, who accepted me as well! I finally had an outlet to talk. I could talk openly about how I felt. Rather them telling me I wasn’t normal, they made me feel like I was special. They would say things like “the world needs more people like you who don’t pay attention to the physical features of a person. What makes a person is their mind, heart, and soul. Your parents raised a very kindhearted person who chooses to see people for who they are and not what they look like.” Meeting their family was the motivation I needed to cast my rainbow after the storm I had been going through for 7 years.

I had everything in mind that I wanted to say to my parents. When the time came, nothing came out but tears. I cried more than I talked. My dad, who was the main one I was worried about, got up from the table and walked away. My mom, on the other hand, grabbed me and said “I had already seen the passion in your eyes. I will love you no matter what because that’s what love is. Love is a feeling that doesn’t go away because you don’t like something, but grows more when you can accept what you don’t like. Help me understand how you see the world in your eyes and I will try my hardest to see it through with you.” Those were the words I needed. I thought to myself, “my dad has to come around, right?” It took a few years, but he accepted once he saw how happy I truly was!

As the years went on, my sexual orientation wasn’t something that I would immediately share with people, especially my employer. I didn’t want to be viewed as “that pansexual girl”, rather be viewed as “that girl that sees the best in everyone.” Then, I started working at Victra. In the first few weeks of working for Victra, I had saw a banner cross my systems that was encouraging people to join the ERG’s! When I saw the VPA ERG, I immediately knew this was a company for me to be me! With Victra, I feel PROUD of who I am! No hiding, no being looked down on, and no shame! I feel safe, valued, and most importantly, free! Victra has created a platform that I am honored to witness and be a part of! #VNation is the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow!

Pride Quiz

6/29/2022

We’ve been sharing and teaching things all month around Pride Month, so now it’s time to put your knowledge to the test with an educational, pride quiz!

Trailblazer Tuesday: Aaron Fricke

6/28/2022

In 1980, Aaron Fricke, a native Rhode Islander, became fed up after he was told he could not take his boyfriend to Cumberland High School’s Senior Prom. Knowing that something needed to be done, he boldly challenged his high school in district court. He wanted the world to see that love is love and same-sex couples should be able to celebrate it openly rather than only behind closed doors. The judge ultimately ruled not only that Fricke be allowed to attend senior prom with his boyfriend, but also that they would be provided with extra security just in case harassment occurred. The case gained significant national recognition and ended up encouraging schools around the country to change their policy and make it possible for LGBTQ students to have the prom of their dreams as well. Fricke went on in life to continue his activism as well as publish two books, Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay, and Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.

Media Monday: Books to Read

6/27/2022

Pride Month is a time to not only commemorate the Stonewall uprising that helped launch the LGBTQ+ movement in June 1969, but also to celebrate and recognize LGBTQ+ communities. In honor of the month, here are 20 books, including new releases and classics, memoirs and fiction, journalistic accounts and collections of essays. From bestselling memoirs to Pulitzer Prize-winning novels to historical accounts, these Pride Month-themed selections offer insight to the LGBTQ+ experience.

Fun Fact Friday: Society for Human Rights

6/24/2022

There is a storied history of LGBTQ activism in the United States that dates back decades before the Stonewall riots. In 1924, Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago; it was the first group to campaign for gay rights in the United States. The group published a newsletter, “Friendship and Freedom,” the country’s first documented gay civil-rights publication.

Tell Your Story Thursday: Tyler Manttari

6/23/2022

Coming to terms with my identity has always been somewhat of an ordeal for me. I never really fit in with the other kids, and I just couldn’t understand the disconnect. I recall having these wild swings, back and forth, where I would shun anything pink and girlie and cute, because I’d rather go play in the mud, catch bugs, and play video games with my boy friends. The next day, I might wake up and decide I wanted to play housewife that day, drowning myself in pink and toting my baby doll around the house in her matching pink stroller. What I didn’t understand at the time was that I am gender queer!

Things didn’t start making sense until much later. I found myself ashamed when the girls in my class would bully me and make fun of me for some more masculine features; I wasn’t ashamed of my features–I was ashamed that I liked what they were saying about me. Man hands never sounded like an insult. It made me feel good to be seen as a man some days, and a woman on others. I thought there was something wrong with me! Thanks in part to Tik Tok and their fierce drag king community, I felt like I’d found a missing piece of myself. To me, the biggest challenge would be coming out to my fiancé. He never showed any bad feelings towards the LGBT community, but what if coming out to him leads to us breaking up? I would be heartbroken to find myself, and then find myself alone. Fortunately, through my tearful shivering and sniffling, he embraced me like he thought I was the biggest goofball in the world, and told me he’d love as I am, regardless of how I wanted to present. I haven’t been out for very long, but almost everybody in my life has been supportive, and the worst I’ve really felt was warm indifference. I know I am very fortunate for the good people who love me. If you take anything from my story, please take this; Nothing about how you react to your loved ones can change who they are. Please, love them as they are so you can witness the beautiful way they flourish with your support.

To me, to be part of the VPA is about being a part of a diverse, and positive community. I thought it was outstanding that my previous employer would allow a tiny pride pin on the work uniform–The fact that we have an entire community within Victra, devoted to the LGBTQ+ community? I never thought I’d get to see the day! It’s incredible to see the changes for good that the VPA has already accomplished, on top of everything else, I’ve learned so much! Through just the blog posts alone, I’ve grown my understanding of what it means to have pride. I’m very fortunate to have not only friends and family who supports me, but my career as well!

Support LGBTQIA+ Businesses

6/22/2022

Uplifting LGBTQIA+ brands is something that is important outside of just Pride month or LGBT+ History Month. Here is a list of some of the businesses you can help support year-round!

Trailblazer Tuesday: Laverne Cox

6/21/2022

Laverne Cox is a Black transgender actress, dancer, and activist. Her breakout role was as Sophia Burset in the acclaimed Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, landing her an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series”–the very first transgender person to do so in history. Laverne Cox continued to break down barriers, appearing in several other TV shows, hitting national news, and then being featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2015. Laverne Cox remains a popular and venerated media and cultural icon, continually bringing trans struggles to the forefront of U.S. and global mainstream news. She is a leading face of the trans rights movement and inspires trans youth all over the world.

“My life changed when I realized I deserve to be seen, to dream, to be fully included, always striving to bring my full humanity.” -Laverne Cox

Media Monday: VPA Spotify Playlist

6/20/2022

This playlist was curated by the members of VPA to celebrate Pride!

Fun Fact Friday: History of Drag

6/17/2022

Since the 19th century, the term “drag” has been embraced by those who play with and redefine the concept of gender. Trixie Mattel — who has a thing or two to teach us about the art of drag — breaks down how the word became popular in queer communities and mainstream culture. Check out the full video and script below to learn from the queen, herself.

Tell Your Story Thursday: Alicia Acosta

6/16/2022

Hey! My name is Alicia, I grew up in Grayson, Kentucky and I’m a proud lesbian. This is a little bit about me. The earliest memory I have of thinking I was a little bit different than my peers was in 2nd grade. I made a friend named Anna and up until that point my life, she was the most rad person I had ever met. We would play at recess together, read books with each other during reading time and sit at lunch with one another every day. I remember being so excited to go to school every day just to see her. As kids do, my classmates would gush over their mutual boyfriends/girlfriends (so cute right lol). I remember thinking “Wow, I wish Anna was my girlfriend.” It’s so silly but I specifically remember wishing that I could hold her hand. That little innocent thought just made me so incredibly happy. Now, I didn’t know what “gay” was. But I “knew” that a girl showing affection to another girl was wrong and “bad”. So I never acted on it. Anna moved away before the school year was over, and that was a big bummer.

Fast forward to 2010, I was about 23 years old. The weight of this secret I’d been carrying was beginning to be too much to bear. I had to tell somebody and it had to be my mom. Grayson, KY is a small town of about 3,000 people and my mother has lived there almost her whole life. The town is very southern. Very anti-lgbt. Very “traditional.” I knew that certain ideals people grow up with may never be something that you could possibly change, so telling her was a scary and crippling thought.

When I finally mustered up the courage to tell her, I couldn’t help but just cry over the fear that I may be losing her in my life because that actually happens to some people. After I told her she asked so gently “why are you crying?” And I responded “I’m scared you won’t love me anymore.” She put her hand on mine and said “Alicia, you are my baby and I will always love you.” As I’m writing this I can’t help but cry, as I always do when I tell this story. It was at that moment I felt this massive weight lifted off my entire body. The feeling of acceptance by the ones you hold closely to your heart is an indescribable feeling. Acceptance is crucial in this community especially if you want some quality of life. People don’t understand what it’s like to feel scared of being unable to love who you love without fear. It’s not understood that there are places where we are scared to even simply hold hands with our partners without discrimination, hate, or ugly looks.

There are SO many companies and places of employment that are not LGBT friendly. One of which a dear friend of mine works for and is absolutely terrified of being outed because of it. When I discovered the VPA at Victra, my respect and love grew for this company tenfold. Acceptance and acknowledgement in the workplace is monumental. If I’m going to be my authentic self in my personal life, I want to share that freedom in my professional life. The VPA opens a space for me to do that safely. That means everything. Thank you for making this a safe space for us. Thank you for hearing us. And thank you for loving us.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites

6/15/2022

This website documents historic sites connected to New York City’s LGBT community, giving life to its often untold history and influence on America. Explore sites by map, view curated themes, or browse an index of nearly 350 sites.

Trailblazer Tuesday: Edie Windsor

6/14/2022

Edith S. (Edie) Windsor was an LGBTQ+ rights activist whose 2013 landmark victory over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) set the stage for marriage equality for all. When Edie Windsor’s wife died after 44 years together, Edie was required to pay taxes that a straight widow would not have to pay. Her lawsuit against the federal government went all the way to the Supreme Court. The case that bears her name overturned the federal government’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages. Edie Windsor and her wife Thea Spyer were a Jewish lesbian couple whose life in late-twentieth-century New York reflected the increasing visibility of LGBT people in the decades after the Stonewall uprising. Before Edie became a full-time activist, she was a computer programmer at IBM in the early days of a male-dominated field.

Media Monday: Podcast Episodes

6/13/2022

Making Gay History is a nonprofit organization that addresses the absence of substantive, in-depth LGBTQ-inclusive American history from the public discourse by providing a window into that history through the stories of the people who helped a despised minority take its rightful place in society as full and equal citizens. The Making Gay History podcast mines Eric Marcus’s decades-old audio archive of rare interviews — conducted for his award-winning oral history of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement — to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.

Fun Fact Friday: Drag Balls

6/10/2022

In the early 1970s, Black and Latinx gay, trans and queer people developed a thriving subculture in house balls, where they could express themselves freely and find acceptance within a marginalized community. It was here where the world of drag pageantry, which often favored white contestants, evolved into competitions that spanned a variety of categories, including “vogue” battles. All these events can trace their origins as far back as the late 1800s.

Tell Your Story Thursday: Colton Brown

6/9/2022

I have been through a lot in life, but one thing I never really questioned was my sexual orientation. I had always known and never really questioned it, but I know for others it’s a much more difficult journey. For me, the biggest challenge was understanding my gender identity. I remember when I saw my first drag queen, I was eager to try myself. I tried it and enjoyed it very much, but also got very confused. Why did I enjoy being a woman? I struggled for years with who I was in gender. Mainly because at the time you were forced to choose, and there was no blurring of the lines. As time passed, more understanding became prevalent within society. This has shown throughout history, and I hope it will continue to be the path for humanity. Thanks to the growth in understanding, I now know I identify as non-binary.

For me, having something like VPA where I work is astounding. I grew up in an era where ‘gay’ was considered an insult, so to be working for a company that promotes community and understanding makes me feel proud to be a part of that culture.

Flags of the LGBTQIA+ Community

6/8/2022

Flags have always been an integral part of the LGBTIQ community. They are a visible representation of identity that people use in celebration, in protest, or even as a casual adornment. There have been many LGBTQIA+ flags over the years. Some have evolved, like the original Pride flag created in 1978 by Gilbert Baker and flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade, while others are constantly being conceptualized and created.

Trailblazer Tuesday: Frank Kameny

6/7/2022

Frank Kameny served in the U.S. Army during World War II and completed a doctorate in astronomy at Harvard before obtaining a government job in 1957. But shortly after being hired as an astronomer for the Army Map Service, Kameny was confronted over reports that he was a homosexual. Kameny was soon fired, and in January 1958, at the age of 32, he was barred from ever working for the federal government again. However, unlike most of the thousands of gay and lesbian federal employees who were terminated during the so-called Lavender Scare, Kameny decided to fight back.

Kameny sued the government in a 1960 lawsuit that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. He didn’t win the case (regarded as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation to be brought to the Supreme Court) but that was just the beginning for Kameny. In 1961, he co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, one of the earliest LGBTQ advocacy groups. Then in 1965, Kameny was among a small group that held what is thought to be the first gay demonstration outside the White House. Not long after, he decided to take on the American Psychiatric Association and its classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. After a half-century of activism, Kameny was recognized at the highest levels for his contributions to LGBTQ equality. He even received a formal apology from the U.S. government in 2009 for his 1958 dismissal. Frank Kameny died at the age of 86 on October 11, 2011. His death coincided with National Coming Out day, which has been celebrated annually since 1987.

“The person who really needs the psychotherapy is not the homosexual youngster who gets dragged to the psychiatrist’s office by his mother, but the mother, to relieve her anxieties about his homosexuality.” -Frank Kameny

Media Monday: Movies to Stream

6/6/2022

Pride is a time in which everyone under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella is encouraged to come out and wave their flag in spectacular parades. But for every wild night out, we might need a cozy, movie night in. Many streaming services highlight their pride collections in June, but this list will give you a selection of 40 LGBTQIA+ movies to watch this Pride and beyond!

Fun Fact Friday: The Mother of Pride

6/3/2022

Brenda Howard, a bisexual rights activist, is known as the “Mother of Pride.” She coordinated the first Liberation March, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, on June 28, 1970—one year after the Stonewall Inn riot.

Tell Your Story Thursday: Ashleigh Nary

6/2/2022

Hey V Nation! I’m Ashleigh, currently been with the company for 10 years in August and am 34 years old! I started my journey of coming out to the world when I was 16, in the early 2000s. At that time, I was one of the first girls at my high school to be openly gay. Which was a little nerve racking at that time given it was not as widely accepted or understood. However, in doing so it gave other friends the courage to do the same.

Although it was a little difficult for my parents to understand at the time, or if it was just a phase in general, they have been very accepting of me and my lifestyle. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the journey and support that I have throughout the years, and the courage to be myself my entire adult life.

It hasn’t always been the easiest road to travel. I’ve battled with religion and my lifestyle, being considered “different”, or told it was a choice. I’ve had parents who didn’t like me, people who look at me multiple times in public restrooms which make it very uncomfortable, so thank goodness for family / gender neutral bathrooms but overall, I’ve never wavered from just being me, authentically.

I would encourage anyone who is struggling to be who you are, or knows someone struggling with who they are, talk about your feelings because they are valid, the amount of relief you feel by doing so is indescribable. If you don’t have that person, reach out to me anytime!

Thank you Victra for making sure that everyone feels welcome, and comfortable being their true self, and huge shoutout to the VPA and all they do daily. Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, and I’m very grateful to be a part of this group and organization to have the opportunity to share my story! ✌🏻s up!

Pride Month blog post

6/1/2022


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