The dictionary defines pride as follows:
A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
For me, pride is a bit more.
Pride is waking up knowing that at any moment during your day, you could face some sort of discrimination or attack, whether it's verbal, physical, online or in the media, just because you are different than the majority.
Pride is holding your head up high and refusing to hide and lie about who you are in the face of that discrimination or attack.
Pride is loving who you want to love, not who the world tells you to.
Pride is celebrating the accomplishments of the people who came before you, who, like you, woke up with the same feeling of "Will I be a target today?" but persevered and got elected to city councils, flew in space, cracked the Enigma code, became popular jazz musicians and even threw the first brick nearly 50 years ago to kick-start this whole movement in the first place.
Pride is continuing the work of your predecessors to fight for the same rights and protections that the majority enjoys and is guaranteed, at home and around the world. It is remembering those who lost the fight.
Pride is recognizing there is still work to be done, not just in the world as a whole, but in our community. Accepting that there is still sexism, racism and other discrimination still happening within our own community, and having difficult conversations with each other to open our own eyes to our own prejudices, even if we don't realize we have them.
Pride is a product of pain and passion, remembrance and celebration, acceptance and affirmation, loss and triumph.
Pride is a simple little word that means so much more than any dictionary can define.
Our founder, Bill Darden, knew the importance of diversity and treating everyone equally. He welcomed all guests to his tables. Eighty years later, in my opinion, Darden Restaurants is THE leader in providing a fully inclusive, non-discriminatory work environment where everyone is treated with dignity, respect, honesty and integrity. But most importantly, EQUALITY. That is why, to this day, we are still the only full-service restaurant company to have a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
Twenty-seven states have not specifically extended workplace protections to the LGBTQ community. If you work for Darden in one of those states, you’ll have one less thing to worry about because Darden has given those employees peace of mind. I know, because when I started with the company in 2007, I was living in one of those states. It was not yet legal for me to get married, but Darden still offered me full spousal benefits, job security and a chance to better myself and move up within the company. Eleven years later, I am still proud to work for this company.
I am a member of the LGBTQ community, I am a Darden manager at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Mansfield, MA, and I have pride!