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Why should business owners & leaders engage in PRIDE month?

Since 1969, the US has dedicated the month of June as PRIDE month to commemorate the Stonewall protests in New York City and celebrate LGBTQ+ people. The first PRIDE marches took place one year after Stonewall to continue to raise awareness about how LGBTQ people were discriminated against through legislation and in social and corporate cultures.

In 2023, more people are educated about how to welcome, accept, and support LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. However, statistics show that LGBTQ+ people are nowhere near being treated equally to our heterosexual counterparts. Take a look.

LGBTQ+ Facts

  • 11 countries impose the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people.

  • 64 countries criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.

  • 23 million+ Americans are LGBTQ+.

  • 530+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in the US so far in 2023.

  • 100% of transgender girls in K-12 are banned from playing girls sports in Indiana.

  • SB480 passed in Indiana banning gender affirming medical care for transgender youth.

  • 22.7% Hoosier high school LGBTQ+ students attempted suicide in 2021.

We who identify as LGBTQ+ are executed, persecuted, and discriminated against daily from bigots around the world, in our offices, in churches, and in our classrooms. The daily weight of the oppression, mistreatment, and rejection can be deeply demoralizing.

Over time, the marches transformed from protesting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and inequity, to a celebration of the LGBTQ+ culture. For one day out of the year, the PRIDE parade is an expression of joy as a form of protest.

Today’s PRIDE parades are filled with diverse people, organizations, and companies showing up in person to support their LGBTQ+ family, friends and co-workers. The energy is positive, the floats are festooned with elaborate decorations, walking contingencies coordinate their rainbow T-shirts and carry banners, and drag queens lip sync to some of the greatest singalong songs causing the curbside audience to “get up off of their seat and dance, dance, dance!”

The Startup Ladies have been marching in the Indianapolis PRIDE parade for years. Our board members pay for the contingency fees as an expression of love and support for our LGBTQ+ members. The parade allows us to create a safe space for all of our members and their friends and families to walk with us in honor and celebration of LGBTQ+ founders, investors, executives in our community. Read what our Startup Ladies members had to say about it.

Why did you come out to walk in the PRIDE parade?

Jantina Anderson (L)

Startup Ladies Board Member &

Associate Director, HR, Carrier Corporation

2023 PhD Urban Education, Educational Leadership & Policy at IUPUI

As a firm believer in equality, equity, respect, and inclusion, and a passionate advocate for personal aesthetic freedoms, marching in the PRIDE parade and engaging with the attendees was a gesture of love and respect. Further, I marched to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community because liberation will only be achieved with collective action across race, class, gender, religion, etc. The energy of the parade and visible alignment of values and ideals allowed me to leave with a greater sense of hope for the future of Indianapolis and Indiana. I will continue to do my part as we journey to secure rights and increase safety, access, and respect for the LGBTQ+ community.

Rebecca Bormann (R)

Startup Ladies Ambassador &

Owner, RB Consulting

"As a business owner, participating in the Indy PRIDE parade is more than just a celebration of diversity and inclusivity. It's a statement that at RB Consulting, we believe everyone belongs, and our community is open to all. We stand together with our LGBTQ+ community, as allies and advocates for equality for all humans."

LaToya Johnson (M)

Startup Ladies Member &

CEO & Founder, Victor App

"As someone who grew up in an unloving environment, I have empathy for the LGBTQIA+ community. Every human just wants to be respected and cared for. Walking in the PRIDE Parade was the least I could do to show that I respect and care for the community. I am a proud ally and I will do what I can to show support, to show consideration, to show love."

Jason M. Kelly, PhD

Startup Ladies Ambassador,

Director, IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute

Chair of History Department, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, Professor of History, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

"Some of the most important rights we have as citizens derive from the First Amendment: the rights of free speech, association, and assembly. These rights--what we broadly refer to as freedom of expression--are fundamental, because they help us oppose the forces of inequity and political persecution. One manifestation of these rights are annual PRIDE Parades, which both celebrate diversity and take a stand against hatred. In a historic moment when the freedom of expression is under attack--and when extremists are targeting groups such as the LGBTQ+ community--it's essential that we show up, speak out, and support each other. That's why I march in the PRIDE Parade."

Sara Norris (L)

Startup Ladies Board Member

"I firmly believe that our rights as citizens should be completely independent of how we identify ourselves and whom we love. Because I have LGBTQ+ friends and family members, I was honored to be able to support them by marching in the PRIDE parade."

Mandy Rose (M)

Startup Ladies Corporate Member

Managing Director, EY

"I bring my girls to walk in the PRIDE parade so that they will grow up believing that all humans deserve to be respected and loved!"

Jean Ross (L)

Startup Ladies Member

Co-founder, PrimaryRecord

"As a female founder in Indiana, showing up to PRIDE was a visible way to show my support and promise for inclusivity at my company. As a nurse advocate, I have seen the power in showing up and the impact it can have on others. I appreciate greatly having The Startup Ladies community to stand with and support our Indy LGBTQI friends, family, and co-workers!"

Walking in a PRIDE parade is a simple and effective form of activism. By showing up and walking alongside of our LGBTQ+ peers, we accomplish the following:
  • Build relationships with people who are different from us.

  • Take photographs and share the experience with others in social media so that friends see us being supportive to LGBTQ+ people.

  • Influence friends and colleagues to get involved with the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Some take their positive experience back to their workplace and form employee resource groups that support LGBTQ+ people.

  • Inspire others to attend PRIDE related events to experience the joy we experience together.

  • Encourage attendees to do business with the companies who showed up to support LGBTQ+ folks.

  • The experience and relationships built motivate people to take small actions that support LGBTQ+ people like: voting or contacting their legislators to let them know that LGBTQ+ deserve the same equal rights as everyone else.

Kristen Cooper

CEO & Founder, The Startup Ladies

"The Startup Ladies encourage everyone from startup founders to established enterprise leaders to show their PRIDE year round and ensure that your workplace is psychologically safe for LGBTQ+ employees. Ditch assimilation culture. Instead, work as a team while recognizing the obstacles that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees experience daily while respecting and celebrating each person’s needs and talents. " Happy PRIDE!


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