New group forms and highlights things you can do, right now, to support LGBTQ members of the credit union community.
Two years ago, I posted a Facebook photo of my pride Apple watch face with my rainbow pride band. I captioned it, “My watch has a little too much pride. Or is there such a thing?” Lots of friends responded with positive affirmations and messages like “You can never have too much pride.”
But one friend, not in the LGBTQ community, quoted St. Augustine instead. “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that changes men into angels.” I was stunned. I thought, “Is he trying to be funny? Does he not understand the deeper meaning when we say Pride?”
I began reflecting on the word “pride” and what it means to our community. Over the last 30 years, I have marched in dozens of parades and attended many events. I can remember the newness and excitement of stepping outside of my hidden self to reveal my authentic self to friends and community members. Over those years, did the meaning and celebration of pride slip away or diminish somehow?
What Is Pride?
Pride is about community and the bond with other LGBTQ persons.
Pride is about authenticity, being who we really are.
Pride is for self-esteem and the self-esteem of our brothers and sisters.
Pride is a statement that we belong.
Pride is a display of support and companionship for allies.
Pride is a lot of things.
And speaking of pride … where is it in the credit union industry?
In my 22 years of credit unions, I have not seen many CEOs or executives who were publicly out (or felt okay to be out). I have also not seen the industry take a unified stand to support the LGBTQ credit union professional. We talk about LGBTQ persons as members and how to serve them. We say that we support employees, but is there still a stigma about being out and accepted as professionals in our credit unions?
After years of observation and questioning why the industry still lacks formal recognition for this segment of our professional, we finally did something about it.
Welcome to CU Pride!
CU Pride was founded during a special Mitchell Stankovic Underground gathering at the Governmental Affairs Conference in February 2020. The four founding members include myself, Linda Bodie, CEO at $53 million Element Federal Credit Union, Charleston, West Virginia, joined with Dan Marquez, conversion strategist at Corelation, San Diego; Brandi Stankovic, chief strategy officer with CUES Supplier member CU Solutions Group, Livonia, Michigan; and Zach Christensen, communications director at Mitchell Stankovic & Associates, Boulder City, Nevada.
CU Pride exists to create a network and promote visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals in the credit union industry; provide a safe but brave place for communion and discussion; create a forum for allies and social change agents; and promote inclusivity and consciousness through programs, education and networking.
CU Pride hosted a first-ever Virtual CU Pride event on June 19 in observance of Pride Month. It was absolutely fabulous! The event was a celebration of credit unions, including a nod to Juneteenth, guest speakers and representation from our diverse community.
In October we celebrate LGBTQ history month. It was founded in 1994 by a Missouri high school history teacher. It is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and includes the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. Here are some key dates to remember:
- 10/8 International Lesbian Day
- 10/11 National Coming Out Day
- 10/21 International Pronoun Day
For upcoming events and special dates, visit the What’s New section of the CU Pride website.
National Coming Out Day is observed on Oct. 11 each year to encourage LGBTQ people to come out of the closet. It was first celebrated in 1988 to promote visibility. Your family, friends and co-workers will not know any LGBTQ persons unless they are visible and out, and homophobia and discrimination are more likely to diminish if you know and love people in the community.
With CU Pride, we envision bringing more recognition to LGBTQ credit union professionals in our industry through our programs and outreach.
In the meantime, what are some things that you and we can do, right now, to show our pride at our credit unions and in the credit union industry?
- Be out at work. Stand up as an ally. Visibility creates dialogue and promotes acceptance.
- Get LGBTQ people and allies on your board and on your teams. They not only need a place at the table but also a voice.
- Bring your spouse or partner—like everyone else—to credit union functions.
- Wear the clothes that you feel comfortable wearing, no matter gender norms.
Start talking and doing, and don’t ever stop.
Linda Bodie is CEO/innovator of $53 million Element Federal Credit Union, Charleston, West Virginia.