Hands holding up Pride flags

Blue Cross, Employees Celebrating Pride in New Ways  

Pride flag at Blue Cross towerLike so many other large-scale social gatherings, Pride events across Michigan have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically celebrated in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, Pride festivals and parades serve to bring the LGBTQ+ community and allies together in colorful, joyful celebration. The events also function as a continued push for acceptance and equal rights.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is recognizing Pride month by raising flags at our Detroit tower June 5-14 and lighting the Renaissance Center June 10-17. Lansing-based Accident Fund, a Blue Cross subsidiary, will display lights on their building in support of Pride June 5-12.

Our Equally Blue employee resource network has virtual educational opportunities and events planned throughout the month to help employees across the organization learn more about issues facing their LGBTQ colleagues and to celebrate their contributions.

We asked members of Equally Blue how they plan to celebrate this year and what Pride means to them.

Leslie Selden, manager, Business Solutions, got an early start celebrating Pride with her partner, Sandy Powers and members of Powers’ family. “We have game night via Zoom every Friday … with different themes. The theme last Friday was to celebrate Pride,” Selden said.

Pictured left to right: Valerie Powers, John Powers, Selden and Sandy Powers celebrate Pride with a festive virtual game night.

Pictured left to right: Valerie Powers, John Powers, Selden and Sandy Powers celebrate Pride with a festive virtual game night.

Bryan Beaver’s dog, Charlie, dressed up and ready for Ferndale Pride in 2018.

Bryan Beaver’s dog, Charlie, dressed up and ready for Ferndale Pride in 2018.

“I plan to check out the Motor City virtual Pride,” said Kim Zaugg, senior business systems analyst. “I am also excited that Blue Cross plans to fly the rainbow flag at our headquarters.” Many virtual celebrations are being organized, including events put on by Ferndale Pride, Ypsi Pride and Motor City Pride, which Blue Cross is sponsoring. 

Bryan Beaver, senior consultant, Business Efficiency & Continuous Improvement, plans a more intimate celebration with friends.

“My wife and I are planning to celebrate Pride by having Skype cocktails and toasting with our LGBTQ family, friends and fellow allies,” he said.

Jessica Vilani’s daughter, Sydney, and puppy, Bonnie Bee, ready for Pride. Vilani says “Bonnie is wearing her Pride bandana, which she will sport all of June, and Syd is wearing her ‘Love makes the world go round’ t-shirt, which she would have worn for the parade. We can’t wait for the next event to show our support!”

Jessica Vilani’s daughter, Sydney, and puppy, Bonnie Bee, ready for Pride.

“Our entire family came as an ally to the (Motor City) parade last year and were planning to do so again until everything shut down,” said Jessica Vilani, manager, Middle & Small Group Performance. “Pride is important to us because we believe that love is the most powerful emotion out there. Everyone deserves love and to love whom they want, without fear or prejudice. As an ally, we will stand by our LGBTQ friends to ensure that their rights are protected.”

Blue Cross celebrates LGBTQ+ employees in June and throughout the year. Earlier this year, the company joined other major employers in the state to support Fair and Equal Michigan’s campaign to ban LGBTQ+ discrimination in Michigan.

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Main image photo credit: Pornpak Khunatorn; all other images courtesy photos

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