ICYMI & UPCOMING EVENTS
PRIDE Month 2023
Harvey Milk, a pioneering figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and one of the first openly gay elected officials . Serving as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he tirelessly fought for fair housing legislation that aimed to ensure equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. Milk often said "Hope is not silent", he recognized the profound impact of housing discrimination on marginalized communities and actively worked towards dismantling these barriers. One of Milk's notable achievements was his support for San Francisco's fair housing ordinance, which prohibited discrimination in housing based on various protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity. This crucial legislation aimed to eradicate systemic biases and prejudices that had long hindered marginalized individuals from securing safe and affordable housing. Milk's advocacy extended beyond legislative efforts. He actively collaborated with community organizations and grassroots movements to address housing challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Recognizing the unique struggles they encountered, including homelessness, housing instability, and discriminatory practices, Milk championed the development of shelters and transitional housing programs specifically tailored to serve this community. These initiatives not only provided physical shelter but also offered critical emotional support and resources to help individuals regain stability and independence.
LGBTQIA+ individuals often face significant barriers in the workplace that hinder their professional growth and well-being. These barriers can include discriminatory hiring practices, workplace harassment, and unequal treatment and opportunities based on sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQIA+ individuals may also encounter challenges in accessing appropriate healthcare benefits and facing a lack of supportive policies and inclusive workplace environments, which can further contribute to their marginalization.
Henry Gerber was a pioneering LGBTQIA+ activist and advocate who played a significant role in the early LGBTQIA+ rights movement in the United States. Born on June 29, 1892, in Bavaria, Germany, Gerber immigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and was honorably discharged in 1919. In 1924, Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights (SHR), considered the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. The SHR aimed to provide a safe space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, promote equality, and fight against discrimination. Gerber published the organization's newsletter, "Friendship and Freedom," which advocated for LGBTQIA+ rights and highlighted the contributions of queer individuals throughout history. However, due to societal attitudes and the prevailing anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment at the time, the SHR faced significant backlash. In 1925, Gerber was arrested, and the organization was shut down for violating Illinois' laws against homosexuality. Despite this setback, Gerber's pioneering efforts laid the groundwork for future LGBTQIA+ activism and organizations. Henry Gerber's contributions to the LGBTQIA+ rights movement have gained recognition over time. In 2001, he was posthumously honored by the Chicago City Council with a resolution recognizing his role as a trailblazer. In 2015, Gerber's Chicago home, where the SHR was founded, was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Ongoing Struggle for Equal Rights
Just in 2023, there have been 491 pieces of legislation specifically targeting the queer community, reaching a troubling new high compared to previous years. Such legislation often includes restrictions around education, same-sex marriage, adoption rights, and healthcare access, as well as the denial of legal recognition and protection for transgender and non-binary individuals. The alarming rise in anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation underscores the ongoing struggle for acceptance, equality, and human rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.
Learn by Letter
Bridge Employees Celebrate Spirit Day!
Spirit Day aims to create awareness for the bullying and harassment that the LGBTQ+ community faces. Every Spirit day since October 20, 2010, observers wear the color purple to show support for the LGBTQ+ youth and honor the community’s suicide victims. GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization promotes awareness of Spirit Day and provides Spirit Day resource kits for ally-youths to stand up against bullying in their own schools.
Bridge Senior Managing Director, Lourdes Fisher, was a speaker at the 2023 National LGBTQ+ Real Estate Symposium.
Audre Lorde, an influential African American lesbian poet, essayist, and civil rights activist, made significant contributions to the fight against housing discrimination, leaving a lasting impact on the intersection of social justice and housing equity. Throughout her life, Lorde recognized the intricate web of oppressions faced by marginalized communities, including LGBTQIA+ individuals, in their struggle for accessible and inclusive housing. She fearlessly used her platform to shed light on the systemic barriers perpetuating housing inequality, emphasizing the urgent need for transformative change saying “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Lorde's profound insights and thought-provoking writings challenged societal norms and inspired critical conversations about the intersecting dimensions of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the context of housing. Lorde's impassioned speeches resonated deeply, empowering activists and advocates to rise up and demand equitable housing policies and practices that recognize the inherent dignity and rights of all individuals. She advocated for the creation of inclusive and affirming spaces that not only provided physical shelter but also embraced the lived experiences of diverse communities. Lorde's legacy serves as a rallying cry for ongoing efforts to dismantle systemic barriers, challenge discriminatory practices, and forge pathways towards a future where everyone has access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, or social status.
Mel Heifetz, a Philadelphia-based real estate developer, philanthropist, and LGBTQIA+ activist, has left an indelible mark on the business world and the LGBTQIA+ community. Growing up in South Philadelphia with working-class Jewish parents, Heifetz faced challenges that instilled in him a strong work ethic and determination. His journey as an LGBTQIA+ activist began in the 1950s when his first business, the Humoresque coffeehouse, faced police raids for welcoming interracial and gay couples. This experience ignited his passion for activism and inspired him to fight against injustice and discrimination. Throughout his career, Heifetz established himself as a prominent businessman, developing real estate and owning gay bars and hotels, including Philadelphia's first gay hotel, the Alexander Inn. His contributions extended beyond his business endeavors, as he donated substantially to various LGBTQIA+ organizations. Mel Heifetz's activism, philanthropy, and dedication to social justice have earned him numerous awards and accolades, recognizing his profound impact on the lives of many LGBTQIA+ individuals and his commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
A Lack of Psychological Safety
The workplace often lacks psychological safety for LGBTQIA+ individuals, with studies revealing that 83% feel the need to cover or hide some aspect of their identity, compared to 61% of non-LGBTQIA+ respondents. Building psychological safety in the workplace is essential to fostering inclusivity and productivity, recognizing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ employees, and promoting cohesion among all staff.