CINC-Blog-Pride (1)
Community Association Living

Everyone deserves to feel at home in their own identities, and workplaces and neighborhoods play a critical role in creating safe and inclusive environments. In an age where the LGBTQ+ community faces real threats to progress, it’s not just up to those creating company policies or DE&I programs. All of us play a role, and even the smallest actions can go a long way toward ensuring everyone feels seen, valued, and supported.


Our CINC team members graciously shared their wisdom and advice, both for fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and those looking to become better allies and neighbors. Join us as we share their stories and perspectives, celebrating the spirit of Pride and the strength of our diverse community.


What advice or encouragement would you give to your younger self?


Karla Pacheco: I’d tell her to not be afraid of being herself, and that all the people who love her do so because of everything she is, and not despite certain parts of her. I think a lot of what I did and didn’t do when I was younger was driven by fear, so I’d tell my younger self to take a deep breath and look at things objectively, because she was stronger than she thought and she was going to be okay all along.


Brad AhChing: I would tell my younger self to have the courage to come out sooner than I did. I had a huge fear of being rejected from everyone I love and I would let my younger self know my fear was unfounded. While there were still a small few that did not accept me for being me, the vast majority of friends, family, and coworkers could not have been more welcoming and loving. At the same time, I know that is not the experience for everyone. I am so grateful for the acceptance and love I have received since coming out.


Shane Birtwistle: I would tell my younger self to not purposely blend in with my surroundings – being “on the radar” doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Allowing your unique attributes to shine bright will open many doors to unique personal and professional experiences.


What are some specific actions HOAs can take to help everyone feel valued and respected in their neighborhoods?


Karla: Using inclusive language in communications, such as ‘spouses’ or ‘partners’. Not assuming gender roles – i.e., women cook and men mow the lawn – or family dynamics, but rather understanding that households are all unique. Understanding that Pride flags are flown as a celebration of love and community, and allowing that expression instead of comparing it to other flags that are flown out of hate towards other communities.


Brad: Be welcoming and kind to everyone. It’s really that simple. It should not matter what the person’s race, gender, or sexual orientation is. We are all human and the more communities welcome everyone with love and kindness instead of anger, fear, or judgment, the happier everyone will be.


Shane: I think creating a sense of inclusivity and respect for everyone in a professionally managed community association is key. When you live in a community association, it’s likely to be co-existing with a slew of people from different backgrounds. I think while sticking to the CC&R’s, not discriminating, or overlooking someone’s personal expression. E.g. Flags:  Pride flags in June, Religious flags throughout the year, flying flags for different countries.


What are some effective ways people can be allies and combat LGBTQ+ discrimination in our daily lives?


Karla: Start small – things like putting your pronouns by your name on social media or in email signatures. Give people the space to tell you their story without setting any expectations regarding their gender, or the gender of any person they might be dating or married to. 


Talk to members of the community! You’ll find that we’re people just like everyone else, and we love just as big. It might surprise you, how “normal” we are.


Brad: Ignore the anger and don’t respond with anger. People who might not be as accepting are often the loudest. It’s easy to get mad, yell back, or post something in anger. Try to ignore that noise and fall into that trap. My Dad always told me growing up, “Kill them with kindness.” It’s the best way to win any argument.


Shane: Whether you experience LGBTQ+ discrimination or another form of discrimination, it feels so good when someone, not like you, unexpectedly steps in to help defuse an uncomfortable situation. The most memorable support I’ve received, both professionally and personally, was when an ally felt compelled to stand by my side in an inopportune time with a client or fellow employee.


How can workplaces ensure their policies and culture are genuinely inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees?


Karla: By making it very clear that there will be zero tolerance towards any sort of discrimination, and being specific in terms of mentioning the LGBTQ+ community in those policies. By showing up not just during Pride month, but every month, and doing things such as pronouns in email signatures, encouraging conversations about allyship, and making it a point to work with inclusive vendors and clients and extend zero-tolerance policies towards them.


Brad: Look no further than CINC! The workplace environment here cannot be more welcoming. It’s not just about covering your logos in rainbows or using #pride in your posts every June. The real difference is following through with what you promote in June to how you treat your LGBTQ+ employees the other eleven months of the year. Every employee deserves to be treated equally and fairly among their peers. CINC is a great example of a company that promotes those values year-round and it really shows in every interaction. It truly is a great place to work.


Shane: I think the growing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs that many companies are adopting are great!


I’ve been seeing a climb in LGBTQ+ representation in safety/anti-harassment training videos, which makes LGBTQ+ employees feel acknowledged and protected.


What books, movies, songs, or other resources would you recommend to celebrate Pride and/or grow one’s understanding of LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences?


Karla: There are a lot of great educational resources, but personally, I would recommend seeking out the type of content you usually consume, except either by a queer author or with queer protagonists. Are you a sci-fi reader? Seek out sci-fi written by a queer author. A fan of romance movies? Look for one with a queer protagonist. I think this is a great starting point for starting to see life through LGBTQ+ individuals’ eyes, and understanding how our experiences may – or may not – differ from yours. 


Brad: Check out Orville Peck! He is an openly gay country artist and my husband and I have been huge fans of his for years. We’ve seen him in concert twice and not only is his music great but he champions a message of inclusivity and equality. And Beyonce, duh.


Shane: Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Mary Lambert). This song was released in 2012, which was around the pivotal time of marriage equality. This song contains powerful, straight forward lyrics which was/is a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I venture to say this song is still being played at every LGBTQ+ wedding!


The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs. This book is geared more towards gay men. Some say it’s the “Gay Man’s Bible” due to the content and how many gay men can relate to the scenarios described in the book.


 LGBTQ+ Crisis Intervention Organization: The Trevor Project



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