Celebrating Pride Month in New England

By Ranelle Porter,

By Lorelei Erisis | June 20, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

This year’s Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place on June 28, 1969. The initial commemorations of which evolved into the Pride events that are now held around the world annually. While Stonewall wasn’t the first time the LGBTQ+ community rose up and took to the streets to resist repressive and abusive treatment, the community members who fought back at Stonewall that night lit the spark that exploded into the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Throughout the month of June, we observe Pride Month with marches, festivities, and events. We remember these protests and celebrate our unique identities and common bonds as community members. By marching, celebrating, and living our lives Out and Proud, we pay homage to those who first fought back at Stonewall, including trans women Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson as well as lesbian Stormé DeLarverie.

We remember the hardworking organizers who picked up the fight and kept up the momentum, laying down the groundwork for the rainbow-filled celebrations we know today. People like Brenda Howard, a bisexual rights activist who is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating that first New York Pride March, are honored.

As part of its long-time commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Eastern Bank will be marching alongside us at multiple Pride celebrations throughout the month—which started on June 2nd at Quincy Pride and then Boston Pride on June 8th. You’ll also find a proud Eastern Bank presence at North Shore Pride and Cape Cod Pride on June 22nd as well as the Nashua Pride on June 29th.

Though Pride has evolved over the years from a protest march to a celebratory parade, it’s kept that revolutionary spirit at its core. As LGBTQ+ community members, we have made great strides in terms of acceptance and basic protections, but the fight continues as Pride remains vital in that struggle.

Regardless of the Pride celebrations, there are still queer and trans kids across the country who feel alone and outnumbered. For many of them, Pride is their first opportunity to find belonging and community, and to see others like themselves living proud, authentic lives.

Though it’s first and foremost a celebration of LGBTQ+ folks, Pride welcomes everyone. Whether you’re trans, bi, gay, lesbian, queer, or a cisgender and straight ally, you’re invited. Dance, shout, sing, march, celebrate, show the world your support and love for LGBTQ+ lives.

Throughout Pride Month, take the opportunity to wear all of your best rainbow gear! Whether it’s a simple rainbow pin, an elaborate rainbow dress, a trans or bi flag, or a vintage “Silence = Death” button, showing your Pride is easy and it helps more than you might realize. This simple act can make others feel less alone, inspire a trans coworker to come out, start a conversation, and perhaps even change the mind of someone who isn’t so accepting of LGBTQ+ folks. Whether it’s your first time or your 49th, this is the year to get out!

Celebrate Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising by finding a 2019 Pride event near you.

Miss Trans Massachusetts and Her Commitment to Spreading Equality for the LGBTQ Community

By Ranelle Porter,

By Lorelei Erisis | August 3, 2018 | 2 Minute Read

As a queer, trans woman, and Massachusetts native, I’ve personally been involved in activism for trans rights and organizing within the LGBTQ community. And wherever I’ve been, Eastern Bank has been there as well.

They’ve stood solid as a committed partner and supporter of the LGBTQ community. In addition to marching in both the Boston Pride Parade and the North Shore Pride Parade, Eastern Bank’s LGBTQ efforts are visible and run deep into the community.

When Eastern reached out to me to write for them, I had no hesitation accepting. I felt like Eastern Bank was already a trusted friend—an ally, in the best sense of the word.

When we were fighting to win basic civil rights protection for transgender people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Eastern Bank was there. They sat with us through gruelingly long days of testimony at both statehouses, on multiple occasions. Representatives of Eastern Bank personally testified in support of transgender rights.

Nancy Stager, Eastern Bank’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources and Charitable Giving, said that Eastern Bank has been so committed to the LGBTQ community and the struggle for transgender rights, “Because it’s the smart and right thing to do. As a company, we need to access the broadest talent pool and we can’t afford to have populations of talented individuals feel less than,” she said. “In my experience over the last 10 years of supporting trans rights, I’ve seen and heard stories that are just heartbreaking. And we’re personally and organizationally committed to doing whatever we can to make it better because it’s just wrong.”

Beyond supporting the transgender community, and marching in the Boston Pride Parade, Eastern Bank seeks to serve the entirety of the LGBTQ community. For five consecutive years now, they have had a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index. Their “Equality Under the Blue” employee network meets regularly with senior leadership to discuss issues that are of importance to their employees and the larger LGBTQ community. As an organization, Eastern Bank was an early leader in providing health insurance coverage for their employees that covers gender-related care and transition-related services and surgery.

And of course, as co-founders of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Stager shared that they have, “…actually gotten some really wonderful resonance. We’ve got 45 small businesses already signed. And we have 12 large companies that are putting in $25,000 each to join as a founding sponsor. And we’re nowhere near done.”

Eastern Bank is right there, joining us for good. When President Donald Trump signed a discriminatory directive banning transgender people from military service, Eastern Bank put up a billboard that read, “Good salutes all those who serve our country. All.” with the letters in “All” representing the colors of the transgender flag.

Eastern Bank continues its long commitment to serve the transgender community as a co-chair, along with Harvard Pilgrim and Google, in the business campaign with Freedom For All Massachusetts. They stand with us to fight against the attempted repeal of our still new, and popularly passed law providing, or rather affirming, those basic rights and protections for transgender people that were placed on the state ballot this coming November.

Eastern Bank’s LGBTQ efforts are neither new nor surprising. They were the first company in the country to sign GLAAD‘s brief asking the United States Supreme Court to strike down the pernicious Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as “DOMA.”

“Eastern’s revenue and bottom line have grown every year,” said Stager. “And our commitment to help protect the rights of people who want to live an authentic life doesn’t diminish our business at all. In fact quite the contrary—people appreciate a company being willing to step out and say what everybody’s thinking.”

That’s a business sentiment so sensible, and kind, that my Yankee-Irish grandmother would have heartily approved. I do too.

Join Eastern Bank in supporting the LGBTQ community generally, and the transgender community specifically, as they continue to fight with us to protect our rights and enrich our lives.