Pride Month is more than a social media hashtag. It serves as a powerful symbol of the progress made in recognizing the rights and humanity of LGBTQ+ individuals. It is an opportunity to celebrate diversity, educate others, and continue the fight for equality and acceptance. At Academy Bank, we believe in uplifting LGBTQ+ voices and supporting the community’s culture and rights. Throughout the month of June, we have highlighted many of our LGBTQ+ associates who contribute to our organization’s success. We would love for you to meet them!
Meet Chris Lee, a Technology Advocate for Academy Bank and proud member of the LGBTQ+ Community. Over the past 6 years, Chris has contributed to the bank in ways that go beyond his role:
He serves on the Pillar Champion selection committee, which recognizes associates who best exemplify our company values in their work and actions. He also served on the Brand & Culture Enterprise Priority Committee in 2022, helping identify areas where we can improve training and communications to make our culture more cohesive and inclusive.
Chris views Pride Month as a time to reflect on how far the LGBTQ+ community has come. Specifically, it’s a chance to celebrate the inclusive representation in municipalities and state houses across the country, the US Congress, and within the current administration.
“Pride is needed to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community and bring to light the rights we must still fight for. It is also a time for those who’ve had to deal with conditional love to feel a sense of community and celebrate with their biological or chosen families that support them.”
Trish has worked with Academy Bank for 3 months. As a Corporate Recruiter, they get to recruit candidates to fill roles in every department in our Corporate HQ. Beyond their role, Trish is a carefree, positive person and a Kansas City sports nut who loves cheering for the teams in our town.
For Trish, Pride Month means paying tribute to those who started the gay civil rights movement in 1969 at the Stonewall Riots. It also means celebrating the existing LGBTQ+ freedoms and continuing to resist the laws and bills that are currently being proposed throughout the country. Today in 2023 there are 471 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the US, including 48 in Missouri and 13 in Kansas.
“We must be visible and show we have always been here, and we are not going away.”
Aaron is a Banking Center Manager II, and he has worked for Academy Bank for 4 years! In his role, he assists clients with their financial needs and ensures their long-term success.
Aaron enjoys seeing people come together and enjoy Pride Month. For him, it is a time to “celebrate being who we are—different and proud of it.”
Aaron believes that the celebration LGBTQ+ rights is incredibly important because it gives us a chance to honor those who came before us and fought for our current rights. “We should always be celebrating that, not just during pride month.”
Aaron’s favorite LGBTQ+ icons include Billy Porter, Lady Gaga, and Cher because they never hesitate to stand up for their beliefs and what they feel is right. “I applaud them for using their voice and their platform to bring awareness to continuing fights.”
One day, he hopes that being LGBTQ+ is as common as being left-handed. “It makes us different, but we’re still human, and it isn’t something we should have to hide or be ashamed of.”
Josh is a Senior Internal Auditor who has worked with us for 8 years.
Josh enjoys athletic activities, including walking his dog (Murphy), swimming, water polo, playing golf, and participating in the Stonewall Kickball and Sand Volleyball leagues (an LGBTQ+ and Ally community-based sports organization).
For Josh, Pride Month represents his freedom and ability to love who he is and openly love the person he chooses without stigma and shame.
He believes that celebrating LGBTQ+ rights is important because it shows community support for those who are struggling or have struggled with their identity.
For the future, Josh hopes that all anti-LGBTQ+ bills are reversed and that protections are put in place so people don’t have to hide who truly are.
Myra has been with us for 5 years and works in IT as an Access Management Specialist.
For Myra, Pride Month is a celebration of humanity’s diversity and a wonderful way to bring visibility to groups that some people simply don’t understand.
As a trans woman who has recently started transitioning, Myra emphasizes the significance of visibility of LGBTQ+ rights. She recognizes that knowing someone who has already gone through the transition process can provide invaluable support, guidance, and reassurance to individuals who are considering or beginning their own transitions. She wishes she had this visibility earlier on.
In Myra’s ideal world, a trans woman can walk down the street and be seen as any other person: deserving of respect and the opportunity for meaningful connections. She hopes that gender and sexuality are not defining factors for individuals and that people won’t face persecution simply because they don’t fit into a limited set of predefined molds.
While achieving this vision may still be a work in progress, Myra finds hope in the love and acceptance she and other LGBTQ+ individuals receive at Academy Bank. It serves as a reminder that change is possible and that progress can be made towards a more inclusive and understanding society.
“Society may not be there yet – but we show, every day, that we can get there, given time.”
Neal has worked with us for 24 years and is the Senior Vice President in Deposit Operations.
Neal is a hard-working, determined, and private (yet fun-loving) person. Many would describe him as an “introverted extrovert.”
For Neal, Pride means the LGBTQ+ community continues to move in the right direction. It represents the growing opportunities for this marginalized group to bring attention to themselves as human beings. “While we are all different in our own ways, we are all the same; people trying to do their best and live a life with their loved ones where they can be successful and happy.”
While many people participate in parades and other community events, Neal is content observing in his own low-key way: “To me, every day I go to work, do my best, and love my loved ones, which is a true embodiment of celebration.”
Neal hopes for a future where people can lead their lives freely, without limitations based on their sexual orientation or whom they love.
Our associates envision a future with equality and inclusivity for all individuals. Advocacy, activism, and continued dialogue are essential in driving positive change and bringing about the future that we hope for.
As we close out Pride Month, we thank our wonderful associates for sharing their stories! We at Academy Bank strive to cultivate a workplace culture that embraces and uplifts individuals from all backgrounds. This is not limited to a specific time frame. Acknowledging and supporting the LGBTQ+ community beyond Pride Month in June is crucial in creating lasting change and brighter futures for our associates and their loved ones.