Jean Jacks, RN, is a clinical manager at Maxim Healthcare Services in Memphis, Tennessee.
As a part of the LBGTQ+ community myself, I can hopefully share some perspective on not only why the struggle has been real, but more importantly, why we celebrate and honor how far we have come.
At 56 years of age, I have lived through a time in history where “coming out” was not well received and at times, my own life was threatened. I have learned throughout the years that what people don’t understand, they often are fearful of, and ignorance is born.
The basic human right to live and love was challenged at school, on jobs, at restaurants, in church, at family gatherings and yes, even in the healthcare system. These experiences were not always the easiest to deal with. Like so many others, I knew that staying quiet and allowing others to define me was not the answer. So many in our communities have shared the same types of struggles and as a result, have lost many along the way due to non-acceptance.
It has been through sharing our stories, standing up for ourselves and refusing to sit back silently and allow injustices not to be addressed, that the LBGTQ+ community has seen continued progress. In all states, we are now allowed to marry who we love, and in some states we can adopt and there are laws in place to protect us. While there are still many churches that do not welcome us, we are thankful for those that do. We now, for the most part, can have our spouses or partners to be not only seen but also heard when we enter the healthcare system for whatever reason. They no longer have to pretend they are “friends or family” just to be included. While these things may seem insignificant to many, for the LBGTQ+ community, they are signs of progress and hope for our future.
As an employee of Maxim for the past 10 years, I am thankful for the opportunities that the company affords all of us to advance our careers based on our performance and not the color of our skin, our nationality, our gender, or our sexual orientation. Maxim’s Diversity and Inclusion Board is yet another example of the company’s effort to ensure that all humans are acknowledged and treated fairly.
Pride month, as you can hopefully see, carries a lot of meaning to the LBGTQ+ community as it truly reflects our past, is a celebration of our present and our hope for the future. All of us can continue to have a positive impact by supporting the rights of all humans and acknowledging the struggles that still exist in our society today for many.
To all that have gone before us, thank you and for those that are our future, my hope is that what we stand up for today will help make tomorrow better for others.
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