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After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Pride celebrations are making a triumphant return across the nation. From New York City to Los Angeles County and everywhere in between, tens of thousands of people are joining together at Pride events to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Here, a few Life Time team members share what Pride means to them, and how others can support the LGBTQ+ community — not just during the month of June, but all year long.

Ace Thiessen

Personal Training Leader at Life Time, Lakeville

Ace Thiessen

“I celebrate every day just be being me. By not conforming to what the world wants me to me. Even though Pride is the month of June, it’s every day for me. Pride is a reminder to not be afraid. Just reflecting on the fact that Pride was started by a Black transwoman during a time when it was really scary to be authentic, I consider it a privilege to even be able to celebrate Pride. It’s an honor to have a chance to celebrate the history of what it takes to see change in our world. Because change takes getting uncomfortable. It takes pushing boundaries to make people aware of the differences between us as humans and then celebrating those differences. For me, every June is a reminder that if we want change, we have to get uncomfortable.

“People can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community in so many different ways. Even small things, like adding your pronouns to your email signature. The thing about pronouns is we don’t want to make assumptions about someone’s gender identity based on their physical appearance. So, by just putting pronouns into our email signatures, and normalizing doing that, that’s a small step everyone can take to let other people know ‘Hey, I’m an ally. This is a safe space for you. I see you.’”

Tiffany Dismuke

Executive Assistant, Workforce Inclusion at Life Time, Chanhassen

Tiffany Dismuke

“I think that Pride was more important to me when I was closeted, because it was a safe place. It was somewhere I could go with my friends as an ally while I was still figuring things out. It gave me permission to find terms that represented who I was, and it gave me access to people that were like me. However you showed up, you were welcomed. You were accepted. You were part of the community. Pride was a place where you could be your authentic self. You didn’t have to be anything to anyone. Now Pride is a place that I celebrate with my friends and my family. It is the amplification of voices in the LGBTQ community. Pride is joy. Pride is community. Pride is a celebration of who we are.

“You can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community by listening. By listening with the intent of listening. You don’t have to do anything; just listening with the intent of caring and respecting people’s autonomy is extremely powerful. Just respecting that we might not agree, we might not feel the same, but we still have every right to be here, to authentically be ourselves, and to live our lives in peace and safety, just like everyone else. That’s all we ask.”

Robert Kraemer

Manager, Life Time Work, Downtown Minneapolis

Robert Kraemer

“When people think of Pride a lot of people will think of the parade and the glitz and all the showy stuff. Certainly, I loved that when I was first coming out as well. But now, Pride for me is just about living authentically every day. Being who I am and not worrying about what that looks like. And, as the manager of Life Time Work, trying to create spaces that allow other people to feel the same way. I want Life Time Work to be a place where people physically feel safe. A place where they feel comfortable being themselves. When a prospect comes in, I don’t want to make assumptions about them or their family. I intentionally use pronouns and terms that are more gender neutral because I want Life Time work to be a place where they can see themselves.

“Being aware of your language is one of the ways that people can be allies to the LGBTQ+ community. Using terms like partner or colleague. And by speaking up. If you see something or hear something — jokes, language, or policies within an organization that doesn’t feel right or that doesn’t feel inclusive, not just to those in the LGBTQ+ community but to anybody — speak up, say something.”

Holden Herrera

LifeCafe Leader at Life Time, Lakeville

Holden Herrera

“For me, Pride is taking ownership of your own self and being comfortable with whoever and whomever that might be. For the longest time I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Now that I finally am comfortable, I want to be there for others. There are so many people like me who are struggling because they feel different; they don’t feel ‘normal,’ or they don’t have a sense of self because they’re so disconnected. Pride for me is about being a resource. I’ve opened myself up to mentoring young adults through high school panels and educational seminars. I want to make sure they are taken care of and get the resources they need.

“What I hope people learn from my story is to be more open minded. To be kind. You might not understand me at all. You might not understand why I’ve done what I’ve done to my body or why I choose to live my life as a man. You might not understand how I identify. But all of it is valid. My thoughts are valid. My feelings are valid. Everyone deserves to feel seen and appreciated.”

Learn more about the history of Pride Month and discover ways to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ communities here.

Julie Dulude

Julie Dulude is a Twin Cities-based writer.

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