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What does Pride mean to you?

June 24, 2024
By Gus Torrey
Categories Life at Spotnana

How we choose to express and celebrate who we are is shaped in part by the history that preceded us, the way we currently engage with others, and the dreams and aspirations we have for the future.

The month of June is dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and commemorating the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969 (55 years ago), which marked a prominent turning point in LGBTQIA+ history. At Spotnana, we celebrate diversity and are committed to cultivating a welcoming, supportive, and empowering environment for all individuals.

In honor of Pride Month, we spoke with our new LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) leader, Customer Experience Escalations Lead Todd Erickson, to hear what Pride means to him as well as how his perspective on Pride has shaped how he serves his local and global communities.

Honoring those who paved the way

Spotnana Customer Experience Escalations Lead Todd Erickson

Spotnana Customer Experience Escalations Lead Todd Erickson

The meaning of Pride is different for millions around the world. It can be a pursuit of equality, a celebration of identity, a call for education, and more. Todd’s interpretation of Pride is his own.

“I think Pride is not only a feeling, but it is also a remembrance of everyone who came before us,” said Todd. “The LGBTQIA+ community would not be anywhere if it were not for people like Harvey Milk or those involved in the Stonewall Riots. Remembering and knowing their struggles makes us all better people, and we need to move forward with what we remember.”

Todd initially sought inspiration from these leaders when he came out at age 18. Their examples gave him clarity at a time when he found it difficult to figure out who he was and what he wanted to devote his life to.

“They were able to do the impossible at a time when everybody hid far into the closet,” said Todd. “Their accomplishments and lasting legacies are amazing.”

Fostering better communities through involvement

Shortly after coming out, Todd began to explore how he could best honor the memory of those who came before him and carry their work forward into the future.

“There was a fundraising group that I joined in my twenties called ACT UP that started a patrol on Capitol Hill in Seattle,” said Todd. “In the 90’s, it was especially important to protect people.”

The physical and verbal attacks that his Seattle neighbors faced every day represented only part of the challenges they faced while attempting to live authentically.

“I used to volunteer at Seattle’s Bailey-Boushay, a housing facility for people living with HIV and AIDS,” said Todd. “It was a rewarding but mentally exhausting experience given the sadness and death that came every day. There was not a day that I didn’t burst into tears when I came home.”

After years of service to organizations in the Pacific Northwest, Todd answered the call to lead Spotnana’s LGBTQIA+ ERG. For Todd, this is a natural progression of his life’s work.

“I’m definitely exploring how our group can best support their communities as volunteers,” said Todd. “Even if it doesn’t necessarily affect the gay community, I think any volunteering will significantly expand our worldviews and improve how we connect with each other.” 

Driving positive initiatives at Spotnana

Respect Above All, one of Spotnana’s core values, calls for us to treat others with the same respect that we want for ourselves. This starts with acknowledging the inherent dignity of our peers.

“Everyone needs to treat everybody with respect, especially during Pride Month,” said Todd. “I don’t think that Pride needs to be forced on anybody. That is not the meaning of Pride. But it needs to be made known that we have always been here, that we are here, and that we will always be here.”

The creation of ERGs across the company is a clear example of how we actively promote the respect and acknowledgment of different groups that work at Spotnana. This effort is collectively driven at all levels of the organization.

“Upper management not only wants to do this, they’re willing to go above and beyond to bring other initiatives to life,” said Todd.

For this reason and many others, Todd found Spotnana to be the perfect place to begin his new chapter of service to the LGBTQIA+ community.

“In my entire 33-year career in travel, I have never worked for a company that is as inclusive as Spotnana is,” said Todd. “It’s pretty amazing to be able to say that we’re able to start ERGs only a few years in.”