We’re celebrating pride by showcasing the voices of our alumni community in their own words.
“Pride isn’t just a month in the calendar but, a commitment to the radical act of existing in Queerness, regardless of whom you have or haven’t disclosed to. Pride has always been, at its heart, a form of resistance with its origins steeped in riots and the labor of Black Trans women, so pride to me exists in the spaces where I as a queer Black man can just exist as myself. So while I haven’t marched in a parade in Tel Aviv or Los Angeles with REALITY, this month Pride is also weekend trips to have dinner with Storytellers ‘19: it’s Sunday morning brunch with Takara, or Wine Down FaceTimes with Zach and Zoe. Pride becomes any space where my queerness and blackness (because you cannot separate the two) can be safely expressed, respected, and cherished. It’s knowing that in a country, and a world, that often tells me that I’m without worth or value that there are giants around me who will hold me up unconditionally as my unapologetic self. So every time I’m with my REALITY family I’m at Pride because that safety is a privilege that many that present as queer people of color often do not get to experience.” — Lamar Perry (Storytellers ‘19)
“I celebrate Pride with REALITY by being myself! As a queer woman it is still a risk, even in 2019, to show up authentically. I've always felt supported by the REALITY community just as I am. I'm grateful to the allies who take the time to learn more about LGBTQ folks and work to make us feel included and acknowledged. This month we celebrate our queer ancestors who resisted police violence against our community. The love that fueled that resistance was for themselves and for us, gay straight and in between, so that we all may be free to express ourselves in our full fabulosity. I deeply appreciate that I can be fully fabulous among the REALITY alumni community. We all continue that legacy of love with our collective efforts to tikkun olam.“ — Bevin Branlandingham (Storytellers ‘16)
“Pride to me is all about Diversity & Inclusion, here in Jerusalem we celebrate during Reality Storytellers ‘18. Storytellers last year left on Sunday, June 10th, which was literally the morning after Tel Aviv Pride had ended and I came to Israel about five days early to be able to experience it. Needless to say, it was a mind-blowing experience. I've been to many Pride celebrations all over the world in my 25 years as an out gay man and there was something very different and special about Tel Aviv Pride. And it wasn't only because last year happened to be the 20th anniversary — overall, it felt more joyous and celebratory than Pride celebrations I have experienced most places in North America. It was less commercial overall and it felt refreshing to be at a Pride parade where every other float wasn't a hotel or airline or TV network pushing how progressive they are.” — Jeremy Blacklow (Storytellers ‘18)
“Every pride in DC since REALITY Taste 2018, I’ve organized a massive Pride Party at Tico, which gets transformed from a 200 seat dining room into an all day restaurant and dance bar for 1,000 guests. The restaurant is at the end of the Pride Parade in Washington DC and is a natural destination to celebrate and have fun. Both years (2018 and 2019), my REALITY DC friends come to the party and we all have an incredible time together. I hope that I will be able to go to Israel one year that overlaps with Pride in Tel Aviv - that has always been on my wish list." — Alex Levin (Taste ‘18)
“I was in Israel for my REALITY Storytellers Trip during Pride Month in Israel. As a gay man, I was floored by the Pride flags EVERYWHERE. Not just in the gay neighborhood, but ALL OVER THE CITY. It made me feel welcome and that is not an experience that I arrive in a new city. I took the picture on the right and I feel like it captures the whole thing!” — Eduardo Placer (Storytellers ‘17)
"While I didn't go to Israel to celebrate Pride, the time of Pride coincided with my journey with REALITY and the Forbes 30 Under 30 Global Summit in 2018. Pride, for me, is about being able to show up in the world as my truest, fullest self. As a man of transgender experience and Jewish lineage, I often can feel as if I must choose one or the other—as if they can be divorced from each other and from who I am. Here, I felt embraced as all of me—a visible marriage of identity and experience that I'm proud to be made of." — Alex Schmider (Under 30 '18)
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.