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Wearing Pride on our sleeves

ValuesTara R. Hunt, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allies of the movement — these groups are collectively known to the world as LGBTQA; at Gap Inc., they're known as family.

Some 300 Gap Inc. employees, their families and friends descended on downtown San Francisco this weekend for an especially celebratory Pride Parade, which came on the heels of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision — same-sex marriage is the law of this land. The company's Chicago and New York City counterparts did the same, with a particularly poignant photo op outside New York City's Stonewall Inn, where sparks of the LGBTQA movement first ignited.

Hundreds of Gap Inc. employees in Los Angeles and Albuquerque kicked things off earlier in the month at their own Pride celebrations.

"It was such an extraordinary experience to be part of this Pride Parade in particular. I continue to be grateful to Gap Inc. for the remarkable experiences I am exposed to," said Kimiko Murota, Senior Manager of Store Operations for Old Navy.

Tom Foley, president of Gap GEAR (Gay Employees, Allies and Resources), said there was a last-minute surge in registrants after the court ruling. A huge percentage of the group was straight allies, Foley said, acknowledging tireless backing from Gap Inc. as well for funding and participation.

"I think the ruling gave people a lot to be excited about to turn out in force for Pride — everywhere was packed and the parade was huge," Foley said. "I felt like people were waving a lot more American flags this year now that our relationships will be fully recognized by the government."

Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck, who made a statement on the historic ruling on behalf of the company, was on hand at the parade to share his personal connection to the movement. Peck's uncle was gay, in a long-term relationship for many years, but that uncle never felt comfortable acknowledging this to Peck's family. They only learned more after his uncle's death — when Peck met his uncle's partner for the first time.

"It was a sad story, but I think it underscored how far we've come in terms of acceptance for LGBT people in much of the western world, and also the openness Art wants to foster within the company," Tom said. "Everyone knows someone who is LGBT, whether that person is openly so or quietly struggling with that fact, and once people realize that and understand that we are their friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, acceptance and respect follow."