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Painting the Path to Equality

Values, CompanyRick Parnell, COO of United Nations FoundationComment

Jichong Wu from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

Sunita Rao from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

From the moment I arrived in New York last September for the United Nations’ General Assembly, I began hearing buzz about a rainbow crosswalk that was to be painted in front of the UN Headquarters there. I was so moved by the incredible symbolism held within that seemingly small gesture.

The image of a “rainbow brick road” leading to the steps of such an important and internationally recognized structure was one that stuck with me, even before I ever saw it. And for it to be present for the United Nations’ General Assembly was a remarkable moment for LGBTI rights and human rights on the international stage.

The rainbow crosswalk was orchestrated by the UN’s Free & Equal campaign, which pushes for lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, and intersex equality globally. Thanks to their efforts, during the entire duration of the two-week General Assembly meeting last year, people from around the world walked this brightly-colored symbol of hope and awareness as a literal pathway to the UN. Seeing world leaders walk across the #path2equality (as it was aptly named) – it felt like the worldwide LGBTI community might be on the path to equal footing. 

Christinna Molley from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

Josh Slusher from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

Bernadette Francis from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

As a gay man and Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations Foundation, I’ve spent decades of my life dedicated to supporting both LBGTI rights and the work of the United Nations, and I felt the impact of that gesture on a very personal level.

The crosswalk and the meetings that took place during that General Assembly and since then, are steps in the right direction. But the fact of the matter is that we have much more work to do. In more than 70 nations, consensual same-sex relationships are criminalized, exposing millions to the risk of arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. And even throughout the United States, where much progress has been made, members of the LGBTI community still suffer from discriminatory legal and policy obstacles that impinge upon their basic human rights.

In spite of that, our goal is clear: We must continue to speak up and speak out for these individuals; they deserve the freedom to love and live as they are, here and across the globe.

Kimberly Richter from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

Mike McColpin from UNF, photographed by John Loomis

Which is why I’m so proud that we’ve partnered with Gap Inc. and UN Free & Equal to promote awareness of LGBTI issues for Pride Month. Together we have the influence and the reach needed to make a real and positive impact.

As part of Gap Inc.’s #WearYourPride campaign, 30 percent of sales from Gap brand’s Pride t-shirts will be donated to the UN Foundation to benefit Free & Equal. On top of that, Gap Inc. brands will offer special, Pride-themed eGift Cards this year. For every Pride eGift Card sold during the month of June, $2 will be donated to the UN Foundation in support of Free & Equal.

These donations help us in our fight for fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, and intersex people everywhere.

We’re immensely proud to have a partner like Gap Inc. to stand with us and our LGBTI friends at home and around the world, and we hope you’ll join us.

UNF COO Rick Parnell (center) and UNF employees, photographed by John Loomis

#WearYourPride: See how other Gap Inc. employees are celebrating their pride in 2017. Meet Janine | Meet Damien | Meet Roy | Meet Nick

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