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Dara Kagan

Dara Kagan

First Vice President, Commercial Banking, Northeast Region

It feels like ages since we have been able to come together. LGBTQ+ Pride, internationally recognized each June, coincides this year with a mass gathering of every other community, as many of us remove our masks and embrace friends and family for the first time in months. Being seen, and the comforting feeling of gathering, has never felt more crucial. Coming together to celebrate the beauty, vibrancy, and diversity of our community and emerging from quarantine is wonderful.

This year, pride and its attendant joy feels more necessary than ever, as it seems we are inundated with attacks on LGBTQ+ rights in all arenas: transgender rights and the right to culturally competent healthcare, discriminatory legislation, and a Supreme Court case that may allow adoption agencies the right to refuse child placement in LGBTQ homes.

While we could not take to the streets last summer to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, we saw incredible activism throughout our communities in standing up to police violence and the disproportionate harm it brings to Black communities and other communities of color, the outraged and exuberant protests that flooded the streets from New York to San Francisco. We are so proud to be the first U.S. bank to endorse HR 40, calling upon the Federal Government to form a commission to study the effects of slavery and explore appropriate remedies and reparations for African Americans. Through the past year, we have seen more and more light shed on the systemic violence Asian American Pacific Islanders, Latinx, and Black Americans endure, and continue to stand with these communities—as part of these communities—against violence and discrimination. Just as being seen as a part of a community that is often marginalized and representation and public visibility is key to leading proud, open, safe lives, it is this very visibility that makes all of us vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

Regardless of the challenges and obstacles that may lie ahead for the LGBTQ+ community, Amalgamated remains firm in its commitment of allyship—and we are proud to share some of the ways which we have stood up for LGBTQ+ rights this past year.

  • We have openly endorsed HR 5, The Equality Act, and are one of 416 companies included in the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, which is the largest business coalition in support of legal LGBTQ equality in the movement’s history.
  • We were recognized as “One of the Best Places to Work” in 2021 by the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. We were incredibly honored to have received a perfect score of 100 on the most stringent index to date. This achievement serves as a testament to our dedication as a corporate leader in the realm of LGBTQ+ equality.
  • We testified in front of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and The Office of Management and Budget (HHS/OMB) against a Trump-era rule change to eliminate anti-discrimination safeguards for LGBTQ+ healthcare. We are happy to celebrate, along with client and organizer Freedom for All Americans, the Biden administration’s reversal of this rule change and the re-enabling of anti-bias protections in health care for transgender people.

Our Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) has also been quite busy the past six months. LGBTQ+ employees and allies were invited to a Lunch and Learn about being Out at Work, sparking conversation about pronoun use, anti-discrimination law, and how to talk to children about LGBTQ+ issues. The ERG read and discussed Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters, one of the first books written by a transgender author to be published by a major publishing house, celebrating a huge milestone. Peters’ novel had us thinking about the tough questions around reproductive justice, queer parenting, violence in the transgender community—and, of course, transgender joy. The ERG will also be engaging with queer art via an interactive, online painting class focused on Keith Haring and the history of social activism through art. It is crucial not only that we find moments of happiness and illumination, but also new ways to see and engage with our own communities and those of our allies.

This June, we have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledge the continued challenges to LGBTQ+ basic rights, and advocate for continued improvement and protection of these rights. We look forward to seeing you (safely!) celebrate this month, and to finding the Pride and joy in LGBTQ+ life all year round. Happy Pride!