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June 15, 2023

Happy Pride and Juneteenth from MSM President James Gandre to the MSM Community

Dear MSM Community:

June marks the beginning of Pride Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and the federal holiday of Juneteenth. These important celebrations serve as powerful reminders of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice, honoring marginalized communities’ diverse identities, experiences, and histories, and highlighting the need for continued activism and celebration of progress.

Pride Month reminds us of our progress toward LGBTQ+ equality. However, it is essential to recognize that there are still significant barriers and systemic inequalities that persist. In recent years, there has been a concerning surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in various parts of the country. These laws target the rights and protections of LGBTQ+ individuals, seeking to undermine their rights to equal treatment, access to healthcare, and legal recognition. Under legislative cover, then, we see discrimination, prejudice, and stigmatization perpetuated, all of which creates additional challenges and emotional distress for those affected.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It originated on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery, two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021 was an essential step towards acknowledging our shared national history, celebrating the freedom of African Americans, and promoting unity and reconciliation. It recognizes the horrific and painful legacy of slavery, serving as a reminder that true freedom and equality are fundamental to our nation’s ideals, and it represents a collective commitment to overcoming the dark chapters of our history and working towards a more equitable and just society for all.

At Sunday’s Tony Awards, I couldn’t help but think about how both June celebrations were recognized onstage. We saw victories for Black and non-binary actors (J. Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell) highlighting the growing recognition and appreciation for the diverse voices and experiences within the arts community. These wins mark a turning point, with a more diverse range of individuals achieving broad visibility and recognition, and being celebrated on Broadway’s biggest night of the year.

To all our Community, I send best wishes for wonderful Juneteenth and Pride celebrations!


MSM President James Gandre

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