Pride Breakfast Celebrated Inclusion in the Workplace
A subdued, yet celebratory atmosphere prevailed as individuals shared their life-altering experiences and the progress they’ve seen for LGBTQIA individuals in the workplace.
The occasion was the annual Pride Scholarship Breakfast at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Two Hallmark Cards, Inc. executives, Carol Hallquist and Buck Wimberly, served as keynote speakers for the 6th annual fundraising event. However, it was Wimberly who shared the story of his heterosexual marriage, divorce and coming out in 2008; alumnus Quinten Sepe talked about his transgender experience while a student and work study at UMKC; and UMKC staff member Angela Cottrell fought back tears as she relived telling her mom that she is a lesbian.
The progress in the workplace has been remarkable for the three: Wimberly and his partner are now raising their five sons from previous marriages. He is encouraged to be inclusive, weaving elements of the LGBT community into products and resources at Hallmark, including the “It Gets Better” video created by HERE (Hallmark’s LGBT resource employee group).
Sepe is the person “he needed to be” and is sharing his life with his partner. He was empowered to be the student he truly was and “is a Roo everywhere I go.”
According to Cottrell, she is “living the dream.” She is Director of UMKC Student Life and made it clear before assuming the position that she was a proud lesbian. Cottrell now serves as a resource for UMKC LGBTQIA students.
The overarching theme – From 9 to 5: PRIDE in the Workplace – was one of inclusion and empowerment to “bring your full self to work.” The speakers stressed the value in being allowed to be the real you and to incorporate that into everything you do, every day.
The event also featured an ensemble of the Kansas City Women’s Chorus – Heartsong – offering three songs; the lyrics of one song included “I’ll paint you a rainbow designed with love,” lyrics quite appropriate for the occasion.
Funds raised from the breakfast support the LGBTQIA Scholarship and the Pride Endowment Assistance Fund, an emergency fund for students who are experiencing financial difficulty due to loss of family support.
“Funds raised today are going to a good cause. They offer hope and encouragement to help students feel good about the university and their workplace,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Last year, approximately $27,000 was raised.”