Belonging and Equity = Meaning and Resilience

by Keith Ashley
Photo: John-Peter Wilhite and Julie Ragland

Like many organizations, Senior Pride is taking a hard look at how we communicate our values and our profound desire to make sure we serve and welcome all older LGBTQI+ people. We want to strengthen our ties to the LGBTQI+ Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and transgender communities. We believe that resilience is directly related to a sense of belonging – but how do we truly create the experience of belonging for everyone in our community?

Over the course of the next twelve months, Senior Pride will work closely with Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) consultants, Julie Ragland and John-Peter Wilhite, to assess and improve our organizational goals, strategy, and culture as they apply to creating a more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible organization.

This work is made possible through a generous grant received from the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.

John-Peter shares: “I have been doing this work for 30 years and I have had the opportunity to learn from so many individuals who REALLY care about creating spaces where all people feel safe to come together and learn to understand each other more. For me there are two key elements of this work: 1) being self reflective so you can find your role along this journey, and, 2) creating an environment where people are willing to lean in to understanding each other, no matter what, versus only wanting to be understood.”

Julie and John-Peter’s work with Senior Pride will include a survey of the membership, individual interviews with around 30 individuals (staff, volunteers and participants), a review of all organizational policies and procedures, as well as education, exploration, and skills development sessions every other month at the start of Steering Committee meetings.

In reflecting on this project with Senior Pride, Julie notes: “Every group we work with is different, with different identities represented and different organizational culture, but there are similarities among all the groups in how people are showing up for this work – the fears, apprehensions, questions, and excitement. […] I think working with Senior Pride is a little bit different … in that it’s a group of people who have historically been marginalized, so in some ways I think people are more willing to understand other marginalized communities, because there’s a sense of understanding what it means to have to work harder to have their voices heard and their needs met.”

Please visit Senior Pride’s Website to read our Diversity Statement.

See the July-August 2021 Edition of Senior Forum for more news. Sign up for our e-list and receive a link to the Senior Forum when each edition is printed.