Blog Culture/Agency Life

A CEO’s Reflection: What Pride Month Means to Me

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Phil NardonePresident & Chief Executive Officer

Pride month is a monumental time of the year. It is a time to remember the remarkable equal rights journey the LGBTQ+ community has fought for decades. And it is a month where I personally take some time to reflect on how far we’ve come as a country.

Gay Pride commemorates the series of violent acts between police and gay rights activists, also known as the Stonewall Riots, which began in the early hours of June 28, 1969. After police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, the gay rights movement was born. It is a time to recognize past struggles, past victories, current progress, and celebrate your unique self. It’s a reminder to all that it’s OK to be different and that social norms do not need to be followed.

One of my favorite quotes that I feel sums up the Pride movement is as follows, “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”

When I came out as a gay man, twenty years ago, I not only worried about my family’s reaction, I was also worried about how it might impact my growing agency. Would clients think I was dishonest? Would clients not want to work with an openly gay man, or an agency run by an openly gay man? Would prospects find out and accept me and my firm? Most importantly, would my employees still hold me in high regard and respect me?

I chose the honest, direct approach! I refused to hide who I was, and I embraced being different. I had built a career as a PR professional and built an agency that did phenomenal work for its clients. Before I knew it, I started receiving notes from clients, employees and prospects applauding my honesty. I not only overcame this struggle, I accepted it head-on.

As someone who has experienced coming out in a professional setting, I implore you to always do what makes you happy and never fear the result. It can be a difficult journey, but remember you have a community and hundreds of resources behind you for support. Here are a few:

We are living in historical times, and this week the Supreme Court took a much needed stance declaring that it is unlawful to fire workers for being gay or transgender.

This ruling gives me hope for the future that the work being done for and by the LBGTQ+ community is being heard loud and clear. We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a step in the right direction. I’m proud as the CEO of a mid-size PR firm, an adjunct Professor at Syracuse University, an active PR Council Board Member, and involved participant in various non-profits that I have a leadership platform to help initiate change and I will do my part to further achieve progress.


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