Drag me to lunch was a great way to end pride month. It was a fabulous panel discussion moderated by Tonya Walley, VP Field & Maintenance Ops, Cox Communications. The panel included Sandra Onassis Lopez, drag queen extraordinaire and performer at Croc’s 19th Street Bistro in Virginia Beach. Tonya was also joined by Sylvia Gray Holley, Supervisor Technical Support, Cox Communications and Kevin Lee, retired veteran, United States Marines and United States Army. Rounding out the panel was Veronica Quick, Supervisor Social Media, Cox Communications and her son Mason who has embodied strength and pride on his transgender journey.
Kevin shared experiences from his military experience and the challenges he overcame being a gay man in the military. He led an open dialogue around the impact of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and gave some inspiring stories of military leadership that supported and protected him later in his career. Sandra also served in the military and shared having to navigate bias and intimidation while serving. It was an open and raw conversation about the realities faced by the LGBTQ+ community serving our country.
Sylvia shared her courage and how she overcame obstacles within her family to find her true self and happiness with her wife. To hear Sylvia discuss candid conversations with her parents was emotional and inspiring. Veronica and Mason spoke about his journey as a transgender youth and how their family supports Mason as he continues to embrace his true identity. To see the emotion Veronica shows speaking about her son is a demonstration of the love every parent should have for their child. Mason has shown determination to overcome hate and embrace his true self.
Tonya led the panel in engaging dialogue around the role of church in everyone’s upbringing. That discussion led to the role faith plays in everyone’s life today. Tonya was eloquent connecting with each panelist and leading an amazing conversation on how all of us need to be allies for those most vulnerable to hate and discrimination.
NAMIC is more than a professional organization. We embody the best of what our community has to offer. We have been on the right side of history from our inception. We believe in the power of diversity and inclusion in the Communications Industry and society at large. Get involved. Join the conversation. Follow us on social media and consider joining us for one of our upcoming events. This moment in time is calling all of us to lean on each other for strength and learn from each other for inspiration.