This blog post features a Duane Morris staff member in celebration of Pride Month.
Greetings! I come in peace and I am here to share a little bit about me. My name is Raylene (or Ray – your call), and I joined Duane Morris roughly 10 months ago as a Legal Assistant with the Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration group in the Chicago office. I came out as bisexual at the age of 21 and was fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family. A few years later, I moved alone from California to Chicago. Every single person I met for the next couple years was brand new to me and of course, knew nothing about me either. During this time, the majority of the people I met had the tendency to assume that I am straight and/or treated me differently when I told them that I identify as bisexual. Having such a significant part of me ignored and misunderstood brought back feelings of isolation, frustration, and loneliness, to name a few. However, this encouraged me to practice self-acceptance more than ever before and to seek ways to help others like me. In January of this year, I found an LGBTQ+ organization to join and it’s been such a joy to be a part of. I am so happy to be around people again who understand me and can make me feel like I belong.
During my time serving the youth with the Center on Halsted, I have seen so many kids and young adults finally find a space where their identities are recognized and accepted. From the very beginning, I was surprised, humbled, and overwhelmed to see the impact that providing a safe space for people had on their wellbeing. I am sharing this because I think it’s important for people to realize that everyone has the power to make an impact on LGBTQ+ lives. Together we can make our community a better place.
Pride month is as much of a time to celebrate as it is to acknowledge the issues our community still face today. Seeing firsthand what these groups of people working together can do to make the world a safer place for others gives me hope that we are getting better as a whole day after day. Every day I am grateful to be surrounded by supportive friends, family, and now, a workplace – shout out, Duane Morris! – that gives me permission to be myself proudly.