“DC has the largest LGBTQ-identifying community.” This statement was met with sounds of praise, excitement, and support. It was still early in the night, but that moment set the tone for the evening.
The Washington Business Journal kicked off Pride Month with a reception and awards ceremony honoring local and national business leaders for the strides they have made in the LGBTQ community. Among the honorees were Whitman Walker, the DC Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Chefs for Equality, Merrill Lynch, and Marriott International. What made the night even more special was the attendance of Judy and Dennis Shepard, who founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation to tackle hate and intolerance in our society after their son was murdered for his sexual orientation.
The Business of Pride honorees reflected on the journeys that led them to this moment through a moving series of video testimonials. In a room full of business leaders and corporate allies, it was inspiring to see how the working environment has evolved to not only support the LGBTQ community but to empower it, as well.
Our CEO, Everett Hamilton, was recognized for Octane’s work eradicating HIV in the District with our client DC Health and its HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA). When he started working with HAHSTA in 2009, HIV had been declared an epidemic in the District. We are proud of our campaign’s ability to engage audiences about their health in sex-positive ways. To quote Everett, social media “is a terrific way to connect with all of our communities but especially the LGBTQ community, because we know that’s where our community is and that’s where they’re getting the information that’s inspiring them to act on issues that resonate and have so much importance in our lives.”
It was a very proud moment for all of us to watch Everett accept the Business of Pride award in front of his peers, mentors, and community. I’ve only been a part of the Octane family for about six months but was overwhelmed with joy and a sense of purpose knowing that I’m part of a team that truly makes a difference in DC’s diverse community.
We left The Line Hotel with a few rainbow cakes in hand and pride in our hearts for this amazing city that we call home, where diversity is celebrated and love is love.