Why I’m Proud that Matter Celebrates Pride

Matt Mendolera-Schamann

Next week marks 12 years at Matter for me, and I’m sure to many that seems like a long time for someone to spend at any agency in the world of public relations, social media, digital marketing and creative. Yet it doesn’t feel odd to me, because we put a lot of emphasis on culture and employee retention here – and there are a lot of us who have been here for 5, 7, 9, 11 years (or more). One of the primary reasons I’ve always been excited to be a part of the Matter family is the incredibly supportive, nurturing, passionate and fun culture we maintain. Key to that is how Matter has always valued diversity and inclusiveness – and I can’t understate how much that has helped me flourish personally here, and has contributed to our impressive and rapid growth over the past 15 years since our founding.

I arrived in Boston shortly after exiting college and spending some time freelance writing following a handful of internships. I was excited to start a new life in a new city – one that was ahead of the curve in legally recognizing equality, and had a pretty progressive reputation. And it was also exciting to arrive during June, when I could experience Boston’s Pride festival at City Hall Plaza for the first time, right after I got settled in and before I’d even finished unpacking.

For those unfamiliar, June is traditionally recognized as Pride Month throughout the U.S., honoring the 1969 Stonewall riots in NYC, a major tipping point in the fight for acceptance and rights for those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer. Cities all over the nation observe the month with parades, festivals and celebrations – Pride is happening this week in Boston, and next week for our colleagues in Matter’s Providence and Portland offices. (Sorry Boulder, you’ll have to wait until fall for yours!) Aside from the inherent entertainment value associated with not-so-moderate alcohol consumption and watching drag queens on floats, Pride holds a special place in many of our hearts. It’s inspiring to feel part of something bigger and not alone, especially when you’re just coming to terms with yourself, or have gone through some challenges and come out on the other side. Pride celebrations are a great way not just for members of the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate how far we’ve come personally and as a whole, but also for allies – including organizations and corporations – to demonstrate their support in a visible way. This year, Matter is proud to more formally participate in Pride Month than we have in the past, and from the enthusiastic response among the staff in all five of our office locations, it’s clearly a great source of pride for all of us.

I came out (16 years ago this week!) in a family environment and economic situation that was much more fortunate than many other members of the LGBTQ+ community do each day. I had a huge network of family and friends who accepted me immediately, and I never experienced job challenges or employment instability as a result. While I’ve certainly faced uncomfortable and even hostile circumstances over the years, I’ve never really had to deal with the harsh realities that many others do – like members of the trans community who face more than double the normal rate of unemployment, or even the more than four in five LGBTQ workers in the U.S. (82%) who observe homophobia in their own workplace. Looking around today and seeing my colleagues proudly displaying rainbow buttons with our agency logo on them, and rocking all the colors of the rainbow as part of this year’s Pride celebration? It is – quite honestly – heart-warming. It’s exhilarating. Even better? It’s all part of an effort to raise thousands of dollars Matter is contributing to the Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ and questioning youth.

Here at Matter, showing our support for Pride is about showing our support for each other, and everyone who is a part of our greater community – our neighbors, partners, clients, families, and fellow citizens –and maintaining the same level of respect and inclusion we’ve always woven into the fabric of who we are.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the management team at a company that goes above and beyond regularly to show its employees how much we care about them as people, and value their diverse contributions, talents and identities. We often say that at our core, we’re just good people doing good work. And part of what enables us to credibly hang our hat on that “good” claim is we do what we can to make a positive impact not just in our employees’ and clients’ lives from a business standpoint, but also on a personal level.

Participating in Pride and sending this clear message may be one small way to show our commitment and do our part – but it’s a meaningful and visible one. And I, for one, am really proud of that.

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