Life at Fluent

Fluent Voices: An Inside Look at What Pride Month Means to Our Team

Fluent Voices Pride

Fluent Voices is a blog series designed to give employees across all levels and departments within our organization the opportunity to share their stories. In honor of Pride Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community and their allies at Fluent and AdParlor. Stay tuned throughout the year as we continue to feature and celebrate more of the people that make our team unique.

Reflections on Pride From the LGBTQ+ Community

Drew Crawford Headshot

Drew Crawford

Sr. Account Manager, AdParlor

What led you to your current role at AdParlor? 

“Good people know good people, so when a past coworker reached out about a great opportunity with an amazing culture fit, how could I say no?”

Who is your biggest role model/mentor/career influence and why? 

“Definitely my parents. My mom followed her passions through a variety of jobs, while my dad’s been at the same craft for 40 years. Regardless of what they do, they lead with their heart, they find the fun, and always treat others with respect.”

Name your current favorites: 

  • Watching: Two queer-rooted reality competitions that maintain old traditions and push boundaries: Legendary and Rupaul’s Drag Race. 
  • Reading: Anyone else been obsessing over the news for the last 5 years? Yeah…me neither.  
  • Listening to: I recently discovered Coeur de Pirate while trying to learn more French.  
  • Inspired by: Teachers, medics, gardeners: All the nurturers of our world. 

What does Pride Month mean to you? 

“Pride is a celebration of love and a constant protest in a fight for equal rights. It’s a time to thank those who’ve paved the way for equality before us, to mourn those we’ve lost too soon, a time to love ourselves and appreciate our communities, and to continue to push back on senseless conformity. We’ve come a long way, but there is so much work to be done to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society; regardless of their skin, how they identify, or who they love.”

Are there any Pride-related activities you’ll be participating in this month that are especially meaningful in celebrating your identity? 

“For me, Pride has always been about connecting with my community. I’ll be fortunate enough to celebrate with friends in person this year, but I’ll also take the opportunity to contribute to local queer businesses, shops, and restaurants proudly owned by LGBTQ+ people. 

I’m also excited to cheer on my friends at the finish line of the PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally; a six-day bike ride from Toronto all the way to Montreal to raise money for HIV/ AIDS awareness and support.”

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community? 

“I think the biggest change of hearts and minds comes from the smallest conversations. When you hear a snide remark about someone’s sexuality, or how they may present themselves, cut it at the source. Have those tough conversations with your parents, your extended family, with your kids about the strength of diversity. You never know who’s listening, and what an impact it can make. 

For bigger actions, you can donate to your local LGBTQ+ charities, make purchases at queer-owned businesses, and support legislation and politicians that protect gay and trans rights. It seems so simple, but these actions can and do save lives.”

Patrick Sweeney Headshot

Patrick Sweeney

Head of People, Fluent

What led you to your current role at Fluent? 

“I was referred to Fluent, and once I met members of the team I would be working with, it was an easy decision to join!”

Who is your biggest role model/mentor/career influence and why? 

“Years ago, I had a chance to work for two women; Lynze Ballay and Kate Lavender. They each played an equally important role in my development and advancement. Both were inspiring as they were powerhouses! They delivered results. They invested their time in building meaningful relationships.  They saw a problem and fixed it – or empowered others around them to find a solution.  Because of them, I was given a huge opportunity to help grow the business and expand the culture.”

Name your current favorites: 

  • Watching: Just finished Mare of Easttown and Legendary…started Hacks, any suggestions??? 
  • Reading: For fun? Just started, “How Y’all Doing” by Leslie Jordan.
  • Listening to: When listening to music, I’m on Spotify. It may be cliche, but I love all the PRIDE channels. It’s a fun POP blend of past and current music.
  • Inspired by: My family. Whether it be my parents, sister, or niece and nephew, they continuously teach and challenge me. 

What does Pride Month mean to you? 

“Pride is a special and important annual celebration. I remember being in the closet and seeing rainbow flags. I was so alone and craved to be a part of, and have a community. Over the years it has meant different things for me. It has been a time to come together and get more involved. It has been a time to create greater visibility for the community. And it has been an annual reminder to be proud, embrace my differences and the differences of others. I can’t forget to mention it is also an excuse to have a fabulous brunch and then watch or march in the parade.”

Are there any Pride-related activities you’ll be participating in this month that are especially meaningful in celebrating your identity? 

“This year I will miss NYC Pride. But to celebrate, I will be going out to brunch with friends and family. I also must give a shout-out to Fluent. Thanks to the hard-working members of our DEI Team, we all had the chance to be moved and entertained by the legendary Anastarzia Anaquway as part of our Pride Speaker Series. It was a great reminder that there is so much work ahead for the community, but the future is bright. 

Talented queens within the community have often experienced a disproportionate amount of hate, violence, and discrimination, and still, they have been at the forefront to bring visibility to the issues and take a stand (in their impressive heels!) for what is right. Watching Starzy perform reminded me about the wonderful queens who have always made me, and others, feel welcomed.”

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community? 

“I think the important thing to remember is that we can’t be passive all year, participate in one march, and think things are going to improve. It’s an annual commitment. It requires us to self-educate. It requires us to vote. It’s important to talk about the issues with friends and family so they understand how it impacts people. It’s important to personalize these issues. I want and deserve equal rights. These conversations are often not comfortable, but they are important. 

And for allies, remember language matters. Words can be so hurtful or so uplifting especially for people who are coming out. If you hear hurtful/hateful language or subtle microaggressions, let people know it is not okay. When elections occur, learn how the candidates are creating equality for all communities – or if they are supporting/initiating oppressive legislation. When we march, march beside us. And when a friend is going through a hard time, just listen.”

Perspectives from an LGBTQ+ Ally

Melanie Murphy Headshot

Melanie Murphy

SVP of Analytics, Fluent

How do you show up as an ally to members of the LGBTQ+ community at work or in your personal life? 

“For me, being an ally is about creating safe places for people to feel comfortable being their authentic selves and celebrating that. At work, that means building highly diverse teams with a strong culture of inclusion. At home, it means being a loving home base for my children & their LGBTQ+ friends, some of whom are out to their families and some of whom are not.” 

What inspires you to get involved?  

“As an extremely proud parent of a LGBTQ+ youth, my daughter is my inspiration! While the hate and discrimination that she and her friends have experienced is something you never want your children to experience or feel, the way she rises above it is inspiring. She takes on a lot and is an advocate for all her friends. In middle school, she worked with teachers to create educational pamphlets and help launch her middle school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). In high school, she served as secretary of the ally advocacy group, Spectrum, and this year will serve as Vice President of the group. She continually educates our family, and we discuss which organizations to get involved with and support.”

If you liked this post and want to learn more from our team, check out the full Fluent Voices blog series here.