Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP | 20th Anniversary 2004 - 2024
Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP | 20th Anniversary 2004 - 2024

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Statement on Pride Month

June 2023

On behalf of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, we
would like to recognize and celebrate Pride Month, a time when the LGBTQ+ community and its
allies come together to honor the progress made in the pursuit of equality and highlight the
challenges that still persist. This year, Pride Month takes on an even greater importance given the
proliferation of anti-trans legislation that has been passed around the country, making it essential
for us to stand against transphobia, homophobia, and all other forms of discrimination and bias
and advocate for the human rights of all LGBTQ+ individuals.

In 2023, more than 450 bills have been proposed across the country that aim to restrict the
rights and well-being of transgender individuals, targeting areas such as healthcare, education,
legal recognition, and public existence. So far, 66 of these bills have been passed. This surge in
state and national anti-trans legislation is unprecedented both in number and scope. In comparison,
2022 witnessed 26 bills enacted out of the 174 proposed. We must remain vigilant and continue to
resist hateful legislation.

The history of Pride Month is deeply rooted in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It traces back
to the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, a pivotal moment when the LGBTQ+ community fought back
against oppression and police brutality. These riots became a turning point, sparking a new wave
of activism and empowering individuals to demand equality and justice.

Pride Month serves as both a celebration of the progress achieved and a protest of the
continued discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to honor individuals who
have dedicated their lives to championing LGBTQ+ rights and to recognize the battles fought to
secure legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

We must acknowledge the significant contributions that Black and Brown LGBTQ+
members of the Pride movement have made. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman,
became a prominent figure during the Stonewall Riots. Johnson’s leadership and involvement in
various LGBTQ+ organizations helped pave the way for progress and set the stage for future
activism. Sylvia Rivera, a Latina transgender activist, was another influential figure in the
aftermath of the Stonewall Riots. She co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries
(STAR), an organization advocating for the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming
individuals, particularly those experiencing homelessness and poverty. Rivera’s tireless advocacy
highlighted the intersecting struggles faced by queer people of color and amplified their voices
within the broader movement.

These individuals and others, often marginalized within both the LGBTQ+ community and
society at large, have brought intersectionality and inclusivity to the forefront, highlighting the
importance of addressing the specific challenges faced by queer people of color.

In addition to their leadership in activism, Black and Brown LGBTQ+ individuals have
made significant cultural contributions. The ballroom culture, predominantly shaped by Black and
Latino LGBTQ+ communities, emerged in the 1960s and became a vibrant expression of selfidentity,
resilience, and community building. Ballroom culture celebrated diverse gender
expression and provided a safe space for individuals to explore and showcase their true selves. The
documentary Paris Is Burning brought the ballroom culture to the mainstream, showcasing the
creativity, talent, and struggles of Black and Brown LGBTQ+ individuals.

The activism of Black and Brown LGBTQ+ individuals continued to grow in the following
decades. The AIDS crisis in the 1980s disproportionately affected communities of color, and
activists like Phill Wilson, the founder of the Black AIDS Institute, played a crucial role in raising
awareness, advocating for healthcare equity, and fighting against the stigma surrounding

Today, activists like Janet Mock, a Black transgender writer and television producer,
continue to elevate the voices and experiences of Black and Brown LGBTQ+ individuals. Mock’s
groundbreaking memoir, Redefining Realness, and her work on television shows like Pose have
shed light on the unique struggles faced by transgender women of color and helped foster greater
understanding and empathy.

As a plaintiff-side law firm, we remain committed to advocating for the rights of all
individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We stand firmly against any
form of discrimination, including the unjust laws that target the transgender community. During
this Pride Month, let us celebrate the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community, honor the
brave individuals who fought for LGBTQ+ rights, and continue to take a stand for a more inclusive
and equitable society.

Ways to Engage

Engaging with LGBTQ+ books, TV shows, and movies during Pride Month allows us to
celebrate and amplify the diverse voices and experiences within the LGBTQ+ community. These
stories provide representation and visibility for LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering a sense of
belonging and empowerment. By immersing ourselves in these narratives, we gain a deeper
understanding of the challenges, triumphs, and resilience of LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering
empathy, compassion, and acceptance. Moreover, LGBTQ+ media educates society about the
history, struggles, and ongoing fight for equality by challenging stereotypes and promoting
inclusivity. Below we provide a handful of examples of TV shows, books and movies that highlight
diverse representations of the LGBTQ+ experience.

TV Shows:

  • Pose – A groundbreaking series set in the ballroom culture of 1980s New York City.
  • Dear White People – A satirical comedy-drama that follows a group of Black students at a
    predominantly white Ivy League university, exploring issues of race, sexuality, and
  • Vida – A drama series that revolves around two Mexican-American sisters navigating their cultural identity and sexuality in East Los Angeles.
  • The L Word – A groundbreaking television series that originally aired from 2004 to 2009, with a revival titled The L Word: Generation Q airing from 2019 onwards. The show follows the lives and relationships of a group of predominantly lesbian and bisexual women living in West Hollywood, California.
  • Heartstopper – A Netflix series that follows the evolving friendship and blossoming romance between two teenage boys, Nick and Charlie, as they navigate the complexities of love, identity, and acceptance in high school. Heartstopper captures the joys and challenges of young love while addressing important themes of LGBTQ+ representation, mental health, and the power of friendship.


  • The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman – A comprehensive exploration of the gay and lesbian civil rights movements, this book provides an insightful account of LGBTQ+ individuals’ early struggles from the 1950s to the present day. Through interviews with politicians, military officials, and community members, the book sheds light on the fight for equality in various spheres of life.
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts – Combining investigative reporting and compelling storytelling, this book examines the rise of the AIDS epidemic. It offers a powerful narrative by focusing on the experiences of doctors, politicians, scientists, and ordinary people affected by the government’s negligence and indifference.
  • Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell – Love Wins recounts the personal moments and conversations among legal professionals, activists, and individuals who fought for marriage equality. It highlights the touching story of a dying man’s last wish and the collective efforts that led to the landmark case for marriage equality.
  • How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France – Inspired by the documentary of the same name, this book vividly portrays the journey of activists and AIDS-infected individuals who tirelessly researched AIDS and potential cures. It delves into their desperate attempt to save lives amidst the challenges and stigma surrounding the epidemic.
  • Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde – This work is a powerful collection of essays, speeches, and poems by Audre Lorde that explores the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class, inspiring readers to resist injustice and find their voice in the face of oppression.


  • Moonlight – An Academy Award-winning film that tells the story of Chiron, a young Black man navigating his identity and queerness in Miami.
  • Tangerine – A comedy-drama following two transgender women as they navigate the streets of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.
  • Pariah – A coming-of-age film centered around Alike, a Black lesbian teenager in Brooklyn, as she explores her identity and relationships.
  • The Watermelon Woman – A groundbreaking film by Cheryl Dunye that explores the journey of a young Black lesbian filmmaker researching the life of a fictional Black actress from the 1930s.
  • Paris is Burning – A groundbreaking documentary that offers a vibrant and intimate look into the ball culture of New York City in the 1980s, showcasing the artistry, resilience, and community of Black and Latino LGBTQ+ individuals as they create spaces of self-expression and survival.

You can also support the LGBTQ+ community by attending Pride events. Pride events provide a visible and powerful platform for members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their identity, history, and achievements. Pride events also serve as a means of raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues, promoting acceptance, and challenging stereotypes and prejudices. They create opportunities for allies to show support and learn from the experiences of the community. Additionally, these events can be empowering for individuals who may still be in the process of exploring their own identities and coming out, as they witness the diversity and strength of the LGBTQ+ community. By attending Pride events, people contribute to a more inclusive and accepting society, where everyone can live authentically and free from discrimination.


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