The image shows the front entrance of a modern building with a curved facade, featuring large windows. Two flagpoles are positioned on either side of the entrance: the American flag is flying on the left, and the Pride flag is flying on the right, symbolizing inclusion and support for the LGBTQ+ community. The sky is clear and blue, and the building is surrounded by green foliage and well-maintained landscaping.

The history of the Pride movement

By Shelly Clark

On the night of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Members of the community and their allies took to the streets to protest the police harassment. The riot continued for several days, and although no one knew at the time, this would become the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ movement. This pivotal event defined why we now recognize June as Pride Month, but the struggle for equality in the eyes of the federal government began much earlier.

More than seventy years ago, President Eisenhower signed an executive order banning LGBTQ+ Americans from serving in the federal government, historically known as the Lavender Scare. Over far too many years, up to 10,000 LGBTQ+ federal employees were investigated and interrogated, and many lost their jobs simply because of who they were and whom they loved.

Similarly, during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” period that started in 1993, the Department of Defense viewed homosexuality as incompatible with military service and discharged known members of the LGBTQ+ community. It took over 16 years to repeal this policy and law after the courts ultimately found it discriminatory.

Raising the Pride flag

By acknowledging and celebrating national Pride Month, the federal government has come a long way from its past and taken strides toward a more diverse and inclusive culture. Many federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, now participate in and celebrate Pride Month throughout their organizations through many activities, observances and celebrations. Perhaps one of the most powerful ways an organization or an individual shows support for the LGBTQ+ community is by displaying the Pride flag throughout June.

Flag raising as a symbol has existed for centuries. It represents a powerful emblem of hope, strength and resilience, and raising the Pride flag is just that. When displayed, it represents a symbol of support, community, inclusion and for many others, a safe space to be who they are without ridicule, judgment or harassment. The Pride flag represents hope and support for diversity, inclusion and allyship for this community.

In a ceremony led by Secretary Granholm on June 6, DOE raised the Pride flag once again this year. Since 2021, DOE has led federal agencies in this effort.

Closer to home, WAPA’s Pride Employee Resource Group focuses on bringing equality, diversity, inclusivity and a welcoming environment to all WAPA employees. Their main goal, during this first year, was to lead efforts to raise the Pride flag at WAPA. In conjunction with DOE’s efforts, WAPA’s Pride ERG helped raise the Pride flag at WAPA Headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, and the Sierra Nevada regional office in Folsom, California, on June 6, 2024.

While there was no formal ceremony, employees in Lakewood and Folsom were encouraged to join WAPA Pride ERG members in celebration of accomplishing their main goal for the year. If you visit either building in June, please take note of the Pride flag and the pride WAPA celebrates for all its employees and their diversity.

We asked Charles Montañez, WAPA’s Equal Employment Manager and Inclusion and Diversity Director, what raising the Pride flag at WAPA meant to him, his team and WAPA.

“This is more than raising a flag. This is more than raising this particular flag. This is about the work the Pride ERG did, in conjunction with our senior leaders and others, to move the talk about diversity and inclusion at WAPA into action,” he said. “Now staff and other ERGs clearly understand what ERGs can do for employees and an organization, and it clearly shows support from WAPA’s leadership for all employees.”

Montañez continued, “With this small but important step forward, we see what inclusion and acceptance looks like at WAPA. This will hopefully lead to many more ERGs starting up and making a difference in their own way as well. It’s important that this isn’t seen as special rights. This is about equal rights and doing the right thing. This is about including everyone, every day, in order to be the best WAPA we can be.”

True colors

You may have seen the Pride flag at community events, parades, outside homes, painted on crosswalks, and, yes, flying over many office buildings, federal facilities and businesses. But why do we raise the Pride flag, and why choose that particular flag?

The rainbow flag or Pride flag has become a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community, allies and their social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, representing the spectrum of human sexuality and gender. The use of the rainbow flag as an outward symbol of identity or allyship, and a visual image of LGBTQ+ pride, originated in San Francisco, California, around 1979. It has since become a common symbol of LGBTQ+ pride at events worldwide.

The Pride flag, originally designed with eight stripes and first flown in 1978, was modified a year later to the seven striped flag which was used exclusively for almost twenty years. Since that time, the Pride flag has morphed into a symbol even more inclusive to the community it represents today and continues to capture the multilayered diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.

Before the introduction of the rainbow colors we associate with today’s Pride flag, LGBTQ+ communities have used various rainbow flags to focus attention on specific causes or groups within the community such as transgender people, those fighting the AIDS epidemic and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people of color.

In 2017, the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs released the Philadelphia Pride flag, which added black and brown stripes to the rainbow Pride flag to recognize and uplift people of color in LGBTQ+ communities. This was in response to a longstanding history of discrimination and exclusion toward Black, indigenous and other people of color, and has changed the original rainbow flag to represent these groups with a flag now commonly flown today as the Progress Pride flag.

If you are interested in joining the WAPA Pride ERG, please email Pride@WAPA.gov.

For more information about Pride Month or interest in any of our other Special Emphasis programs, we encourage you to visit the OEID Special Emphasis website at: Special Emphasis Programs (sharepoint.com).

A group of approximately 11 people standing at the base of a flagpole with trees behind them. They are in business attire and the sun is shining on them.
SNR WAPA Employees and Regional Manager, Michelle Williams, supporting the flag raising at the SNR Office location in Folsom, California.
Progress Pride flag on a flagpole waves in the breeze in front of the WAPA Headquarters building in Lakewood, Colorado.
Progress Pride flag waves in the breeze in front of the WAPA Headquarters building in Lakewood, Colorado.
Five people holding a Progress Pride flag in from of doors to a building.
WAPA Pride Employee Resource Group members holding the Progress Pride flag in front of the WAPA Headquarters building in Lakewood, Colorado.

Click on image to view full size.

View Recent Articles

One-stop tool now available for transmission permitting

DOE’s new portal streamlines transmission project permitting, cuts review timelines and enhances coordination with Tribes and stakeholders.

Kayti Bashore honored with HR Strategic Partnership Award

Kayti Bashore received the 2024 HR Strategic Partnership Award for her outstanding leadership and collaboration with HR, exemplifying excellence and fostering organizational success.

EPTC gets an upgrade

Discover the exciting new upgrades at WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center, featuring modern meeting spaces, enhanced training simulators and more.

Honoring Juneteenth

This day marked a pivotal moment of freedom and hope, a reminder of the enduring fight for equality and justice.