June is Pride month, and marks L.A. Care’s sixth year as a sponsor of Los Angeles area Pride events. For Luis Ramirez, L.A. Care’s Supervisor of Internal Communications, this was his first year being the lead organizer of the company’s participation in the LA Pride Parade & Festival, although he’s been involved since the very beginning.
Luis has been with L.A. Care for nine years. Early on, he and other LGBTQ+ employees would gather socially on a monthly basis. They eventually began talking about what they could do to be more involved, and what they could do organizationally.
Soon the then relatively new CEO John Baackes had an idea – let’s be a part of LA Pride.
Luis was fully motivated to volunteer to be a part of Pride Month with L.A. Care. “Working for an organization that values diversity is inspiring. The company values the change that I want to see in the world,” said Luis. “Trans people, gays and lesbians are under attack, and it wasn’t too long ago that we were being decimated by the AIDS epidemic and the government wasn’t doing anything. And now, we can say to all of these people, hey, we see you, we are here for you. And from a health perspective. I wanted to be a part of that.”
So in 2016, the first L.A. Care Pride sponsorship and contingent was born at LA Pride.
“The first year was a lot of fun,” he says. “I have a tight-knit group of work friends, and we made sure we had a great turn out. There was an amazing sense of community at that first Pride, and I feel like we’ve only grown from there!”
L.A. Care has been a sponsor and participant in Los Angeles area Pride events since, except for the years when Pride activities were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always been a team effort,” Luis says. While it’s a lot of volunteer time and hard work, the benefits are profound. “It’s amazing to see staff bring everyone they know to come support. It’s not just our LGBTQ+ employees either. We have allies who are parents of LBGTQ+ children, and they bring the entire family to support that one individual. There are partners with their children, there are employees who just want to be allies. Everyone has different reasons why this matters to them.”
Next year, Luis hopes to see even more people involved. This year, the event saw one of the largest turnout of L.A. Care employees and their guests – 62 – second only to that first time in 2016. Involvement and support is critical in these times. “I want to see a greater acceptance and less vilification of trans people in our community,” said Luis. “I feel like it’s ‘gang up time,’ and drag queens and trans people are the flavor of the month. I don’t understand it.”
Pride reminds us of these injustices and the sacrifices that many have made, memorializing all those we have lost in the LGBTQ+ community. But Pride is also about celebration.
“I love that I live in a world where I see 16, 17-year-olds with their boyfriend or girlfriend and they are able to say I’m non-binary,” Luis says. “We made that happen – we kept up what those before us did. I know they can’t live that life in every state. But we can spread that acceptance from here. It’s important to take stock in how far we’ve come. I look at these young people, and I know they’ll be fine.”
See the 2023 L.A. Care contingent and CEO John Baackes on ABC7