Updated: Jul 11
Pride weekend is known as a colorful celebration filled with parades, parties, and togetherness. You’ll find Pride festivities everywhere around the world. Major cities like New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Madrid, Berlin, and many more. But let’s not forget why we are celebrating. The month of June is a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots and other uprisings that were a catalyst for the larger gay rights movement to come, as well as a chance for those who are “out” to be visible for their peers who may still be exploring their identify or don’t feel safe enough to live their truth. Pride is a celebration of our commitment to keep fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
On our second Get to Know Our Team series, we are talking to Sawyer Xavier, SimplePrints’ Experience Manager. Sawyer has been a vital SimplePrints team member since 2013 and now we are talking about his journey and the impact Pride has in our community.
1. Tell us more about yourself
I live in Florida with an incredibly friendly cat I found abandoned at my apartment building. I used to travel full time - I’ve visited 28 US states and 10 countries - but the pandemic put a pause on that for now. During my free time, I enjoy video games, playing board games with friends, hiking, snorkeling, painting, and riding my bike.
At SimplePrints, I’m responsible for making sure the end-to-end experience is enjoyable and working well, so I spend a lot of time using the app myself and checking on customer feedback - between our support team and myself, we personally read every single comment and suggestion we get! I love solving problems both in my personal and professional life; working out solutions to an issue is probably one of my greatest passions!
I’m returning to university this year to study Sociology, with a focus on identity and community. I am also queer and transgender, so June is a very special month for me!
2. Why is pride important to you?
I think the visibility that Pride facilitates is incredibly important. Growing up and exploring my identity was difficult because there didn’t seem to be anyone like me. I was born in the early 80’s and we just didn’t talk about the diversity in gender identities at that time, nor did we have many transgender role models in media. As a teenager, I felt so different from everyone else, it was very lonely and confusing. I didn’t understand why I didn’t fit in with either girls or boys. I didn’t start figuring out why I felt that way until I was in my thirties. I know that if there had even been just one person like me, out in the open, living their truth for teenage me to see, I would have figured it out so much faster and gained so much more happiness during my life as a result.
Because I didn’t have that role model growing up, it’s important for me to be that person for someone else now. I love having conversations with other queer and transgender folks who are just starting their journey and being able to share my experiences and knowledge with them, answer their questions, and encourage them to keep exploring!
3. What do you think about the progress that has been made, and what would you like to see more of in the future?
There has been such incredible progress, just during my lifetime. So many of my friends and family have been able to marry the person they love, when such marriages might have been illegal not even a decade ago. There is this fresh awareness of how we experience gender now compared to when I was a teenager, trying to figure myself out. Seeing so many public figures coming out and so many tv shows or movies with LGBTQ+ characters is encouraging as well.
We unfortunately see daily reminders of how much work is still ahead of us. What I’d most like to see in the future is more protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. This is a very vulnerable group of children and teenagers who need our support. Many of them sadly experience violence, abuse, and abandonment from the very adults in their lives who are supposed to protect them. I think that organizations that provide support to these young people, like The Trevor Project and local community LGBTQ+ centers, do amazing work to provide a lifeline to children and teenagers in need of help.
4. How can brands like SimplePrints help support the community?
While it’s fun to paint rainbows on everything, I think it’s more important to create a safe, inclusive space where everyone feels like they can be their authentic self - your customers, your vendors, your employees, everyone. I’ve been lucky to have been met with enthusiastic celebration of my journey from my colleagues, my friends, and my family. This allows me to excel at what I do and bring my best to all my personal and professional relationships. The most important thing companies can do is create an inclusive environment within their company. Little things, like encouraging the addition of pronouns on email signatures or on your chat profile, using inclusive and gender-neutral language, cultivating a company culture that celebrates diversity, or respecting an individual’s choice to be “out” or not, can all go a long way. Listen to the LGBTQ+ individuals within your network to help guide any necessary changes and build a space where everyone feels welcome.
5. How are you Celebrating Pride weekend?
I’ll be going to the big Pride event in my area this weekend with my partner! There are always far more events scheduled this month than I could possibly attend, but the event I’m looking forward to most is a concert this weekend with several local bands and a couple of worldwide acts playing as well!
6. What would you like people to take away from pride month?
I would like people to remember that while the parties and parades are certainly fun, they’re a symbol of our fight for equality. It’s called “Pride” in defiance of all those people who told us that who we are is something to be ashamed of. There is so much you can do to help support LGBTQ+ people in your community and around the world. It could be something big like volunteering and donating to organizations or something small like educating yourself about the issues facing the community and pushing for more inclusive policies in your workplace. There’s a saying that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, and I think the same sentiment can be applied here.
How SimplePrints wants to celebrate pride weekend
We believe in supporting our community and ensuring a safe space for everyone to make long lasting memories together. This Pride weekend, we want to highlight a few of organizations that are doing great work and providing support to the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.
The Trevor Project
Suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
Founded by teachers, works to end bullying, discrimination, and harassment of LGBTQ+ students in K-12 schools.
Serving LGBTQ elders of color through health, wellness, advocacy, and leadership activities to remove isolation and fear, build community, and honor racial and ethnic traditions.