Celebrating Pride Month

Pam Garrettson

This June, we are entering Pride month among nationwide protests against racial injustice and affirming the importance and rights of people of color. This means we acknowledge that when systemic oppression of minorities continues, no oppressed group can advance. We must learn together, lift each other up, and work together to demand and ensure civil rights.

That’s why the Service is celebrating June 2020 Pride with the theme of  Cultivating Resilience Through Diversity. The theme is about fostering strength in community and celebrating inclusion and diversity to support each other through challenging times. Our FWS Pride month is dedicated to enriching the work-life of LGBTQ+ employees and allies by fostering a work environment free of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and where employees feel safe bringing their full authentic selves to work.

As part of Pride month, there are many different ways our employees can listen, learn, support and advocate for LGBTQ+ employees. You can start by watching this video called  Stories of Resilience, featuring one of our very own Migratory Bird Program employees, Pam Garrettson. As a biologist in the Branch of Assessment and Decision Support stationed at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Pam has been a voice of support, safety and equality for all people, and she shares her story in the Service’s feature video.

We asked Pam about why she wanted to participate in the Service's Pride Month celebration and why it’s important for our staff to be allies:

I suppose because I’ve been “out” for nearly 30 years, and over that time, I’ve been able to have frank, sometimes difficult discussions with any number of folks, both formally and informally.  Looking back, I think I hoped to make daily life easier for myself and others, and ultimately, get to a point where sexual orientation simply wasn’t an issue, and wasn’t something at the forefront of my mind.  For me, that has become the case, and I’m grateful to all the people at work and throughout my life who were “allies” long before it was cool.  Getting to that state of ease has surely made me a better employee, scientist, and a better version of myself. 

However, fear and discomfort remain a daily reality for many, and in many areas throughout the world, LGBTQ+ still face grave danger.  There are a lot of resources on how to be a supportive ally, and the willingness to listen is a terrific, and oft-mentioned piece of advice.  But maybe you don’t know where to start, are afraid to ask a “dumb” question, say something “wrong” or express disagreement.  Listening can go both ways, so I’d like to offer up a non-judgmental “safe space” for those kinds of discussions. I can only speak from my own experience, and might very well say something “wrong” myself.  But I’m here, and happy to be an ally to potential allies, and that means everyone.

Thank you Pam, and all the Service staff for sharing their stories, and strengthening our community through inclusion and diversity. Even though we can’t be together in person and gather this year, there are many meaningful ways that we can participate in FWS PRIDE activities and foster a culture of inclusion.

Nanette Seto on Midway Island, where she spent her first field assignment. USFWS.

Last Updated: June 9, 2020