Honoring Pride Month and the power of change

By Sally Crocker

Pride Flag Web

Dr. Stephan Davis could never have predicted the tumultuous world events that would impact his new leadership role with the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) LGBTQ Forum.

As Dr. Davis, HSC Assistant Professor and School of Public Health MHA Program Director, prepared for his incoming year in this important, national position, the world was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, special attention was being paid to health inequities dramatically threatening the lives of African Americans and other vulnerable populations, and the call to end racism and cultural divide was motivating communities across neighborhoods and continents to take action.

This year’s LGBTQ Pride Month has never had more meaning.

Pride Month has always been special for me as an adult,” Dr. Davis shared in a recent ACHE blog post. “Having grown up as part of a Midwestern Black family with traditional values, I was raised to believe that being gay was morally wrong, and I was required by my parents to attend conversion therapy in effort to alter my orientation.”

“It was only as an adult that I was able to begin to embrace all of who I am. For me, this is what National Pride Month is all about.”

Pride Month is a way of bringing people together each June to honor the work that has been done over the last several decades, and continues now, to raise awareness, advocate for and protect LGBTQ human rights.

With experience as a nursing leader, healthcare executive and educator, Dr. Davis said he has witnessed “tremendous change” since he began working in hospitals 15 years ago.

“We see organizations today making bold commitments to LGBTQ inclusion, and over the years we have seen increasing numbers of LGBTQ healthcare executives reaching the highest levels of leadership while being ‘out,’ as accrediting bodies and other healthcare organizations have strengthened their inclusion policies and efforts.”

The national Forum that Dr. Davis now leads has been a part of that change, established four years ago by ACHE in its continuing diversity and inclusion endeavors.

“The progress in healthcare that I’ve seen over my own years of experience has been inspiring, but we still have far to go,” Dr. Davis said.

“As a Black gay man, this Pride Month feels a bit different. In this moment, I believe it is clear that no group will advance and realize true equity without the partnership of others.”

Dr. Davis said he hopes that Pride Month 2020 will encourage dialogue focused on how people of all perspectives can be better allies, build broad coalitions and advocate for justice for all communities and individuals.

“For members of all historically marginalized and excluded groups to be safe from victimization, achieve health, realize their full potential and contribute to society, we must be allies with each other and work together to advance equity, inclusion and belonging for all people,” he said. “Our voices collectively can go farther and have more impact when we work together.”

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