CELEBRATING PRIDE IN THE WORKPLACE AT KEHOE DESIGNS

In the past year, we all can agree that a lot has changed in our workplaces. But the importance of inclusion and diversity hasn’t gone anywhere. And neither has the joy and power of recognizing the value of everyone on your team. These are both essential elements of our culture at KEHOE DESIGNS. In honor of Pride Month — we’ve wrangled a handful of employees to boost morale and support the LGBTQ community in a Q&A.

Join us as we celebrate PRIDE Month and those who make an impact.

KEHOE DESIGNS, Pride, Pride Month, LGBTQ, Chicago, Diversity, Inclusion, Events, Workplace

Matthew Lahey | Event Producer at KEHOE DESIGNS

What does Pride mean to you? Has it changed any after having gone through all the challenges of 2020? To me, Pride means be authentic to who you are and loving yourself and others for who they are, without question. 

What are you excited to do in Chicago this Pride Month, now that the city is opening again? Are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending this month that feel especially meaningful or important in celebrating your identity? I definitely plan to participate in the street festivals, Pride in Millennium Park, and gay art shows. It’s incredibly meaningful to be surrounded by people you share something in common with and seeing them thrive and express themselves in a way that I can relate to. 

What’s a meaningful way people can support the LGBTQ community? You can support the LGBTQ community, of course, by donating your time or money to gay nonprofit organizations but also with your everyday support and allyship. 

What would be some key elements you would want to include if you were to throw an epic Pride party this year? The gay essentials, of course – glitter, rainbows, and a fabulous drag queen! 

Lastly, do you have a favorite Pride song or queer anthem? Several come to mind, but “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga will always be my go-to Pride bop!

Pride, Pride Month, Chicago, Diversity, Inclusion, Events, Mal Marcus, Mathew Lahey, Event Producer, Designer

Mal Marcus | Senior Event Producer at KEHOE DESIGNS

What does Pride mean to you? Has it changed any after having gone through all the challenges of 2020? To me, Pride is not just being proud of who I am but being proud of the people I surround myself with and embracing them for exactly the person they are. I am very thankful that I surround myself with people who uplift & support me, and I hope to do the same for my loved ones. 

What are you excited to do in Chicago this Pride Month, now that the city is opening again? Are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending this month that feel especially meaningful or important in celebrating your identity? SO excited that the city is opening again! I always love attending Market Days — they always have the best live music! Embracing the arts & culture of the LGBTQ community is very important to me.

What’s a meaningful way people can support the LGBTQ community? Attending Pride Month activities & festivals, really anything that my LGBTQ family & friends would want me to attend, I am there! I want them to feel they are accepted, HEARD, loved, and supported. 

What would be some key elements you would want to include if you were to throw an epic Pride party this year? Pride Month is all about being YOURSELF and embracing who you are without fear of judgment. Thus, I think adding elements to your party that really speak to you. Whether it is colorful patterns, sparkling backdrops, fur rugs, funky centerpieces, etc., is what Pride Month is all about. A fun photo op backdrop with an inspirational LGBTQ-forward quote so that your guests can post photos as a way to support on social media would be great as well!

Lastly, do you have a favorite Pride song or queer anthem? “Born This Way!” 😊

Jonathan Zani | Sales Manager at BlackOak Technical Productions

What does Pride mean to you? Has it changed any after having gone through all the challenges of 2020? Something that really resonated with me was the phrase, “Pride is important because someone still believes they are better off dead than being gay.” I remember when I first came to Chicago Gay Pride in 2010 before I had moved here. I was awestruck that so many others like me and their allies would come to celebrate the hardships of those who fought so hard for us even to be visible. Growing up, I spent so many years struggling internally and alone with my sexuality. Pride (especially Chicago Pride) will always be when I felt like I was part of a larger community. As we’ve all gone through this past year of loss, I think the lens has shifted to a wider view of how we can — once again — band together to support each other during hardships.

Something unique to our community is our experience with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The stories of how the LGBTQ+ community came together to support each other during the AIDS epidemic especially resonated with me during this time. In 2020, I think Pride this year is more about the fact that we have always found strength in our differences and, because of it, we’ve been able to overcome challenges that may seem insurmountable to most.

What are you excited to do in Chicago this Pride Month, now that the city is opening again? Are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending this month that feel especially meaningful or important in celebrating your identity? I’m especially excited about Pride in the Park and supporting the drag scene in Chicago. Attending any events that are de-centralized to the North Halsted area is exciting to me. I think it’s a sign that we are visible and express ourselves openly in the city that we love.

What’s a meaningful way people can support the LGBTQ community? There are plenty of opportunities through Howard Brown, supporting LGBTQ businesses around the city and celebrating this month and year-round with those closest to you. Ask about their stories. Actively stand up against any homophobia, casual or otherwise, that you may encounter in your day-to-day. 

What would be some key elements you would want to include if you were to throw an epic Pride party this year? A curated playlist is KEY. I’m currently feeling a Disco Revival where old hits and newer pop disco hits are featured. To accommodate the theme, an oversized disco ball in an unusual shape, a moon, a shark, anything that lends itself to the word PARTY. 

Lastly, do you have a favorite Pride song or queer anthem? “I Want To Break Free” by Queen or “Dancing On My” own by Robyn.

Pride, Pride Month, LGBTQ, Chicago, Diversity, Inclusion, Events, BlackOak Technical Productions, Joey Berman, Jonathan Zani, Sales Manager, Event Producer, Designer

Joey Alissa Berman | Senior Event Producer at KEHOE DESIGNS

What does Pride mean to you? Has it changed any after having gone through all the challenges of 2020? To me, Pride is about accepting all others with dignity, integrity, joy, courage without fear of being judged, and above all, leading with love. After the trauma of 2020, I think everyone realized just how precious and short this life we have truly is. It’s so important to live life to the fullest. 

What are you excited to do in Chicago this Pride Month, now that the city is opening again? Are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending this month that feel especially meaningful or important in celebrating your identity? Gene & Georgetti hosted a Pride Brunch on June 27th, and you bet your ass I was there! Not only am I able to celebrate Pride, but I’m also able to support a small business of industry friends who made it through this past year! 

What’s a meaningful way people can support the LGBTQ community? Remain open, kind, loving, and educate yourself! I am honored to work for an LGBTQ-owned business that supports organizations throughout the city. KEHOE DESIGNS and our family of brands continuously give back to the community through events with the Center on Halsted, Equality Illinois, World of Chocolate and AIDS Foundation.

What would be some key elements you would want to include if you were to throw an epic Pride party this year? A packed dancefloor, rainbow everything, and LOTS of sequins! 😊

Lastly, do you have a favorite Pride song or queer anthem? I cannot pick just one — music is life!

    • Robin S, “Show Me Love”
    • The Weather Girls, “It’s Raining Men” 
    • Whitney Houston, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Cyndi Roppolo Rosenberg | Director New Business Development at KEHOE DESIGNS

What does Pride mean to you? Has it changed any after having gone through all the challenges of 2020? To me, Pride means being authentic, proud of who you are, and let your voice be heard! This past year has changed us for the better — we learned to appreciate the small things like a smile, hug, and human interaction. We also saw so many people who have suffered so much but continued to spread their word and their voices for the better. 

What are you excited to do in Chicago this Pride Month, now that the city is opening again? Are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending this month that feel especially meaningful or important in celebrating your identity? So excited to see the city return, and what better way than to celebrate at Navy Pier Pride. They hosted family-friendly festivities in honor of the LGBTQ+ community. The event included storytime with Drag Queens, live performances, special film presentations, and a new “Queer the Pier” fashion and music show headlined by Cece Pinestone. 

What’s a meaningful way people can support the LGBTQ community? The best way to support the LGBTQ community is to call KEHOE DESIGNS a solely owned LGBTQ event production company. Let our team help bring the fun back into the SUN! 😊 I’m proud to work for a man who supports not only his staff but so many organizations: Howard Brown Health Center, Center on Halsted, Human Equality Gala. I’m most proud that I work in an environment that fosters a safe place to be who you are without judgment. Be authentic, kind, and yourself! 

Pride, Pride Month, LGBTQ, Chicago, Diversity, Inclusion, Events, Cyndi Roppolo Rosenberg, Tom Kehoe, Event Designer, CEO, Founder

What would be some key elements you would want to include if you were to throw an epic Pride party this year? Every epic party needs an element of KEHOE DESIGNS! But seriously, the key to an epic party is a great cocktail menu, packed dancefloor, rocking playlist, and of course, cool décor! 

Lastly, do you have a favorite Pride song or queer anthem?

    • Donna Summer “I feel love.” 
    • Erasure “A Little Respect” 
    • Robyn “Dancing on my Own” = favorite! 😊

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