by Cathy Repola
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and this weekend will bring the World Pride Parade in New York City.
I will proudly march with members of Local 700, alongside a full contingent of IATSE members from the vast number of crafts within the union. In Los Angeles earlier this month, members of Local 700 marched alongside other IA members, for the first time under the Guild banner in any gay pride parade.
These monumental steps have come about because of IA members willing to stand up for a cause with great meaning to many of our members.
Every evolution of social justice begins with a few brave people who are willing to step up and put their own livelihoods aside for the sake of the greater cause. I was a child when the Stonewall Riots took place in Greenwich Village. These actions were a pivotal part of the history of this country, and yet I don’t recall any coverage of these events in our schools’ U.S. history books. Back then, the words “gay” and “lesbian” were hardly uttered, even by those who identified as such. There was an innate amount of shame associated with being in the gay community.
Fast forward 50 years and wow, how things have changed.
Growing Up Union
I grew up in the IATSE and have attended IA district meetings, General Executive board meetings and conventions, and until recently, LGBTQ issues were not on the agenda. This changed because of some brave men and women within IA.
In June of 2017, our Guild formed the LGBTQ steering committee. It has brought together our members who previously had no sense of what it meant to identify as a member of both of these communities at once. This has been meaningful on a deep level to so many people.
A union, in my opinion, has an obligation to assure that members of all races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations are not subject to any form of discrimination — and furthermore, are provided a workplace that embraces all of our differences.
I think we should be a leader in this.
One of the many good things the IATSE has done for the membership is the creation of the IATSE Pride Committee, which happened in March. Please take the time to read the mission statement and to sign up for the committee’s communications, email blasts and more.
Those IATSE members who so bravely stepped up and stepped forward, so the IA would see the wisdom and the need for creating the Committee, will forever impact the lives of current and future generations of IA members. Those future generations won’t know who they even were, but will be indebted to them in ways they may never recognize. They are an inspiration and it is a complete honor and privilege to stand beside them and to march alongside them.
As a leader of only one of the two national locals in the IA, I am a proud member of this community. On a personal and professional level, I am grateful to all of those who had the courage to stand up and take this much-needed step for our union.
Cathy Repola is National Executive Director of Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700.