Pride 2020: Celebration and service

Credit unions highlight importance of "open dialogue 12 months a year."

July 1, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have changed what Pride Month celebrations looked like in 2020, but credit unions adapted to the need for social distancing with virtual events, support initiatives, and reminders of their dedication to serving the LGBTQ community.

"What's important is having an open dialogue 12 months a year," says Chris Cain, chief experience officer at $115 million asset Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, N.Y.

Highlights of 2020 Pride Month include:

  • Focusing on community partnerships and empowerment programs. Alternatives Federal hosted a series of workshops and virtual webinars about its TransAction Financial Empowerment Program. The program provides access to funds to support gender affirmation, such as hormone therapy, vocal coaching, new wardrobes, legal documentation updates, and surgeries/procedures without the risks of high-interest credit or predatory lenders. “People were coming to us to finance their transition surgeries,” Cain says. “So they took our financial counseling to save for surgery. The program kind of built itself.”
  • Promoting visibility, inclusivity, and consciousness. The CU Pride organization focuses on the LGBTQ community within the credit union movement. The group held its inaugural meeting in February during the 2020 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. “The LGBTQ community is spread throughout every facet of life,” says Linda Bodie, CEO at $55 million asset Element Federal Credit Union in Charleston, W.V., and one of the four founding members of CU Pride. “The credit union community has these individuals working for, advocating for, and being members of credit unions.”
  • Strengthening community partnerships. Chris Cain of Alternatives Federal joined the CUNA News Podcast to discuss financial empowerment, serving disenfranchised communities, community outreach, and more. "We're focusing on collaboration and education within the community," she says.
  • Connecting virtually. Nearly 200 credit union leaders and friends attended CU Pride's virtual event, which featured conversations about LGBTQ issues, Pride-related video messages from credit union people, a discussion of and support for Juneteenth and Black Lives Matter, entertainment, and more. “We need to amplify the voices of the unheard and underheard,” says Sam Jensen, training consultant at $1.2 billion asset Blue Federal Credit Union, Cheyenne, Wy. “We need to step up and say queer employees, members, and communities matter to us.”
  • Finding the "secret sauce." Linda Bodie of Element Federal joined the CUNA News Podcast to share how the little things can make a difference when serving LGBTQ members. “That’s just another part of the secret sauce to your credit union,” says Bodie. “Make sure your members know that you care about them and that they’re treated with respect.”
  • Recognizing #Pride on Twitter. Credit unions and system partners tweeted messages of support and celebration during the month of June. They shared stories from employees, hosted Pride-themed contests, and more. "Our philosophy of #TexansHelpingTexans is inclusive and rooted in compassion for all people—regardless of gender, identity, or orientation," tweeted $1.6 billion Texans Credit Union in Richardson, Texas. "We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ employees, members, and Texans."