Brandon Black didn’t partake in Atlanta’s virtual Pride activities this year—but not because he isn’t an active member of the LGBT+ community. While he appreciates formal celebrations like Pride weekend and National Coming Out Day, Black would rather see people who don’t identify as queer advocating for gay rights on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s sad to me that topics like marriage equality are coming up again in 2020,” Black said.
Black, who earned his B.B.A. and master’s degrees in finance from Robinson in 2015 and 2017, works at The Coca-Cola Company as a manager of finance services. Coca-Cola regularly participates in Atlanta Pride weekend festivities. Black’s favorite was a Dasani sparkling water brand activation in 2018. Black and his colleagues wore t-shirts displaying multicolored bubbles as well as the slogan “Celebrate Flavor.” Pedestrians throughout Piedmont Park could not only sample Dasani sparkling water products but also snap photos with gender symbol props. They were encouraged to use the hashtag #drinkwithpride.
“A lot of straight-identifying coworkers attend those types of events,” Black said. “I feel the love and am proud to be a Coca-Cola employee.”
LGBT+ allies can demonstrate solidarity through involvement in official events like Atlanta Pride, but Instagram images only go so far. Black says it’s more important for allies to speak up every day.
Here’s an example. On an American Airlines flight last month, Black felt uncomfortable when the two other passengers in his row failed to wear masks. Though Black discreetly asked the flight attendant to seat him elsewhere, the woman next to him eavesdropped and responded loudly with offensive gay slurs. No one on the flight stood up for Black.
“Showing up in those places matters,” Black said. “That’s what people should be doing if they say they care about equality.”