My hope for Pride Month.

Seth Stevens, Chief Designer, Decorative Products, Kohler, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

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Pride Month, in all its glory, has arrived once more. Celebrating four days of infamy in New York City fifty years ago, when the gay pride movement began, when men and women rose up and said, “Enough!” I will be forever grateful to those who walked before me and fought so hard to make the world an easier place today for LGBTQ rights. I will never underestimate their sacrifice nor take my freedom for granted. 

But with this inherited privilege comes the weight of sometimes being identified first for my sexual orientation rather than my professional and personal success.

I graduated top of my class from the competitive industrial design program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The rungs of the corporate ladder are very familiar from my experience with high-end global brands in multiple industries. I’ve had my own design-consulting company—with Martha Stewart as my first client.  A handbag I designed for my men’s personal furnishings company was featured in Vogue. I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate. I love what I do and how I got here.

But in spite of my success, I still feel the need to present myself in a certain way—as though I’m an ambassador for the entire gay community, and it is my responsibility to dispel any negative stereotypes. 

So, yes, I’m proud to have the same civil rights as most. I’m proud to be married to my wonderful husband. And I’m proud of the dedication of those who came before. But I still hope for a time when we don’t need a special month for Pride. When we can all be recognized and celebrated for our creativity, our successes both big and small, our determination, as well as our community. When being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or any other sexuality is not something “separate.” When we’re not a diversity initiative. When our sexuality isn’t even a question or a thought.

I’m hopeful. We’ll get there. We got here.

Your Kohler story begins here.