June is Pride Month, and my clients, Paul and Elaine, asked me to come support Paul’s company drag competition for charity. My response? What time should I be there and should I make a video about it?
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From a Piedmont native, Emmy award-winning television journalist-turned-home matchmaker, part-time radio anchor, UCLA graduate, wife and mother of 3.
Paul works for Oakland-based Harmless Harvest, a maker of ethically sourced and produced coconut water. This year the company decided to take a slightly less conventional approach to show their support. The local company hosted their first employee drag competition to raise money for LGBTQIA+ charities. Drag’s roots run deep in the LGBTQIA+ community as a way to express yourself and push the boundaries of what is accepted.
Andrew Becker is the VP of People and Environment of Harmless Harvest and came up with the idea for this competition. He says the idea of not conforming to gender stereotypes and expressing yourself however you want has so much overlap when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community, the competition was the perfect company event to celebtate Pride Month.
Putting yourself out there
Becker says when he shared his idea, his co-workers were very supportive. Everyone wanted to participate and get involved. Some people felt nervous or didn’t know much about drag when they signed up. But Becker feels it speaks to the inclusive culture at Harmless Harvest. They show up and support others. “Putting yourself out there and being uncomfortable for charity is super noble,” says Becker. He applauds all the employees who participated.
Raised more than $10,000 for charity
The competition raised money for Pride Month in two ways. Through ticket sales and personal go fund me accounts. Everyone participating could share their personal go fund me with friends, family and on social media. The participants raised more than $5,000, which harmless harvest matched. The $10,000 total will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice.
This year’s winner (Mic Drop) chose The Jasmyn Foundation based out of Florida. Becker says it has done great work for years, but right now they are focused on acting against the ‘Don’t say gay’ bill put into law recently.
Becker said the event was a huge success and he couldn’t have asked for it to go better. He says one of the best parts of the event were the conversations that came out of it because they created a safe space. “It’s so important for the conversations to happen,” said Becker. “We had people say I’m doing this to show my kids what acceptance really looks like, that you don’t have to fit norms.” Some people asked questions about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. Things that would not have happened if they did not make that safe space for open and honest conversation.
I attended the event and can tell you first hand it was amazing and I had such a good time. Don’t worry if you missed it, there will be another one next year!