Family Pride

Like many Americans, President Barack Obama's recent remarks about our country as "a place of inclusiveness where we value our boisterous diversity as a great gift" resonated with me. If you frequent the Children's Museum of Manhattan or other children's museums, you will recognize the aptness of "boisterous" and "diversity" to describe the exuberance in our exhibitions, classrooms and art-making spaces.

The Children's Museum of Manhattan will be full of joyful noise and activity later this month as we celebrate our 10th Annual LGBTQ Pride Night. It will be rocking with the energy of children and parents, exploring, playing, and learning. That's what families do when they spend time together where they feel wanted and at ease.

Thankfully, hosting a Pride event at a family venue today, especially after the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage, is in many ways no big deal. But as recently as 10 years ago, it still was. Or, rather it wasn't on many people's radar.

We have worked hard to be inclusive. Over 10 years ago we were developing a project to increase museum access for economically disadvantaged communities. Our public programs supervisor at the time, David Rios, approached me, suggesting if we were truly committed to serving all of New York City's families we needed to reach out to the LGBT community too. He was right.

David, himself a gay man, is now our Director of Public Programs. On Monday, he shared his heartbreak around the Orlando shooting, "For many of us these clubs, like Pulse, are a safe haven and spaces of transformation and identity construction -- where we can find ourselves outside of repression and oppression. They were a big part of my path for sure. This is why I wanted to start Pride Night at the museum -- to make a point, to say we are truly a space for all families and to make their visibility very much a part of the everyday landscape." I am so grateful to David for approaching me about this over a decade ago.

While there were struggles getting things started, the Children's Museum is privileged to have a Board of Directors and staff who are committed to this work. Goldman Sachs, through its Community TeamWorks initiative, has also been an early and generous funder of our Pride celebration.

Serving New York's myriad families is a privilege and a delight. Inclusiveness is an intrinsic part of the Children's Museum. Today, we offer an extraordinary range of cultural festivals where families can participate in performances, workshops, cooking demonstrations, storytelling experiences, and/or hands-on art activities to make connections between their own experiences and those of other cultures. Earlier this year, we opened a first-of-its kind exhibit for families, America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far, part of our cultural exhibitions series which has included exhibitions on the cultures of Ancient Greece, China and Japan. Many of our guests eagerly join us for holidays or commemorative events they may not even celebrate at home.

Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas or Memorial Day, bringing families together to celebrate benefits everyone. We all deserve places where we are welcome and safe, even if it is just to rock out to joyful noise.