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COMMUNITY · June 29th, 2021

LGBTQ+ Pride: The Power of Community 

Diversity drives innovation. The unique experiences we live as individuals ultimately inspire creativity, ideas, and challenge us all to think differently about how we care for animals, clients, and each other. That’s why NVA works toward building a community that represents all perspectives and backgrounds – including LGBTQ+ professionals. Recently, three of our colleagues shared their stories about the importance of community in driving change and creating a sense of belonging. Here are some of the highlights.

ASHLEY BYRD (she, her, hers)
General Manager at The Pet Spot in Cincinnati, Ohio 

For Ashley Byrd, General Manager at The Pet Spot, feeling supported, welcomed, and valued is crucial. “It’s important to be reminded that being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community is to be celebrated, cherished, and is, in general, a positive attribute,” says Ashley. “I enjoy being able to be my authentic self with people that support me for who I am.” 

When asked about coming out, Ashley sites community as being important, especially for those not accepted by their biological family. “There are so many people willing to be your chosen family which brings enormous support and comfort in an anxious and unsure time. Read more of Ashley’s interview here.

JUSTIN MATHIS, DVM (he, him, his)
Medical Director at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists in Longmont, Colorado

Dr. Justin Mathis, Medical Director at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, also underscored the importance of community, particularly organizations that support LGBTQ+ veterinarians. “As with many professions, the veterinary profession continues to possess a smattering of stigmas,” says Justin. He encourages veterinary professionals to join pride organizations and help other individuals in this field embrace themselves as well as others. “Overall, we are a highly empathetic and compassionate profession, and we should afford this empathy and compassion to ourselves as well.” Read more of Dr. Mathis’ interview here.

JEREMY ROGERS (he, him, his)
Client Care Coordinator at Nashville Veterinary Specialists in Nashville, Tennessee

Jeremy Rogers, Client Care Coordinator at Nashville Veterinary Specialists, says a supportive community helps create a sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ individuals, and drives change and understanding in society. “It is important as a marginalized group to come together and celebrate our success and triumphs with those who understand our professional and personal lives. I also feel with numbers comes change.”

Growing up, one of Jeremy’s biggest struggles was accepting himself. Community and family helped him through that. “My first Pride event helped me accept my sexuality and feel a part of something so much bigger.” He says he was also lucky that his parents were so open to him being gay. “They both hugged me and told me they accepted me for who I was,” says Jeremy. “I am beyond blessed.” Read more of Jeremy’s interview here.

DANIELLE DeLAPP (she, her, hers)
Senior Recruiting Programs Specialist, NVA Support Center

Danielle DeLapp, who specializes in recruiting veterinary professionals, stresses the importance of being proud and celebrating Pride. “I moved to New York just in time for World Pride in the city in 2019 and I was so, so elated to be there,” says Danielle. “Some people would say that Pride events aren’t overly important to making society more accepting, but I think they’re the perfect event to help someone see what a beautiful community this is (and also how much we all love glitter)!” Read more of Danielle’s interview here.

At NVA, we’re proud to share and celebrate these experiences. They help elevate our entire community. You can view the complete interviews on PrideVMC’s Instagram page here.

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