As two of the organizers, we had such a great time last year walking with EA’s first-ever contingent in the San Francisco Pride Parade, we were ready and eager to get out there again this year. After a few months of planning (with a great group of dedicated and generous people – thanks all!), t-shirts ordered, fun giveaways for the crowd ready and Sims Plumbob headbands attached, we were ready to get a big EA crowd into San Francisco and have more fun. What we didn’t know while pulling this year’s event together was what an amazing and historic week it would actually turn out to be. When the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and effectively struck down Prop 8, paving the way for same-sex marriage to get back underway in California, the energy and excitement for this year’s Pride reached a crescendo.
Given all the high-profile things EA has done this past year to support the LGBT community, and with the recent court and marriage victories in a number of states, people joined us from all around the company. With them, our friends and our consumers came out and brought our contingent for this year’s San Francisco parade to over 120 people. Wearing our EA Pride t-shirts (many cut and styled individually), our best rainbow attire and costumes – we even had one participant come in full Mass Effect armor as Commander Shepard! – we had our giant EA-branded bus follow us down the parade route, blaring out a great soundtrack. Peter Moore, our COO, brought some class to the goings-on, led the EA contingent in a few cheers and rocked an awesomely custom-tailored t-shirt!
One of the fun things you don’t see about the SF Pride Parade is what happens before the activity starts. All of the parade participants line up, up and down the side streets of downtown, waiting for their turn to walk. Since we had time to kill behind the scenes, it gave us a chance to socialize not only with each other but also with other groups around us in the parade route. With our music blaring, everyone was dancing and having a good time, even before we hit Market Street.
Walking down the route this year, you could really feel the happiness and excitement emanating in waves from the crowd of 1.2 million charged-up people. And this is a crowd that really appreciates the efforts EA is making to bring a bigger, more inclusive community to the gaming experience and really recognizes us for leading the dialog about diversity in gaming and for having same-gender character customization in some of our games.
It was great to walk again in this year’s parade in San Francisco – this city really knows how to celebrate Pride and diversity and bring people together from all walks of life! Personally [this is Brian], this year was especially meaningful to me. While my partner and I were finally able to marry in 2008, until this last week the Federal government didn’t recognize our marriage. We’ve been together for 21 years, but it’s just this last week in which we are entitled to the approximately 1,100 benefits available to opposite-gender couples from the day they get married. More importantly, the Federal government has now recognized that every married person should be treated with the same dignity and respect. For me, my EA peeps have always been unhesitatingly supportive of me and my spouse, and have always allowed and encouraged me to be exactly who I am. My team has celebrated a lot of our life milestones with us, even throwing us a wedding shower after our impromptu wedding in 2008. Within our EA walls, I’ve always felt equal and I’ve always felt supported. Along with historic events and my marriage, that was what I was celebrating with our crowd this last weekend.
-- Written by EA Employees Brian Hupp and Steve Cattich
All dressed up and ready to walk!
The EA team, including COO Peter Moore, cheer and wave to the crowd during the parade.
Steve Cattich walks arm in arm with a colleague during the San Francisco Pride Parade.
Brian Hupp shows off his Pride and gets ready to walk the parade route.