June marks the annual celebration of Pride in our country and our community, and I wanted to share some thoughts on what this time means to me and how it aligns with the values that we at Cowgirl—LGBTQ+ founded and led—believe in.
Fifty-two years ago, the Stonewall Inn in downtown Manhattan became more than a local safe haven for those seeking refuge and community—it became a symbol for the fight against oppression, for freedom and for doing what’s right.
Twenty-four years ago, our founders Peg and Sue, themselves a part of the LGBTQ+ community, sought to create a company that would celebrate overlooked communities—for them, their flag was planted firmly in the underserved agricultural communities that were at risk of disappearance.
Eleven years ago, I was a young store manager in charge of the Murray’s Cheese flagship shop in downtown Manhattan, just around the corner from Stonewall. It was my first Pride as an active participant, rather than an enthusiastic ally—I had just begun my own first queer relationship, thanks to cheese, and I was in the messy, rather nebulous process of coming out.
The cheese community has long had strong LGBTQ+ representation—though, it’s worth noting that while we are proud and inclusive on this front, we have a long way to go in improving diversity and equity in other areas—namely, race. That being said, from the legacies of pioneers like Cowgirl’s own Peg and Sue to a current cohort that has evolved to a modern, cross-sectional community, the queerness of cheese is evident. There are articles about social media groups (“LGBrieTQ”). There are panels at our annual American Cheese Society industry conference. We gripe, in this intersectional cheese/LGBTQ+ community, that the annual summer Fancy Food Show and all of its associated industry events overlaps, inconveniently, with New York’s extensive Pride events—how could we be asked to choose between our communities?!-- but that’s a conversation for another day.
This month, I’m thinking about the nature of Pride as a celebration—though, lest we forget, what we now celebrate as Pride began as a riot, trans women of color who stood their ground behind the broken glass and barricades of Stonewall. I’m thinking about inclusivity, which we work hard to improve every day at Cowgirl, celebrating all of our people and our communities. And I’m thinking about integrity, and heart, values that we strive to uphold in our daily work and that I am always reminded of when I think of the struggles to do what’s right, the fight to act for the greater good that got us to a month of celebration. For that, I am proud.
- Amanda Parker, Cowgirl Creamery Managing Director