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Pride Month 2022 - Introducing the Protolabs Network Drag Race

For Pride Month 2022, Protolabs Network is raising awareness of educational and charitable initiatives to support LGBTQIA+ people all over the world with the first ever Protolabs Network Drag Race event. Learn more about how Protolabs Network strives to be an ally and create safe spaces and elevated platforms to speak out.

Written by Isaac Simon

Pride Month is a time to come together and celebrate the progress that's been made for LGBTQIA+ rights and raise awareness of the work that still needs to be done.

Celebrated every year in June—this was the month of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in the US—Pride is about equality and equity, highlighting the achievements of LGBTQIA+ people, supporting educational and charitable initiatives, fostering communities and addressing problems that still unfortunately persist today.

At Protolabs Network, Pride is immensely important, and this year we wanted to give our community opportunities to learn more, create safer spaces and elevated platforms for speaking out and celebrate Pride with an outpouring of joy.

Check out this incredibly moving video from Protolabs Network's LGBTQIA+ workgroup and network, Proud Protolabs Network:

What do Pride and allyship mean to Protolabs Network?

For us, Pride Month is a time to examine what we stand for and how we can be the best representative of and allies to the queer community as possible. It’s essential to check in and ask important questions. Are we actively listening to and representing our community? Are we learning how to do better and then sharing that insight? Are we creating the right opportunities and a safe space to pursue them?

Championing this community and being representative and supportive allies means daring to ask questions, educating ourselves on how to support LGBTQIA+ experiences and creating the best opportunities and tools for everyone. It means standing up for our people, even when (especially when) they’re not in the room. 

It not only means speaking out but building a robust platform for those who want to speak out. Building a community where everyone feels free to be themselves is a commitment we take seriously. As one of our we says, “the fight is never over.”

Being part of this movement also means creating opportunities for celebration. Everyone at Protolabs Network should always feel free and safe to be their authentic selves, and be able to express themselves openly and confidently. That’s why our program for Pride 2022 is a bombastic mix of education and jubilant performance.

What are we doing for Pride Month 2022?

This year, we've developed an amazing program for our community that combines knowledge sharing with fun and joyful opportunities for artistic expression. We've invited incredible speakers to share their insights and stories and are holding Protolabs Network's first-ever Drag Race!

We’ve invited recognized drag performers from Amsterdam to teach us the basics of drag performance and the significance behind the art form. Five lucky we are even receiving a masterclass in performance and putting on a live show for our Amsterdam and Chicago offices.

The Protolabs Network Drag Race is not only a celebration of drag culture and its connection to Pride and the global LGBTIA+ community at large; it’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of other ways we can support LGBTQIA+ people around the world. A big part of the event involves raising funds for Rainbow Railroad, a not-for-profit organization that helps people facing persecution find safe havens and the right kinds of support.

What is Rainbow Railroad?

One of our partners for our Pride Month programming this year is Rainbow Railroad, a global not-for-profit organization that helps LGBTQI+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

In a time when there are more displaced people than ever before, LGTBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable to systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia. These factors either displace them in their own country or prevent them from escaping harm. As a result of Rainbow Railroad’s work, more LGBTQI+ individuals will be able to access lives free from persecution.

Since its founding, the organization has helped over 3,100 individuals find safety through emergency relocation and other forms of assistance. The organization expects to receive over 10,000 requests for support.

To donate to Rainbow Railroad, follow this link or use this QR code!

Who's speaking at Protolabs Network's Pride Month 2022 event?

Alongside the Drag Race and campaign to raise awareness and funds for Rainbow Railroad, we've invited two impactful speakers to share their stories.

Our first speaker is Robert Fennis. Robert is involved in an initiative spanning six municipalities in the Netherlands to promote and educate on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in sports. He talks about the importance of all teams in all sports being inclusive to every LGBTQIA+ member and how teams can facilitate this.

This initiative is backed by the Dutch Government, the National Dutch Soccer Society, The National Dutch Hockey Society and the Sports Alliance.

Our second speaker is Shevan van der Lugt, who is an LGBTQ activist and motivational speaker who spoke at Amnesty International and the European and Dutch parliaments. He has many stories to tell during his public speeches to motivate people.

Shevan studied English at Damascus University. He was arrested in 2011 for taking part in the peaceful demonstrations in Syria and fled to Lebanon after his release in 2012. Shevan registered at the UNHCR there, and a year later, was invited to the Netherlands. Now he lives in Utrecht.

How does Protolabs Network celebrate Pride all year round?

For us, the commitments we make during Pride Month extend throughout the entire year. We strive to be an open and safe workplace every single day of every single year. Though the work is never done, we've made many meaningful strides.

Alongside organizing talks and events during and outside Pride Month, we've set down internal guidelines to support our LGBTQIA+ we and built out policies that promote openness and allyship. We have trained counselors at the ready for confidential discussions, with even more robust opportunities to address mental health coming.

As pragmatic makers, we also find ways to collaborate to keep improving all these initiatives. One of our internal workgroups is even dedicated to all things LGBTQIA+ at Protolabs Network: we call it Proud Protolabs Network. Open to everyone, Proud Protolabs Network is a place to feel seen and represented, and a constant source of inspiration and action that contributes to Protolabs Network being a diverse, welcoming and supportive community.

We've also introduced gender-neutral bathrooms and are constantly looking for more on-the-ground changes we can make to custom-build the safest spaces possible.

We know this is just the start (it always feels that way, to an extent). There's more to be done, and we're ready to bring our full selves to the task. Happy Pride Month!