Happy Pride Month!
While 2019 marks BASI's 30th Anniversary, it is also another major anniversary—50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York, one of the most significant events in the history of the gay liberation movement and the catalyst for annual pride marches worldwide.
A quick history lesson: On June 28, 1969 NYPD police raided Stonewall, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, with the intent to arrest males dressed in women's clothing, and females who were not wearing the minimum required feminine garments. Every patron in the bar had to stand in line to have their ID checked, and those dressed as women were taken into the restroom by female officers to have their sex verified. Police raids on gay bars were a frequent occurrence during this time, and rising tensions between police and the gay community made this particular raid ripe for rebellion. Men in line refused to show their IDs, cross-dressers and transgender customers refused to go with police, and many fought back against police detainment. Eventually the entire crowd—those who were at Stonewall that night, and those who had gathered outside to see what all the commotion was about—were rioting against the police. NYPD reinforements arrived and even more violence ensued. The riots continued for 6 nights, finally settling with a new, fierce energy in the gay community that fueled the impending gay liberation movement and activism for years following. The first gay pride march was held one year later to commemorate the Stonewall riots, and pride parades have been held annually ever since.
In the spirit of Pride Month, BASI would like to wish everyone attending Pride events a safe and positive experience. Since the beginning BASI has championed diversity, inclusivity, and respect in our values, and we are so proud to support the LGBTQ community. As we look back on our 30 years as a company, we can clearly see the trajectory of BASI starting out as being about "the moves," to now becoming a full-on movement. Our mission is to create a better world with Pilates as the vehicle, making a positive impact one person at a time. BASI is a safe space where individuals can feel free to be themselves and feel at home within our walls. In his recent speech at BASI Learn From The Leaders 2019, BASI founder, Rael Isacowitz said, "In a world with far, far too much suffering, BASI is a beacon of light. BASI is a safe haven for all, no matter who you are, where you are from. BASI is warmth. BASI is compassion. BASI is love . . . BASI is for everyone, every religion, every culture, that is what BASI is."
We reached out to one of our BASI graduates, who wishes to remain anonymous, to get their thoughts on the following questions:
As a whole, do you find the Pilates community to be inclusive and supportive of the LGBTQ community?
For a very long time I didn't. And I still think we can do better. Many in the Pilates community are supportive and inclusive, but I can only think of a very small amount of individuals and organizations who have made it apparent that they are allies to the LGBTQ community. So, it's not that I don't think the Pilates community is exclusive or unsupportive, but I think we could have more representation, open communication, more awareness and support for all LGBTQ who are part of our Pilates community.
In your experience, how has BASI demonstrated inclusivity?
BASI Pilates by far has been one of my most favorite Pilates communities to be a part of. Looking at BASI from an outside perspective, I thought they were a community full of dancers, but realized they are much more than that--Rael specifically. I'll never forget one of the many conversations I had with him during my comprehensive training where he said to me, "You know why I like you, because you are open. You are willing to learn and grow and accepted these challenges with no judgement and an open mind." By Rael saying that to me made me realize, he himself was an open individual. Yes he created this amazing program and has very specific ways of performing and teaching exercises, but he never wants anyone to change who they are individually. He loves diversity and wants all of his students to represent who they are as individuals. In the last few months I've really been able to dive into the BASI culture and I truly love being part of such a unique, diverse, and family-like environment.
Do you feel there is adequate representation of LGBTQ folx in the Pilates community? If not, what do you think the reasoning is?
I personally know a lot of fam in the Pilates community. Is everyone out and about and speaking about their gender identity and sexuality, no. And I think that is totally okay. There are a lot of people in the LGBTQ community who don't feel the need to lead with those details about their life. For a lot of us, being in this community is just a part of who we are, not all of who we are or what identifies us. I teach Pilates. That is a part of me, but it is not the only thing about me. However, gender identity and sexual preferences are a very personal experience and I think for some, there is always a fear of acceptance and safety. If the Pilates community made it more apparent that they love everyone for who they are, it could very well help others feel safe and supported.
In the spirit of Pride Month, what are you most proud of as of 2019?
Though there are still many things the LGBTQ community is fighting for, it's nice to see progress. With everything going on in our world, the LGBTQ community constantly fights to stay connected with each other, support each other, and protect each other. I am proud to be part of a community who constantly fights for what they believe and want and continues to care and respect and protect their fam. A community who outwardly offers help and support for those struggling with their sexuality and identity. And a community who is SO proud to represent their individuality, diversity, and fierceness.
Do you have any other thoughts or anything else you'd like to add related to Pilates, Pride Month, and/or the LGBTQ community?
In general, I think everyone in every community, every individual, can agree that at the end of the day they just want to feel loved. They want support, safety, and acceptance for who they are. They want to live their life freely, without judgement, and with ease. People are different, and that's one of the greatest things about us—diversity. You do not have to like everyone, you do not need to befriend everyone, but there is no reason to ever disrespect someone. The common phrase, "Treat others the way you want to be treated," is one of the strongest things I believe. And if people would take the time to recognize what that truly means, I believe that we could all be better individuals.