by Loren Edelstein | July 15, 2025
This is an unusual Pride Month, agreed Jim Clapes, events manager for the Specialty Food Association and chair of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association. The rainbow flag that celebrates freedom of sexual expression has perhaps been overshadowed for much of the month by Black Lives Matter flags, signs and banners seen at protests throughout the U.S. and many parts of the world. The pandemic has prevented Gay Pride parades this year, limiting public celebration of the cause.

Yet the Pride movement achieved an historic victory on June 15, with the Supreme Court ruling that people who identify as LGBT+ are protected from job discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

While celebrating this victory, Clapes stressed the importance of the fight for equal rights by all oppressed groups. For the meetings and travel business, this is a difficult and important time to assess our progress with diversity and inclusion. And, Clapes added, there's work to be done. We spoke with Clapes for an episode of Eventful: The Podcast for Meeting Professionals. Following are highlights from that conversation.

This is an unusual year for Pride Month. How are you feeling about current events and their impact on the meetings industry?
I'm appreciative that you're talking about these issues and specifically highlighting what's happening in the world, which is both inspiring and also a bit devastating for all of us. It has been a very, very challenging few months and it's going to continue to be a challenging time in the meetings and events industry.

We really have to do better as a community and as an industry. I think about everything that's happening with the Black Lives Matter movement and there's this weird kind of dichotomy -- because it's very inspiring to me, but it's also just maddening that we're even having to discuss these things in 2020. It just seems like we should be so far beyond this, but the reality is we're not.

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