At Southwest Airlines we connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel. But did you know that we also connect our Customers and Employees to more beyond our airplanes? As part of our Community Outreach efforts, Southwest is proud to sponsor up-and-coming artists, especially those representing the LGBTQ+ and ally community.
I had the extreme honor, as a Southwest Employee from our Nashville (BNA) station, to attend The Concert for Love & Acceptancepresented by country music artist Ty Herndon and GLAAD in which Southwest was a headline sponsor. GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy group, and Southwest have been partners since 2011 and work closely together to support the LGBTQ+ Community.
The fifth annual concert included performances by artists Lee Brice, Anita Cochran, Daughtry, Billy Gilman, Harper Grae, Mickey Guyton, Angie K, Brett Kissel, Tayla Lynn, Brody Ray, Tyler Rich, Antigone Rising, Brandon Stansell, Chely Wright, Rita Wilson, Ty Herndon, and Hunter Hayes. CMT’s Cody Alan also emceed the evening, sharing his own story of coming out as a country music personality and how the concert has helped accelerate acceptance for members and artists in the LGBTQ+ community.
An Unforgettable Evening
I quickly saw that The Concert for Love & Acceptance was not the average Nashville concert. Artists were fighting back tears as they sang, cheering on up-and-coming artists as they took the stage for the first time, supporting each other with hugs and words of affirmation, and embracing the audience as a whole.
The evening was a safe space for artists and the audience who came together under the belief that music is a deeply personal and raw expression of emotion. Many artists who performed shared that during their darkest times, when it felt like they had nothing else, their music was there for them and got them through to the other side. Several of the artists who performed called the evening their favorite event of the year, citing the common connection of community, acceptance, and love for music.
For this particular event, Southwest was proud to provide air travel for the Rising Stars Grant recipients through our ongoing partnership with GLAAD. This grant is bestowed upon young persons and artists for their commitment to enhancing LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation in music. This year Jada Cato and Zoe Hoetzel were recognized for their work using music to change hearts and minds.
Being Visible, Being Proud
As an LGBTQ+ Employee attending The Concert for Love & Acceptance, this was a very personal and humbling experience for me. I came out at a very young age and for a long time felt like I was forging my own path, alone. To hear other members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community share similar experiences, adversities, and triumphs was affirming. I knew I wanted to work at Southwest because we were different—not in a bad way, but a good way.
Our commitment to treating each other, our Customers, and our communities with dignity, respect, and, above all, embracing The Golden Rule—to doing the right thing—makes us different. Diversity is a proud part of who we are as a Company, and we even have a Diversity and Inclusion statement that reinforces our commitment to supporting, nurturing, and growing a diverse workplace:
“We are committed to providing our Southwest Family a work environment where they can be themselves and be recognized for the unique perspectives they each bring forward. Diversity and Inclusion aren’t just buzzwords—they’re woven into the way we run our business, and they’re reflected in our world-famous Culture.”
At Southwest I am able to bring my whole self to work every day, and I’ve never felt more empowered to do so. I am proud to work for a Company that shows its Heart and commitment to supporting connection and acceptance. I look forward to attending The Concert for Love & Acceptance next year and helping further support the cause!