June is Pride Month. It is a time to remember the movements and celebrate the achievements toward social justice for our LGBTQ colleagues. We at the American Institute of Architects – Virginia must join that memorialization and celebration. Movements are often born out of struggle, riot, and revolution. Pride month commemorates the struggle for freedom and justice denied a segment of our population whose history includes the Stonewall riots, as well as demonstrations in large cities across the country. Today, there are still efforts to restrict bathroom use, politicize scholastic sports, determine who has equal access to health care and upend marriage equality.

Robert Easter, FAIA

When I was president of NOMA, the AIA held its first Diversity Conference. Organizations representing architects and designers of color, and women, including those who were gay and lesbian were invited by Jean Barber, the AIA’s Director for Diversity to plan a three-day conference focused on the issues impacting the many and varied interests of these communities. That conference highlighted me. The fact that injustice and bigotry imposed on any one segment of our national family is injustice imposed on us all.

We’ve done little to distinguish ourselves as full proponents of equal justice for all; our personal biases and political affiliations often lead us to marginalize our colleagues for simply being themselves. My faith teaches me that all are created by an intelligent Being who created our diversity and who delights in our multiplicity. It was that Creator who first displayed a rainbow as a symbol of divine love for all of humankind.

Our nation was born out of a struggle for freedom. At the same time, it has prospered through division and subjugation. For people of color, people of various religious backgrounds, and people of differing sexual orientations, that struggle has been real and each community is often left to fight their battle alone. As we learn more about each other’s struggles, I hope that we also learn to work together to tear down the boundaries that restrict access to the opportunities that our profession offers.

Architecture has the tremendous potential to bring life-affirming change to communities. When we seek to understand those who live in the communities we are charged to impact, our design work can give a voice to the unheard, hope to the helpless, and understanding to those who feel unseen. Architecture can make a difference when architects choose to be catalysts for just change.

I hope that we will listen and open our hearts as our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer colleagues will help us define the parameters where we are truly advocates for justice. Every American is constitutionally guaranteed this protection and, every architect deserves no less.

Robert Easter, FAIA
AIA Virginia President