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  • Writer's pictureBeau Frail + Sarah Woynicz

“Pride by Design – Four Cities, One Purpose"

Blog.002 | Beau Frail + Sarah Woynicz

Three years ago, 2019, was a pivotal year for LGBTQIA+ architecture and design professionals, particularly those within the AIA. In Chicago, the first LGBTQIA+ Alliance was founded and held its first event in February. A few months later on the other side of the country, the AIA National Conference held in Las Vegas hosted a panel discussion, The Silent Minority: LGBTQ+ Voices in Architecture. Each year since then, local components in Austin, Boston, and Dallas have established their own respective LGBTQIA+ Alliance or network, continuing to bring community and visibility to LGBTQIA+ architects and design professionals. Cities and states such as Mississippi, Philadelphia, and Atlanta have hosted events highlighting and elevating LGBTQIA+ architects and designers. Organizations within the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, such as Build Out Alliance, are working towards advancing inclusivity and envisioning a brighter future "where LGBTQ professionals work openly with pride, and where everyone has access to equal opportunities and a diverse professional network.” And these only begin to name a few from all across the country. Over the next few weeks and blogs, Pride by Design will be interviewing and highlighting not only these organizations, but the people behind the leadership and formation of these communities. This week, initial and current leadership from four cities and LGBTQIA+ Alliances share their thoughts on visibility and on beginnings.

2019 | AIA Chicago LGBTQIA+ Alliance

Founded in 2019 as a part of AIA Chicago's Affinity Groups, the LGBTQIA+ Alliance is the first of its kind within the AIA. The Alliance is dedicated to advocating for the LGBTQIA+ Architects and Designers in the industry. They do this through a wide array of events focusing on education (Pride History Social), community building (LGBTQIA+ Reception at the A'22), philanthropy (socials supporting various local organizations), and advocacy. In AIA Chicago, they strive to provide opportunities to elevate the voices of a diverse group of LGBTQIA+ practitioners and to create space for initiatives that alliance members are passionate about.

2020 | AIA Austin LGBTQIA+ Alliance

AIA Austin LGBTQIA+ Alliance leadership - Tim Petersen, Joe Delia, Mikel Bennett, and Beau Frail - each echoed the role of visibility, connection, and community when speaking to the beginnings of the Alliance and the importance of continuing to provide space to come together. Formed in March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when so many were seeking connection and belonging, the AIA Austin LGBTQIA+ Alliance has grown to provide networking, panel discussions, and conference speaking opportunities, as well as advocating for how LGBTQ+ spaces are changing and being redeveloped at a citywide scale.

2020 | Boston Society of Architects LGBTQ Network

Chris Moyer shared that the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) LGBTQ Network began in April 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic moved engagements to virtual formats. The BSA LGBTQ Network has focused mainly on remote programming, including webinars about LGBTQ Senior Housing in Boston and building inclusive firm cultures. This summer, they began transitioning to in-person opportunities such as a Pride Walking Tour exploring Boston's queer and architectural history.

2021 | AIA Dallas LGBTQIA+ Alliance

The Dallas AIA LGBTQIA+ Alliance had their initial start in Fall 2021. There was a lot of interest for an organization within the AIA that brought support, resources, and community to queer architects. After some internal set up, the Alliance kicked off at the beginning of 2022 and has had monthly events ever since. They have spent the past year building visibility and outreach to members of the AIA Dallas community, because they feel that Dallas (and Texas as a whole) offers very little, if any, support for queer members of the AEC industry. Lisa Ulibarri shared that "in order to be heard and acknowledged, visibility is key and if no space is created for LGBTQIA+ architects and designers, we must take on the mantle to create our own space." In 2023, the Alliance plans on engaging in more queer youth outreach, local university organization partnerships, and engagement within the broader queer AIA branches across the country.

"In order to be heard and acknowledged, visibility is key and if no space is created for LGBTQIA+ architects and designers, we must take on the mantle to create our own space." ~ Lisa Ulibarri, AIA Dallas LGBTQIA+ Alliance
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