“We live everyday of our lives, but we only have one life. And if we show up as our most authentic selves, we’re leading by example to our coworkers, peers and friends.”

Olivia Jaramillo, Director of Public Outreach at Equality Utah, knows first-hand what it’s like to truly embrace her most authentic self. 

While serving in the military, Jaramillo made the decision to transition from a man to a woman  — a decision in which she wasn’t sure how her fellow comrades would respond. However, Jaramillo looks back on this experience as one that evoked an overwhelming sense of support.

Equality Utah is Utah’s premiere LGBTQ Civil Rights Organization, dedicated to changing hearts and minds to embrace a more diverse and inclusive community.

At the Salt Lake Chamber’s President Ambassador’s Meeting in February, business professionals gathered to discuss community events, outreach, issues, successes and more. This month’s guest speakers were Mindy Young, Managing Director of Equality Utah, along with Jaramillo.

“As an ally, as a mom and as someone who really cares, we can show up for each other, no matter how we identify,” said Young. “I’m super passionate about changing this state’s culture to just be more loving.”

What does it mean to show allyship? Young explained that this entails showing up for each other after asking an individual how they want to be supported.

“When you go and advocate and be an ally, you’re a change maker,” said Young.

Education is the first step.

“We need education around LGBTQ topics,” said Young. “Our teachers, adults, parents and friends must be educated so that everyone just feels included.”

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Jaramillo, elaborating on Young’s statement. “Once we actually start understanding the terms and concepts of the language of inclusion, we start to put aside any stereotypes.”

Creating a culture that embraces and accepts the LGBTQ community requires a safe place to answer those questions. 

Every year the Utah Pride Center, a partner of Equality Utah, hosts the Pride March and Rally during Pride Week in June. 

“I’ve been to many Pride marches,” said Jaramillo. “In Utah, the amount of families and the amount of love is incredible. They feel so comfortable having a place where they can feel like they can be themselves.”

For more information about Equality Utah and its diversity and inclusion trainings, visit https://www.equalityutah.org/.