Meet Lindsay Pounder, LGBTQ+ ally and all-around badass volunteer
The LGBTQ+ community describes an ally as a heterosexual or cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQ+ social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. It’s a statement that perfectly describes Lindsay Pounder.
Pounder has been fighting for the rights of people in the LGBTQ+ community since college. But her story isn’t as happy or colorful as the rainbows that represent the community she serves.
This is my why
Pounder works for Turner Ignite as the director of social strategy within ad sales. The proud New York native grew up in a progressive household that was very accepting of others and taught her about different identities and relationships. Her upbringing is what she says helped her form an immediate bond with someone that would forever change her life. She calls him “John” to maintain his privacy and she calls him her “why.” They met in college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and became close friends. So close that Pounder was the first person to whom he revealed his true self.
“It was really special to see. I was the first person he came out to and that was really meaningful to me,” she recalled.
“John” grew up in a place that was very unaccepting of the LGBTQ+ community. This included his parents – especially his father – who was openly homophobic. Pounder says “John” realized in college that he was in a more accepting place and felt that he found himself and didn’t have to hide anymore. But that mood shifted at the end of the school year, as Pounder and “John” traveled abroad. As summer approached and “John’s” return home loomed, his mood changed.
She remembered, “I could feel that something was wrong, something had changed because he was acting differently.”
Pounder said the weight of going home for the summer and having to hide again was just too much for him – deciding he’d rather not live at all than go home and keep living a lie. Pounder was the one who found “John” in the bathroom. She administered first aid she learned as a camp counselor, doing everything she could until help arrived. Only thing was the two were traveling in a remote area and it took more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. “John” quickly became unresponsive, so Pounder just held him tightly in her lap, replaying everything in her head and wondering if she could have done something differently. She felt heartbroken for her friend, and for all the other people who feel like there's not a place for them in this world.
Thankfully, his story doesn’t end that day. The ambulance was able to get “John” to the hospital in time and doctors were able to save his life. Pounder says they remain close friends to this day and that “John” is very happy and doing well.
“I'm hesitant to tell anyone his story because it's pretty heavy, but this is my why,” Pounder stated, noting that this experience has made her a much more active ally. She adds, “If you look at the statistics, especially around suicide rates, they’re so much higher in the LGBTQ+ communities, especially within the transgender community.”
Don’t forget the “T” in LGBTQ+
Helping transgender individuals is also an important cause for Pounder and it stems from another school experience. Following undergrad at Vanderbilt, Pounder attended Columbia Business School in New York for her MBA. It’s there she met another classmate and friend, Marnie, who identifies as gender neutral.
In addition to forging a friendship, the two created a workshop for transgender education. The curriculum was presented to the full admissions team, the school’s leadership team, a dozen professors, and more than 200 classmates. The goal was to create a more inclusive community for current and future transgender students and included topics on what it means to be transgender, the difference between sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity, plus an overview of different sub-communities within the larger LGBTQ+ community. The two friends were also instrumental in helping get gender-neutral restrooms installed on campus and changing the school application forms.
Gender-neutral bathrooms (designed for those who do not necessarily identify as male or female) were recently added to WarnerMedia’s new facility at Hudson Yards in New York. Pounder and the Business Resource Group TurnOut, where she is a board member, helped reinforce the importance of having a gender neutral option.
“Marie was talking to me about how stressful it is during the day, trying to plan out everywhere you go and everywhere you walk so that you will be able to find a bathroom. I couldn’t imagine that level of stress for something that I take for granted. It’s not something I have to work into my day to day routine,” Pounder said.
Action through volunteerism
Outside of her work with the LGBTQ+ community, the newlywed (Pounder just got married in June) is also very active with Turner’s Corporate Responsibility Council, as well as animal organizations and partnering in the mentorship of teens and young adults. She’s currently working with the Posse Foundation, which provides full four-year scholarships to students from diverse backgrounds to top colleges and universities.
Pounder has long been a game changer for her community. But she’s hoping she doesn’t have to do it alone. She wants others to learn from her example and be an ally – just like she is.
She explained, “I would love for other allies to know that it's okay to be very involved and to be very vocal. There are obviously instances where you will take a step back, because you don't want to take anything away from members of the community. But the more vocal you are and the more support you give the better. Allies should not shy away. Get involved, be loud, especially during June, because it's Pride month, and Pride's for everybody.”
And that’s exactly what Pounder will be doing as she gets ready to walk in the march this year when World Pride descends on New York City on Sunday, June 30. She’ll be talkin’ the talk, and walkin’ the walk… literally!
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