Fulbright scholar Dr. Derrell Acon (he/him) is an award-winning activist, performer, and leader who understands the power of the arts to foster human compassion and catalyze conversations on challenging subjects. He has over 15 years of experience as an EDI practitioner, and is known for his unique and provocative presentations, which often combine performance and scholarship. Dr. Acon is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grantee for his work in dismantling oppressive systems in opera, and has taught at all levels on topics in 19th century opera, Black art, and artistic activism.
What is your favorite Pride month event or celebration?
San Diego hosts my favorite Pride month celebration in the world. Each year I’ve attended has been super joyful and packed with more events and parties than one could even attempt to attend.
What LGBTQ+ icons or activists have inspired you?
Angela Davis, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes, to name a few.
What can people and corporations do to support the LGBTQ+ community year-round, not just during Pride month?
The more that folks educate themselves on the most pressing issues in the community, the more sustainable their advocacy will be. I would like to see people and corporations commit to staying abreast of the major policy and legislative proposals and activist initiatives in their local LGBTQ+ communities, and figuring out their own unique ways of supporting them. This is allyship and it is the best shot we have at sustainable action.
How can businesses create more inclusive environments for their employees and patrons?
Represent your communities. If you have your community working at your company and everyone is given due agency to be at the decision-making table, then the needs, values, and visioning of your full staff base and patronage will begin to organically become centered in the operations of your work. Businesses must actively create systems to promote this level of radical inclusion and belonging.