Together We Stand for Pride

McDonald's Shines a Spotlight on the Out100


Hit the lights because we're about to shine bright on a beloved, star-studded annual event that doubles as a compilation of achievements in the LGBTQ+ community: the Out100. The dazzling night celebrates and brings together a constellation of the best and brightest LGBTQ+ individuals who are making significant strides in various fields. Not only does Out100 lift up the incredible work and accomplishments of its honorees, it stands as a beacon of empowerment and visibility within the community.

Once again, McDonald's showed up as a sponsor for the Out100 in the Fall, reaffirming its commitment to diversity and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community. In collaboration with Out100, they shined a spotlight and championed the honorees as trailblazers, recognizing their contributions and helping amplify their voices and stories.

McDonald's has collaborated with its partners to create a magical evening for the guests and honorees in years past. For last year's event, upon entering, attendees were welcomed by the McDonald's Lounge, where they got to enjoy Chicken McNuggets and fries as well as customize a branded gift. Once inside the venue, guests were directed to the iconic golden arches, which doubled as tunnels filled with glowing projections that celebrated the year's Out100 honorees by featuring their pictures, names and accomplishments. As partner organization Out Magazine wrote, passing under the arches "created a magical ambiance that fostered a sense of togetherness." It is the spirit of that togetherness that McDonald's strives for in every aspect of their support for the Out100.

From groundbreakers and innovators, to educators, storytellers and artists, one such honoree, Gracie Cartier, exemplifies the power of sharing their story. Before she became host of "Transcend," a show that leads conversations on wellness and battling stigma for the +Life platform, the Black transgender multi-hyphenate entertainer struggled to find her true identity. But it was through her struggles that she found her strength. When she was dubbed an Out100 honoree, Cartier partnered with McDonald's in 2021 for the "Livin It" which was all about celebrating inclusivity, progress and love in all its forms – to share the story of her journey towards embracing her authentic self.

Cartier wore high heels for the first time as a part of a Halloween costume in 2012, prompting an internal awakening. "That was the moment when it really registered that the person that I always knew since the age of five – that always imagined, that always dreamed it, always had this vision – there was that aha moment of it all beginning and coming into fruition," she said in an interview with Out.

Once Cartier recognized her true identity and came out as a trans woman, she uncovered "a newfound unconditional love" and embraced all of her intersectional identities. "It means for me to step into the fullness of who I am as a Black powerful, beautiful woman," she says. "Now everything else that falls under the umbrella, I embrace and I accept it all."

The night was filled with other honorees who shed light on important issues in the queer community. Alicia Roth Weigel, LGBTQIA+ activist and star of the documentary "Every Body," was interviewed on the red carpet about representing the intersex community and ensuring stories like hers get told. "The 'I' is for Intersex, not Invisible," she told the red carpet host for Out. Likewise, Reverend Leslie Jackson, an out gay pastor at St. Peter United, preaches acceptance and openness for the queer community and beyond: "You are loved. You are welcomed. You are worthy. You are accepted. You have a purpose."

Additionally, McDonald's has been an ongoing collaborator with the Human Rights Campaign. HRC leads the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and collaborates with businesses and brands like McDonald's for taking action toward greater equality and inclusion. Kelly Robertson, president of the Human Rights Campaign and champion of Out100, reflected in an interview on the progress we've made in recent years. "Progress isn't only possible, but it's happening and we are a part of it," she said in a message of hope at the Out100. "And together we will win."

Beyond the glitz and glamour, the Out100 honorees do the hard work of showing up for their community, empowering those around them, and striving for inclusion. McDonald's hopes to continue using its platform as a household name brand to amplify these strong individuals with increased visibility. And when that happens, the honorees' voices continue to be heard, as Cartier proudly claims: "It's something so liberating and rewarding... when you get to a point of not allowing anyone's opinions to dictate the choice of your life. The choice is only yours – and never give it away to anyone else."

by Roger Porter

This story is part of our special report: "McDonald's Unity in Diversity and Mentally Strong Editorial Series". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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