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“To me, Pride means not fearing what you don’t understand,” Line Check Pilot Lane Kranz says in a Q&A.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City — a day that marked the foundation of the nation’s modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

As Delta advocates for LGBTQ+ equality, we hear from Delta voices on the importance of inclusion during Pride Month and beyond (video above). Among those voices is Atlanta-based Captain and Line Check Pilot Lane Kranz, who shared perspective on the Stonewall uprising, diverse representation in the flight deck and the best part about flying for Delta.

Fifty years after Stonewall, can you shed light on its significance to the LGBTQ+ community?

There was a bar in Greenwich Village called The Stonewall Inn where LGBTQ+ people gathered. It was a safe place to just be yourself and be around like-minded people. On the night of June 28, 1969, the bar was raided by police; many of the patrons were beaten to a bloody pulp. The occurrence ended up creating a revolution, sparking six days of riots in the streets of New York City. The riots turned into peaceful protests, which were joined by scores of straight people who were in support of LGBTQ+ people being accepted and treated equally. Those marches and peaceful protests were a catalyst for the transformational change for the civil rights of gay people. I’m happy that we now have changes in our laws that allow opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to be treated equally, just like anyone else. It’s a start, but there is still so much work ahead. 

How have the events at Stonewall affected you personally?

It’s ironic because I was born in 1969, and I just turned 50. I’ve grown up with this my whole life. I went to high school in Texas, and there were no kids or adults that were ‘out.’ Anytime gay or lesbian people were mentioned, it was always in a negative light. When I went to college, it was the first time I was around a few kids that were out. In 1969, you could not be gay or lesbian and hold a job at an airline, so it’s amazing that 50 years later I’m a Captain and Line Check Pilot for the greatest airline on the planet. This would have never been possible without those brave people stepping up in 1969, followed by decades of education, hard work and patience.

Across the nation, people are celebrating gay rights and the LGBTQ+ movement. What does Pride Month mean to you?

I think it’s an important time to recognize the progress we have made, but it’s also a good time to talk about the progress we have not made. Although there have been tremendous strides forward for gay and lesbian people, some of the other initials in LGBTQ+ are often forgotten. We have not seen as much equality and change for transgender and individuals that identify as non-binary. To me, Pride means not fearing what you don’t understand. Pride is about opening minds and opening doors.

Why is it important for the world to see diversity in the flight deck?

We’re a global airline that flies all over the world — over 300 countries on six continents. Our company brings people together from different cultures, practices, life experiences and perspectives, and it’s important for our pilot population, and workforce in general, to mirror our customers. When you harness the energy of different people, that creates new perspectives and ideas — innovation. Innovation leads to change and change leads to opportunity. This is why diversity is so important.

Can you share an experience you’ve had at Delta that made you feel included?

One experience that comes to mind is when I was a First Officer. I was flying with a captain, and he asked, ‘What does your wife do?’ I said, ‘I’m actually married to my husband, and he works for T-Mobile in Human Resources.’ He said, ‘Wow, that’s awesome. I’m not gay but my son is, he’s in college.’ It just made my heart melt when he said that. I don’t make a big point about me being gay, but if someone asks, I’m happy to share my experience.

What is your advice for Delta people who want to be strong allies for the LGBTQ+ community?

I think to just be greeted with a smile and welcomed like everyone else is the ultimate thing. All people, regardless of our orientation, want two things: to be acknowledged and to be accepted.

What do you love most about your job?

I have the greatest job in the world, and I work for the most awesome company on the planet. I’ve worked for six other airlines or aviation companies; no one does it better than Delta. As a pilot, one of my favorite things is watching the sunset or the moon rise at cruising altitude on an airplane. It’s the greatest view on earth.

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