Meet the Crew, Pride Edition: Dan

Leanne Yenush

We’re back with another Pride Edition of the Meet the Crew series. Next up, meet Dan Dunn, Chief Operating Officer and employee number four at Hydrow. 

What does Pride mean to you?

Oh boy, that’s a big one. It means a lot of different things.

For me, Pride’s biggest meaning is to accept yourself and to love yourself - to be proud of who you are. I came out relatively late in life, at 35. For the 20 years before that, I knew I was “different” than my small-town New Hampshire upbringing expected of me, but I was afraid of the repercussions of owning who I was. I’m a better, happier person being able to express who I am. I’m proud!

Pride is also a celebration of progress made, and a thank you to the people who made that happen. The Stonewall Riots were 50 years ago and the struggle was already old then. Ten years ago I couldn’t get married because I was gay; ten days ago I could have been fired because I was gay. I’m thankful for the hard work and sacrifices of the LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies who turned these dreams into reality. In addition to celebrating progress, Pride reminds us to keep fighting for everyone who doesn’t yet enjoy the same equality.

Threaded through all of these is a fun party: celebrating yourself, celebrating progress, celebrating living a better, happier life. How can you celebrate that joy, that love of life, that love of self? There is no better way than with a big Pride party.

Inclusivity, Pride and community are big pieces of our team's ethos at Hydrow. What does this mean to you?

I’m incredibly proud of how we’ve made them into foundations of our culture.  What it means to me is that we’re building Hydrow into the place that I would have wanted to find myself at when I was younger and less confident. It’s supportive and welcoming. We’re making a company where people can be who they are and be happy. It’s really incredibly rewarding to help build something like that.

Hydrow was barely a year old when we started planning our first Pride event.  One of the first choices we made was to use the 8-colour Philly Pride Flag, which added black and brown stripes to the traditional rainbow to draw attention to issues of people of colour within the LGBTQIA+ community. This was a deliberate choice by our team; we wanted to fly the flag of inclusivity.  Hydrow is for everyone! And this was a way for us to say that, again, and in a different way.

While I am really bummed that COVID kept us from hosting our second annual Rainbow Row, I am hopeful that next year’s can be extra special. It is such a great event with rowers from all over the place and was so special. Rainbow Row felt more personal than any Pride event I’d been to before and I am so grateful that Hydrow values Pride as much as I do. 

What is the most important thing you want LGBTQIA+ individuals to know?

My message is for the person who isn’t ready yet, who hasn’t yet found the joy of Pride: it gets better. The person who needs to hear this most is probably young, at home, and afraid that if they express themselves they’ll be out of friends, and maybe out of a home. I want to tell them that they should be safe, take care of themselves, and come out. Your friends are probably more supportive than you’d guess, and even if not, there’s a whole world of people who will love you and accept you exactly as you are. The Trevor Project is a great website for you to check out and gives resources and advice to those who need it. And I’m telling you, from experience, it gets better.

When working out on Hydrow, who is your favourite Athlete? 

I can’t answer this one, you’ll get me in trouble!  

I can tell you one of my greatest memories of the early days of Hydrow was a handful of us sitting in a room and reviewing the first casting-call video submissions for Athletes. Some of them were laugh-out-loud funny, and we found some of our best Athletes that you’ve probably come to love.