News / Published on Jun 11, 2024

Celebrating Pride with Phillip & Lance

We're spotlighting some of the amazing people who help shape the work Community Transit does each day.
Phillip & Lance on their wedding day. This image was printed on canvas and gifted to the couple as from fellow coworkers.

June is Pride Month, a global celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, (Questioning), Intersex, Asexual, and (Agender) plus (LGBTQIA+) community. This Pride Month, we're spotlighting some of the amazing people who help Community Transit serve people every day. At Community Transit, Pride is personal for many of our employees. Phillip Jefferies, senior program manager of Field Marketing, and Lance Lewis, a Community Transit bus driver, recently celebrated Pride with their colleagues at the Snohomish Pride Parade. Phillip and Lance's 26-year relationship has been centered on finding and building community. 

Finding community 

“I grew up as a gay person in rural Texas,” says Jefferies. “Lance and I moved to Seattle in 2001 in search of a community that was more accepting and supportive of our relationship. In Texas, our only exposure to Pride was maybe on the news as a report of some counterculture parade happening in a faraway city. But what we found in Seattle was that Pride was an amazing time when allies raised a rainbow flag and celebrated us as a part of their community. To come here and be a part of that was a beautiful experience." 

After a 13-year stint at a telecom company left Jefferies feeling burnt out, he began a new career as a bus driver for Community Transit in 2014.  

“I liked the idea of being a part of the behind-the-scenes fabric that keeps our community moving,” he says.  

Jefferies worked as a bus driver for more than two years before moving into a role in the marketing division. He and Lewis also moved to a community in unincorporated Snohomish County. 

“For every change — moving to rural Snohomish County, starting a new job — we were a bit nervous. And as a gay person, it can be a point of insecurity. Are people going to like me? Will people judge me because of who I am? But I have felt so much love and support from my community here. That experience helped me convince Lance to apply at Community Transit.” 

Lewis joined Community Transit in March of 2020, the same month that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.  

“We’d both worked together in Texas, decades before, but this was the first job where we were both open with our coworkers about being together,” says Lewis. “It was such a great experience coming here. They really do put the ‘community’ in ‘Community Transit.”  

“For every major change, I started out nervous, and I found that people are good; They value their neighbors, they value making people feel accepted and respected,” says Jefferies. “We didn’t have any expectation of finding community here. But we found community and so much more.”

Second image: Phillip Jefferies (front) and Lance Lewis are shown smiling and toasting their union at their wedding.

Celebrating love 

In 2012, Washington State approved Referendum 74, making same-sex marriage legal.  

“When Washington transitioned from domestic partnership to marriage, we planned to get married at the courthouse,” says Jefferies. 

“We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an elaborate wedding,” says Lewis. "Instead, it all beautifully came together around us.”   

One coworker volunteered his home as a venue. Another planned the decorations and food. Yet another volunteered his photography talents to capture the day. “Many coworkers helped in big and small ways to create wedding memories that will last a lifetime,” says Jefferies.  

Jamie Johns, a graphic designer at Community Transit, was the officiant.  

“I remember telling Phillip about being the officiant at my friend's wedding. He was still new to our department, and I was still getting to know him, but he told me that when he got ‘gay married,’ he would have me marry them and ‘wave my witchy stick’ over them. And not long after that, I had the joy of marrying him and Lance.”

Jamie Johns officiates the marriage between Lance Lewis (left) and Phillip Jefferies (right) as friends and family watch in the background.

“They threw us a dream wedding surrounded by the people we love,” says Jefferies. “One of the few pictures hanging in my house is a canvas print of a picture that Andrew Brown took that the team gifted us. Every time I see that picture, I think of that day. It was such a display of inclusion and love. I knew from that experience that we belonged here.”  (Editor's note: See the picture Jefferies references at the top of this page).   

“Part of the honor of being a leader on a team here is that I get to influence the employee experience. I have that privilege of paying it forward,” says Jefferies. 

 Phillip Jefferies (left) and Lance Lewis (right) smile as they sign their marriage certificate on their wedding day.

Paying it forward  

“It’s been interesting to see how Pride has evolved since we first moved here in 2001 — a time when gay marriage felt like a faraway possibility,” says Jefferies. “In many ways, I felt a deeper connection to Pride in those earlier years. It had a grassroots grittiness about it.” 

Today, says Jefferies, many companies and corporations are all in for celebrating Pride. “It’s become a mainstream market. But that didn’t happen overnight.”   

"The first time Community Transit participated in Pride in 2017, we had to go to Seattle to do it because there wasn’t one in Snohomish County. In 2018, we tried adding a Rainbow logo to our social profiles, but then we had to pull it down.  Fast forward to today, and here we are in the little city of Snohomish with people lining the sidewalk cheering for us and our bus with the rainbow bunting, appreciating their hometown service provider.” 

Phillip & Lance smile at the Snohomish Pride celebration. A Community Transit bus decked out with rainbow bunting is shown in the background.

“Community Transit has adopted Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a core value. And we want our programs and events to reflect those values, which has meant more participation in cultural celebrations like Pride,” says Jefferies. “Today, we’re participating in Pride celebrations in Monroe, Edmonds, Lake Stevens, and more. So much has changed for the better in these last five years.”   

For Lewis, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are values that he thinks about every day while serving different communities.  

“I love being a bus driver. I try hard to project the energy that my bus is a safe place. Every day, I meet people from so many different backgrounds and identities. For example, if a rider has a language barrier, I’ll pull up Google Translate to try and answer their questions. It’s important that every rider feels welcome and safe.”     

“It’s rewarding to do work that feels meaningful. At a previous job I had, they would talk about being a family, but it never felt that way. At Community Transit, you don’t hear that talk in corporate speak, but you feel it in your connections with people who are united behind providing a nonprofit service, people who want to contribute to the greater good.” says Jefferies.  

Happy Pride from Community Transit  

We're proud to have Phillip, Lance, and all our LGBTQIA+ employees as part of the family. This Pride Month, and every month, we celebrate the diversity that makes our communities strong. Learn more about Pride celebrations in our communities and how you can take transit to get there. Happy Pride!  

Image captions:

Top image: Phillip Jefferies (left) & Lance Lewis (right) are shown on their wedding day. Coworkers later printed this image on canvas and gifted it to the couple. Photographed by Andrew Brown. 

Second image: Phillip Jefferies (front) and Lance Lewis are shown smiling and toasting their union at their wedding. Photographed by Andrew Brown.   

Third image: Jamie Johns officiates the marriage between Lance Lewis (left) and Phillip Jefferies (right) as friends and family watch in the background. Photographed by Andrew Brown. 

Fourth image: Phillip Jefferies (left) and Lance Lewis (right) smile as they sign their marriage certificate on their wedding day. Photographed by Andrew Brown. 

Fifth image: Phillip Jefferies & Lance Lewis smile at the Snohomish Pride celebration. A Community Transit bus decked out with rainbow bunting is shown in the background.