Meet Derek St. Pierre, IATSE Local 489 Costume Supervisor. The Pittsburgh native proudly identifies as queer and non-binary, and uses the pronouns he/they. Derek currently serves as the Chair of Local 489’s Diversity Committee, a Board of Trustees Member, and an Executive Committee Member-At-Large on the International’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Derek first began their involvement in union participation and activism when they were a member of Actors Equity Association. “During my time in AEA, I had a very intense dance injury. This injury changed my life and the trajectory of my career, motivating me to move from the stage and into the field of costumes,” they said. “I felt like the industry was not the most supportive for a performer’s physical health. So, I joined a group of grassroot AEA members to fight for various policy changes and push to have physical therapy as a contractual term for actors and dancers performing on the road.”
They said this level of activism and passion to evoke positive change only carried over when joining IATSE. “Last spring, at home during a pandemic and witnessing the injustice and murder of George Floyd, I felt the familiar push to speak out and voice up about social justice, equity, and inclusion,” they remarked.
An IA member since 2016, Derek says one of their proudest moments as a union member was at the start of the pandemic. “The fact that IA members were supported throughout the pandemic with health insurance and subsidies during a time where we weren’t able to earn our own health insurance and income was a very proud moment for me,” they said. “To witness how the IA stepped in only proved that when the inevitable happens and tough times arise, the IA is a safety net that has your back. At that moment, it was very affirming as to why I joined a union!”
St. Pierre also says they’re proud to see all the work Pride Committee Chair Nate Richmond has done for the visibility for LGBTQIA+ members and the launching of the International’s DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Committee. “I have not always been comfortable expressing my true self at work because it has not always felt like a safe place for queer members. But, within the past few years, I have felt a shift within the union. Today, I feel less cautious and more comfortable being my authentic self,” they added.
“As for the DEI Committee, we have so many brilliant minds and people who are committed to bringing structural change within our union and industry,” he says. “It’s exciting and an honor to be a part of this robust change. All the hard work we are doing as a committee today, I cannot wait to see the impact it has in five years and beyond.”
And while some members may feel alone, Derek said they encourage LGBTQIA+ members to seek out like-minded members and connect with other Locals. “I want other queer members to know that they do have the support from the International, their IA siblings are out there, and they too want to support you.”