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Black History Month: A look into the life of DC Stagehand, Gary Pair

Gary Pair

Today we are shedding light on Local 22 member, Gary Pair. He has been an IA member for 49 years and in 2023 he will become a Gold Card member. Gary is also the General Manager of The Production and Rigging Dept for The Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.

Joining the IA in 1973, Gary became a member of Local 224A, the IA’s last segregated Local, and says activism played a key part in his career. “My entire career has been one of activism, first joining what the IA called a segregated Local, we were told by the IA that we could not have white members and no other blacks could apply. We were not allowed to transfer to the white Local, so I had to go out and get work for our members or starve,” he added.

“I was very successful getting contracts for our members and was able to force the IA’s hand to allow us to bring in more members before we merged the two Locals in 1980. Today we are involved with the CECAP program for the District of Columbia, which in conjunction with Local 22 we train minority kids interested in a career in the industry.”

Pair admits being a union member has impacted his life tremendously. “Becoming a member of IATSE changed my life, because of the way I became a member has molded me into who I am today,” he added. “The minority members which came before me never had a chance to be all that they could be, and it is in their name that I give back to others.”

He says the entertainment industry has taught him that performance is everything and a behind-the-scenes worker’s performance is just as important to those working on screen. “Being backstage is no different than being on stage. You must perform and if you don’t, you will not be back. But if you do, you’ll have a great career and travel the world doing what you love.”

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