The FindSpark community celebrates diversity, inclusion, and of course, a hustler’s mindset. As a way to celebrate Pride month, we’re excited to share insight from our community members who identify as LGBTQ about being out in the workplace.
We reached out to our community to hear about their experiences and what employers can do to promote inclusivity and encourage their employees to be open about themselves.
VH1 + Logo Summer Press Coordinator
What can businesses or employers do to create a culture of inclusion in the workplace?
Employers can openly express their willingness to embrace diversity and individual uniqueness. It’s extremely important for everyone to feel safe and accepted at work, which can be as simple as lending an ear to someone who is struggling. To be completely inclusive, an employer/business can observe or allow others to observe LGBTQ-related events and holidays. Pride Month is a great opportunity to share resources, host events, and volunteer for an LGBTQ cause.
What are some of your best-recommended resources for keeping up with LGBTQ issues?
My favorite LGBTQ resource is Logo. Logo is a popular network that showcases the latest LGBTQ content, both on television and online. Free LGBTQ magazines, like The Advocate, are also highly informative. In addition, I recommend digging into some of the subsections of well-known outlets. Huffington Post, for example, has a subsection called “Queer Voices,” which reports only on the most current LGBTQ news events.
What are examples of events or initiatives that you have participated in through your LGBT employee resource group at work?
Luckily, I work in an extremely inclusive environment that provides a number of pride-related activities and opportunities. In my time with this company, I’ve offered aid to the victims of Orlando, attended the Stonewall Vigil for Orlando, prepared for the Trailblazer Awards, an event that celebrates the most influential LGBTQ members, and networked with other LGBTQ members through pride happy hours and brunches hosted by the company.
How has your office experience been affected by coming out in the workplace?
My office experiences have only strengthened my pride. I work in a place where being a member of the LGBTQ community is common, yet worth celebrating. My coworkers have given me the strength and courage to accept myself and find pride in the way I love. My relationships with them are incredibly special. If not for my coworkers and the company I work for, I would not be nearly as open about myself as I am today.
How do I know whether or not to come out at work?
Coming out at work is a delicate situation. No matter how accepting a company may be, admitting to being different is never easy. What matters most, though, is the individual’s comfort level. If the company itself doesn’t seem overly LGBTQ friendly, perhaps an open coworker can be the person to share feelings with. There will always be people who are willing to help through times of difficulty, which will make future encounters far less intimidating. It does get easier, slowly, but surely.
When was a time you faced adversity? How did you solve the problem?
So far, I have been privileged and have not faced work-related adversity. However, I’ve faced many situations outside of work that haven’t been the easiest. I often receive dirty looks from strangers for holding my girlfriend’s hand. Other times, people will tell me my “way of life” will never be accepted by God. The hardest situation, though, is not being accepted by my girlfriend’s mother. We’ve been dating for a while, but she refuses to meet me. All I want is to prove myself as worthy for her daughter, but she won’t give me the time of day. It may be challenging sometimes, but the best thing to do in any instance of adversity is to continue loving yourself and others, to smile, to laugh, to be proud, and to understand that even though others may have opposing opinions, nothing is wrong with being different. Love is the greatest power to possess and will always, always, always be stronger than hate.
What is your advice for someone who may be struggling with being out in the workplace?
My best advice is to take advantage of LGBTQ resources and community members. There are so many people like me who want to help others. There are hotlines, community boards, clubs, groups, and events for the LGBTQ community. All of which provide a safe space to confide and share experiences. It’s vital to remember that no one has to go it alone and that things truly do get better.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your experience?
It took me a very long time to find myself and to realize that’s completely okay. The journey can be long and hard, but it’s important to do everything at one’s own pace. There are no rights and wrongs and coming out is different for everyone. For me, I always felt this pressure to rush and to be ready when I wasn’t. The right time will come and it will be okay. I promise.
Do you want to share your story and inspire the FindSpark community? Email email@example.com to get involved.