Like the almost 150 online communities run by Communispace, representing 92 countries around the world, the staff here represents a wide variety of people. Diversity is not only embraced here, it is encouraged. As a gay man, this has special meaning to me. Gay people in our company are well-represented in every department and every level of the organization. The atmosphere of tolerance here is inspiring.
Being gay in the workplace has not always been easy for me. In 1989, Massachusetts first included sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination legislation. I was right out of school at the time, just out of the closet to my friends. I was trying to figure out how to fit into the professional workforce without pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Although I was encouraged at the time by this change in the law, I was not ready to be open to the people I worked with, for fear of some form of retribution. Instead, I just closed out people who could have been great friends.
However, employers began to recognize the value of their gay employees and started extending benefits to them. Some included benefits for gay domestic partners even before gay marriage became a reality. And, as I began to develop my professional relationships, it became easier to be more open about who I really was. At some point along the way, I realized I was not giving people enough credit. Maybe I was the prejudiced one.
More positive visibility in the media also helped me on this journey. When I was younger, the best we had were the depictions of gay people in “Dynasty” and “Soap.” (Yeah, I admit it, I watched both, so…?) I thought of this recently when I saw this McDonald’s ad running in France. The message McDonalds sends is very simple, and very powerful.
June is National Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in the United States. Pride was first enacted as an official celebration in 2000, by President Bill Clinton, but it had been observed unofficially for years as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. Pride events celebrate the progress the gay community has made during the past 41 years. Events are held throughout the U.S., even at Disney World.
During Pride, I think a lot about my own personal growth. This blog post is evidence of it.
I also go dancing.