I love the queer alphabet, not just because, as a lesbian the ‘L’ stands proudly at the front, but because over the last 20 years it kept evolving and we’ve found new ways to ensure that – especially within our own community – we remain as inclusive as possible.We want to make sure everyone in our community feels represented… gone are the LGBT days and hello to the LGBTIQA+ days.
I think the reason I love it so much is because it takes us back to the essence of Pride. For a lot of people the Pride parade isn’t just a party, it’s somewhere they can go to be celebrated as a human being; somewhere they can be fully seen and not hold back pieces of themselves. Pride is a time when people don’t have to try and ‘fit in’ with everyone else to be loved but to be fabulous and free.
Validation and acceptance is something we all need.
This is just as important when choosing a job – well, it has become massively important for me! I no longer want to work in a place where I am
constantly assessing when to ‘give the gay’ away. I want to work somewhere where I feel comfortable using the word ‘girlfriend’ over ‘partner’ and I don’t have to question whether it’s okay for me to upload photos from Pride on my Instagram. I want to work in a place where this is as normal as discussing what my last Netflix binge was.
The reality is that for many, coming out isn’t a once in a lifetime thing. It happens every time you move, change jobs and meet new people; you try to make a decision while constantly guessing how the other person may potentially react to the information. Do I announce it? So I slip it into conversation? Do I even need to say anything at all?
One of my favourite interactions was about 20 years ago. I took my colleague and boss into a room with the intention of coming out to them, we were becoming more like friends than colleagues and I felt a little like I was lying by omission. When I finally said the words, I held my breath not knowing what to expect… it turns out my boss was just happy I didn’t hand in my notice.
I chuckle at the thought of it, but I was lucky. Some people have lost their jobs over similar conversations; others kept their job but had their life made miserable by the discrimination that ensues. It is these stories that keep a person in the closet. It’s damaging, it’s exhausting and it’s not healthy.
Immersive Labs is still a fairly new environment for me but coming out wasn’t something I ever needed to give a second thought. When you’re gay you can ‘sense a room’, and get a feeling of judgment or warmth. This is what I sensed from the first day at Immersive Labs; that is when I knew that I would get through probation, because I haven’t just found a job, but a community.
I just feel as though I belong.
I don’t think I even had a coming out conversation, just a natural flow about what happened on the weekend or a tale of a disastrous date. Once I finished my comment or story, there wasn’t even a flicker of discomfort. It was like I just said I had finished a good book – that’s when you know.
I feel celebrated for my talents as opposed to my sexuality. I am surrounded by caring human beings. I realised that this wasn’t just something the business was shouting about on their website. People genuinely live it, and for that I feel proud and incredibly grateful. I can dedicate 100% of my energy, passion and drive to my work rather than worry about hiding who I am.
Originally, I wanted to lend my voice during Pride and write about my experience as a gay woman working in a tech company. As I progressed I realised that what I really wanted to say was thank you to my colleagues for giving me a sense of belonging and to wish them a fabulous Pride!