In honor of Pride month this year, we interviewed several members of our Collibra Pride Community Employee Resource Group, highlighting the experience of LGBTQ+ members and allies during such a unique time. Despite a global pandemic and social unrest, Pride this year is still undoubtedly a celebration of the triumphs and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community and serves as a poignant reminder of progress through protest. Read on for a glimpse at how some Collibrians are celebrating Pride in 2020, what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community at Collibra and within tech as a whole, and the future of the Collibra Pride Community.
This has been a tumultuous year so far with a lot of uncertainty and unrest around the globe. How are you celebrating Pride this year, and how have the current events inspired you to show your pride?
Alex: The current events have definitely inspired me to be a lot more vocal about the issues that we’re facing, and amplify the voices of others. It’s making me push for more justice, equality, inclusion and respect in general. I’m using Pride month as a time to focus on sharing on social media what the queer experience looks like for me, and to boost the voices of queer people of color who are being specifically targeted at the moment. It will be a balance of making sure I portray my own experience without taking away space from someone else who needs it. While Pride is a celebration today, we shouldn’t forget that the first Pride came from a protest. It’s great to have celebrations around Pride but this also shouldn’t distract from the protest aspect. This year specifically, we need to remember that Pride started because queer people of color were protesting against police brutality.
Saxton: I’m not attending any in-person events this year, which is usually a big part of Pride, due to COVID19. But for me, my most recent focus has been around the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting Black trans lives. I feel more empowered right now to speak out, specifically with my family. The current events have brought up many different opinions that I don’t necessarily see reflected on a regular basis because a lot of my family members don’t know people who are affected by the movements that are gaining momentum right now. Being part of the LGBTQ community has made me relate to people in a different way than many of my family members have, and this has empowered me to really push back on people who are disagreeing with the racial injustices in the US. I fully acknowledge that I don’t know what the black community is going through, but I’ve faced discrimination based on my sexuality. I’m relating through those experiences and using them to drive difficult conversations. The current events have helped me feel more confident in having those conversations and presenting my experiences and opinions in a way that I haven’t been able to in the past.
Laura: I’m celebrating Pride this year by catching up on all the great resources that have been shared by our Pride Community ERG members. Specifically, I’d like to educate myself more on transgender-related topics, since I’m less familiar with this. One of our ERG leaders shared a video on how trans people see themselves and it has been eye-opening to me! There’s a whole world out there on this topic and I’d definitely like to learn more. The current events have definitely raised my awareness of how different developed countries regard and view the LGBTQ+ community. Spain has been forward-thinking when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ+ people; this community has enjoyed equal rights for a long time now in Spain, so sometimes I think that this is the reality for other developed countries when it’s clearly not the case. This has inspired me to be less assumptive with non-Europeans, and to be more understanding of different perspectives during discussions on this topic.
Are there any assumptions about the LGBTQ+ community in tech or the workplace overall that you’d like to challenge?
Alex: The biggest assumption that I’ve encountered is that people assume I’m a man because I look like a man. They use male pronouns and count me as ‘one of the guys’ without realizing that I don’t identify with that. Sometimes people are reluctant to accept it, and I’m often faced with ignorance, shock and even push-back when I express discomfort or voice my perspective. Every now and then, I do some things intentionally to try to mix it up – like showing up at a work party in heels and makeup – but that shouldn’t be a requirement for my identity to be taken seriously. I would challenge people to rethink their assumptions now and then – it’s not easy, but it’s a crucial part of being a good ally.
Tara: I have had conversations during my career with people in the LGBTQ+ community who have told me that they’ve felt singled out or bullied in the workplace. It’s important when we’re in an often homogenized industry like tech to make sure that minority communities feel heard and accepted. We need to amplify those voices and make sure we’re encouraging them to provide input into our product and our company because that’s what makes our work better.
Saxton: My experiences in the tech space in relation to the LGBTQ+ community have been positive overall, but I think a large part of this is due to the fact that I’m a white hetero-presenting male. I think it’s very different in the trans community, where they don’t necessarily fit into a specific ‘box.’ Personally, I’ve felt really celebrated in the tech space. Organizations like Out in Tech have brought the community together and have given us a platform to connect to others like us. That being said, I do think a lot of us feel obligated to tone down the way we express ourselves in a professional environment. For example, I’ve noticed that I sometimes deepen my voice during meetings. This is just one of a few defense mechanisms I think I subconsciously use to try to fit in more. I almost feel that I’ll be taken more seriously in the workplace when I’m less expressive. I’m not at a point yet where I feel comfortable challenging this, but I think and hope that this will change over time with more LGBTQ+ representation and overall diversity in the tech space.
What’s one tip that you have for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies who want to get involved with Collibra Pride Community ERG?
Rafael: Don’t be shy. Try to educate yourself and the broader community. Bring up topics and let’s have an open honest discussion about it.
Alex: As an ally, it’s important to ask questions if you’re unsure about something and be prepared to learn new things. However, acknowledge that you may not always receive an answer if the topic is too sensitive or the wording of your question is uncomfortable. This shouldn’t by any means deter you from asking questions – it just means that you should be comfortable accepting ‘no’ as an answer sometimes. Personally, I feel lucky that my mental energy isn’t spent on facing microaggressions – so I have some reserve for answering questions that may come from more of a naive place. This isn’t the case for many queer folx. This is actually something quite rare, so I try to use this in a good way to help educate others. If you’re interested in learning more about being a good ally for the LGBTQ+ community, I highly recommend checking out GLAAD.org – this is a great starting point.
Tara: I recently joined Collibra in January and I immediately got involved with this ERG. My best tip is to join ERGs! It doesn’t need to be Collibra Pride exclusively – it can be Women of Collibra or BLEND (Black and Latino Employee Networking and Development Group & Allies), for example. Many of our ERGs overlap and have similar missions, but the way that we voice things can vary a bit.
As One Collibra, we celebrate Pride Month and the members and allies of our LGBTQ+ community. Momentous times are paving the way for open conversations, reflection, education and change, and we feel extremely grateful that our participants were willing to share their stories and experiences, and foster open, direct and kind discussions. Happy Pride Month to the entire LGBTQ+ community!