Posted on August 4, 2021 (September 3, 2021) by Kelly Riegler Spread the loveIt’s important to remember that Pride doesn’t end in June and that your queer coworkers still work towards the fight for equality even after June 30th comes to a close. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, oftentimes it can be hard to find your place in the professional world, much less feel comfortable about it. I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and have grown into a confident professional where I have found a welcoming space with Webfor – where representation is key! It’s wild to think that gay marriage didn’t become federally legal until 2015. I can vividly remember the moment as I was walking home from class in college, I got the CNN notification on my phone that the legalization of same-sex marriage had passed through Supreme Court. It is important to remember how recently this happened and that there is so much more to be done in the fight for equality. Have you ever felt uncomfortable? Holding your partner’s hand Using a gendered term to refer to your partner Participating in a conversation while others talk about their significant others Having someone find you on social media Buying a gift for your significant other Answering the question “what’s your relationship to them?” when the doctor asks for your emergency contact “As of today, hundreds of bills have been introduced in state legislatures around the country that attempt to erase transgender people make LGBTQ people second class citizens. In order to achieve equality, we need those in positions of power at the largest businesses in the country to rise up against injustice and discrimination…” Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President Representation Matters! Representation of LGBTQ+ folks in the professional community is of the utmost importance! Representation helps lift up queer voices, it helps us find our place not only in our community but in our workspace. The values promoted in our workspace help me, as an LGBTQ+ employee feel supported, safe, and better able to execute my job to the best of my abilities. It’s important as an organization to reflect on what you’re doing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and ensure the actions you take back the words you speak! I’ll take a second to put this all in a frame of reference to hopefully invoke a bit of empathy. In the show Schitt’s Creek, there is a queer couple that becomes a major part of the storyline. The catch? They never have to “come out”. They are embraced within their community and in a monumental way, can be holistically themselves without justification. They are encouraged by their community and end up doing great things for their community. The same can be said for the workplace. via GIPHY Be inclusive with your language! Try using gender-neutral terms when asking a new employee about their significant other. “Partner” is a great place to start. Be mindful of phrases like “I had a hunch you were gay!” this implies that they check a box or fit into a norm, and are less encouraged to be themselves. State your pronouns! But why? … because it helps affirm other’s identities! Affirmation = inclusion. Amplify LGBTQ+ voices! Ensure that folks from all walks of life are well-represented within your organization and that those folks are afforded appropriate opportunities to be heard. For example, here’s how I display my pronouns in my signature! In conclusion… Being part of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t all rainbows and Pride parades. It is isolating, it is difficult, it hinders your understanding of yourself, and it can be potentially dangerous in the workplace. Be an ally, research, learn, change your language up to be more inclusive, take action, and if able, make donations of time and money. Use your voice, use your privilege!