Trending / June 5, 2023

Pride Through Visibility

What does Pride mean to me? It is personal; yet, the visibility of fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community has shaped my definition of pride. Today, I take pride in who I am as a person, a wife, a stepmom, a grandma, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a leader, and an employee. However, in each of those relationships, there were times when I struggled with that feeling of pride because of the fear of not being accepted as my true self. In those times of self-doubt, I looked to others as role models.

As a college student, I went to a few Pride parades and celebrations. I remember admiring people of all ages, but particularly the older participants. They were part of the generation that struggled to be open, or “out” as young people. They were representing their peers who stood up for themselves, starting with the high-profile riots in 1969, and were working each and every day to bring awareness and garner acceptance from society, one neighborhood or city at a time.

I didn’t understand their personal struggles, but I realized there was a community where I felt free and safe outside of my guarded college life. Even though I feared not being accepted on campus, I remained focused on achieving my dream of earning a degree in engineering. I also stayed true to myself and met the woman who would eventually become my wife.       

Early in my career, I was still very guarded with whom I confided about my authentic self.  Outside of work, I spent time getting to know people in the Dallas area LGBTQIA+ community. I met people who would talk about their jobs and how they were open, honest, and authentic at work. They were well-respected managers, directors, VPs, and CEOs of companies across all industries. As someone in IT, I was especially interested in the journey of the people working for companies in high-tech industries. Hearing and learning about their successes gave me confidence that times were changing for the better. If I could feel pride in myself within my personal relationships, I could do the same at work and around my friends who were not part of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

As I joined new companies, I found more and more representation of LGBTQIA+ folks who I could look to as role models. I even found some friends who could mentor me who had achieved their dreams as high-ranking executives while being authentic and true to themselves. During this month of celebrating Pride, there are so many reasons that I am proud to represent Gigamon, but I am especially grateful for our company’s culture of acceptance and that everyone can be their authentic self every day. 

Reflecting on my Pride journey, I am reminded that there have been people before me who have stood up for themselves who identified as LGBTQIA+ when it was not as easy. I am grateful for all they did. They showed up authentically every day and served as role models for me, helping me get where I am today. Now that it’s my turn, I hope that someone will see me and realize they too can show up and represent Pride as their authentic self every day.

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