Pride Month is a time when everything is rainbows and glitter and we are we are reminded that we are seen and accepted. It’s important to remember not everything is rainbows and glitter for those who aren’t out yet. I recently saw a wonderful image of a rainbow-colored turtle tucked into its shell with the words “It’s ok if you aren’t out yet” and it reminded me of my first Pride event.
In 1995 I was a 16-year-old high school sophomore and working my first job at a local fast food place. I was certain that I was different from my friends, and still wrestling with labels and language that accurately matched how I was feeling. When I heard there was going to be a Pride parade in my town, I felt a need to be part of it.
When I arrived that Saturday, I found a spot near the library at the beginning of the parade route. Unlike most parades in town, this one would wind from the library to the capital, where speakers were lined up for a rally. I originally intended to just watch the parade, but a few adults I knew were marching with PFLAG and encouraged me to join them. There is something empowering about standing next to people acting as buffers to the slurs and hate we encountered along the way. It was incredible to see so many people from all around the state participating in the parade; there were far more of us than there were protestors.
I remember sitting on the lawn of the capitol at the rally listening to people talk about the importance of LGBT visibility and acceptance. The various speeches have since drifted away from my memory, but I vividly remember going back to work the next day still riding high on the positive energy. All of that came crashing quickly down as the closing manager expressed his homophobic thoughts about the Pride parade. Although I was not out and his comments were not aimed directly at me, I suddenly became fearful for my own safety. I left that job shortly after, but I will never forget how I felt during that shift.
By my junior year, I began my process of coming out to friends and eventually to my family. I thankfully didn’t experience any hardships related to coming out, but I know many people unfortunately do. I wish we lived in a world where we could all be loved and accepted for who we are and who we love. But until we do, I recognize that many people live a life where they can’t be out. For this reason, we should take a moment to remember that at Pride events you never know how many colorful turtles there might be. They are looking to us to show them there is a supportive community ready to welcome and protect them when they are ready.
Happy Pride Month! Whether you are an ally, out, or a colorful turtle, you are welcome and accepted.
William is the Chapter President for LEAGUE at AT&T – Montana. He is a Legacy DIRECTV Employee in Missoula, where he’s worked for the last 13 years in a variety of capacity, but currently works in the Advanced Resolutions Team as part of the Last Chance Repair team, where he works to reduce churn among newly acquired customers who have technical issues within the first 90 days of service. He is also an Assistant Chief Steward for IBEW Local 768. William received holds two B.A.s in English, with an emphasis in Queer Theory, and Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis in Gender and Identity, from the University of Montana. He lives in Missoula with his husband of 15 years.
This year Pride marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots at The Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. The Riots are considered to be the first movement towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community. To this day the fight for equality and representation continues. The LGBTQ+ community, my community, still encounters challenges every day that most people don’t experience or even consider, especially in the workplace.
When I think of representation in the workplace, I think about equality and full potential. According to a recent study by HRC, 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted in the workplace.
I know what it’s like to be two different people, one at home and one in the office. It’s exhausting, always trying to remember what story you told and to whom. When you pretend to be someone you are not you lose a bit of yourself and your productivity. It’s hard to fully concentrate on your work because you are always wondering if someone noticed something.
Here at AT&T, I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented professionals who enable diversity and inclusion. I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore and can work without worrying who knows I am gay.
The unfortunate truth is not every employee works in the same environment as I do. There are still too many employees who are afraid to be themselves or report negativity in the workplace.
Success and equality in the workplace are only possible when everyone feels comfortable to be themselves. This starts with us and communication... going back to the basics. Treating and communicating with others in the same manner you want to be treated. This will foster an environment of productivity without pause.
It’s all about representation without discrimination!
Stacey is currently Chief Operating Officer at LEAGUE at AT&T. In addition to her work at LEAGUE , she is also Lead Product Marketing Manager, Edge Solutions at AT&T Business, where she is responsible for portfolio messaging and industry positioning. Stacey received a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Business Administration from The University of Arizona. She lives in Dallas with her partner and their son.
Welcome to The LEAGUE Voice! This blog is a space for LEAGUE at AT&T’s leaders and members to discuss programs, events, and topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ Community.
As CEO, one of my priorities is re-energizing the engagement between our National Board and our Local Chapters. I’ve been meeting individually with each Chapter President and Vice President, and the idea of this blog came directly from those meetings. The goal is to provide another way for all members to stay engaged with the National board, the rest of the organization, and our community.
We recently sent out a survey called “Finding out more about our members” at the request of our executive sponsors to ensure the workplace is a space you can bring your authentic self and contribute to your personal and professional growth. I want to thank all of you who took the time to complete it – we had a record number of survey participants resulting in a good sample of our organization.
While there will be many great learnings from this data, one major theme emerged: openness and education. As we continue to find ways to build inclusivity by educating others to move them from tolerance to understanding, we need to stay open to learning about our own community. Each person’s experience, identity, orientation, definitions, and understanding are unique to them.
Here are a few data points that stood out:
Our National board will be further analyzing the survey data to develop a full package of results, interpretations, and next steps. Once finalized, we’ll be sharing that package with all our members, our executive sponsors, and our Diversity & Inclusion organization.
I hope you find our new blog series valuable and engaging! If you have ideas for blog topics or would like to contribute to the blog as a writer, please contact us. Also, consider dropping us a comment below and sharing on social media with the hashtag #leagueatatt.
Dale Leigh Street is the Chief Executive Officer of LEAGUE at AT&T, AT&T’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. She is only the second Ally to hold the position of CEO in LEAGUE’s history, and has served in many different roles over the past 8 years with the organization. Dale is also a Lead Product Marketing Manager in AT&T’s Internet of Things Solutions Organization responsible for bringing products to life that help our Manufacturing customers innovate, create efficiencies, and identify new revenue streams.