June is Pride Month! This month is a time dedicated to celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual and/or Ally) Pride Month occurs in the United States to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Today, Pride events in June recognize the impact LGBTQ+ people have had in the world.
At Lulu, we celebrate Pride Month by doing our best to support and amplify members of the LGBTQ+ community in big and small ways, including showcasing books by LGBTQ+ Lulu Authors, sharing firsthand stories from employees, and donating to meaningful organizations that can provide more direct support to this community.
Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or are an ally, everyone can join in the celebration of love. At Lulu nearly a third of our team are part of the LGBTQ+ community. An inclusive culture and the efforts we’ve all made to ensure the entire Lulu teams can show up as their authentic selves.
Lulu is dedicated to being a safe place to work.
LGBTQ+ In The Workplace
For this post, I want to shed some light on the challenges facing LGBTQ+ community. Going directly to the source, I lined up interviews with two members of the community who have found their ways to succeed.
First, I interviewed my friend, Kyle Howard. They are also known as @Verucassault on Instagram. I asked them for their perspective on several topics as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community and the corporate world. Kyle is a lifelong North Carolinian and known for their compassion and inspiring inclusivity within the community.
I also interviewed Andi, a representative at the LGBT Center of Raleigh, North Carolina. Andi grew up in the Triangle, they lived in Asheville for several years before moving out to Oregon for their Master of Nonprofit Management, and now joins the LGBT Center of Raleigh after fundraising for Seattle’s Planned Parenthood affiliate for the past two years. Andi is excited to support the LGBTQ+ community in this role after finding their way to fundraising through their drag persona, Chartreuse Dynasty O’Hara.
What is the main reason LGBTQ+ people don’t come out in the workplace?
ANDI: For a lot of folks, especially in North Carolina, you don’t have legal protection. You can be fired for your identity. Given the state of employment and being an “at-will” state, individuals within the LGBTIA community can lose the opportunity to fund their life, just for being who they are. Depending on the customers or clientele of the company, individuals might not come out because it is not safe for them. If this comes up with your company’s customers, it is much harder to mediate and deal with. When it’s with a co-worker, at least you can go to Human Resources for help.
KYLE: I grew up in Mount Olive, NC where I worked on a farm with my family. I have always known I am queer and when I turned 18; I moved to Raleigh. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few different work experiences. I moved into the beauty industry while going to school for marketing and felt very welcomed. I love the beauty industry because it is fun, inviting, and I felt very valued. I got to help women feel more empowered through beauty. Makeup for me was very transformative. It was my mask. I felt more confident and comfortable when I did my makeup. I worked for, traveled with and did fashion shows for makeup companies. I always felt really comfortable being out in the workplace because of the environments I was in. People may not want to come out because others may think of them differently. I felt that my individuality was embraced and supported so I was able to be authentic and not judged.
What can organizations do to ensure LGBTQ+ community
members feel included in the workplace?
ANDI: When you have a new hire, a good inclusive practice is to have a clear statement in the employment contract that they will not practice at-will termination. When someone comes out as gay and their boss is homophobic, they can fire you. Have it in an initial employee contract. Any potential fireable offense will have a full discussion. It’s also inclusive to have a user defined field for gender so that the only options aren’t just male and female. It’s also important to normalize having pronouns in email signatures, employee bios and on your zoom account. Having it for everyone helps to normalize it and if someone feels safe enough to transition and come out at work, they can use their updated pronouns. As the world opens up and we’re able to work in offices together, add employee’s pronouns to their name tags throughout the office.
KYLE: It’s difficult because it’s still something that some companies are exploring. For Queer people, you don’t always have to support us but it’s more about understanding. Education is key on how to be respectful of different backgrounds. When I work with other people, I respect their opinions and their values even if they differ with mine. The fear for Queer People is that they fear someone may feel differently toward them after they come out. It is hard to come out for fear of judgement. My hope is that we all continue to understand and accept each other for who we are.
If you could wave a magic wand, what is one thing you
would change in the workplace for the LGBTQ+ community?
ANDI: If I could wave a magic wand, I would say no discrimination for anyone at the workplace. My hope is that no matter what your race or gender, we’re all treated with the same respect as a white cisgender man. The day a black transgender woman has that level of respect will be a good day.
KYLE: I would wish there would be a lot more opportunities for Queer people in the workplace. Workplaces that are accepting, diverse and educate employees are ideal. I hope is for Queer people to speak freely about their partner, just like straight people. If people feel valued and accepted for who they are, they will be amazing at work and want to stay with the company.
I’m thrilled to share Kyle and Andi’s personal stories because they have a perspective that is honest and real. However, I am also very aware it isn’t up to the LGBTQ+ community alone to educate us. If you are on a journey of understanding, these resources may be helpful:
LGBT Center of Raleigh
We Are Everywhere
By Mathew Riemer And Leighton Brown
Have pride in history. A rich and sweeping photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement, from the creators and curators of the massively popular Instagram account LGBT History.
Experience the fascinating and unforgettable, decade-by-decade history of homosexuality in America through eye-opening historical footage and amazing interviews with those who lived through an often brutal closeted history.
We are all different. We come in different packages with different beliefs. However, on the inside, we’re the same. We love, laugh and cry the same.
Writing someone off for the label they carry is not a world I want to exist in. It’s up to all of us to look past the ‘cover of our books’ and look at the human on the inside. I hope that this month we can look around us and celebrate the humanity that is represented in the LGBTQ+ community. They’re humans, giving to our society, hoping to be seen and loved…no matter who they love.