In the context of Pride Month, we had some thoughts about what content we should post on behalf of our workspace. At Capicua, we always bet on inclusivity and diversity, both professionally and personally, for all our teammates and collaborators. Of course, we're aware that there are some standard practices for ventures during this month. Some of these enclose adding a rainbowed-color version of businesses' logos on social media. But then we began to think deeper. Whose voices are being heard with these generic choices?
As for 2022, we have over 100 teammates in over eight countries across continents. Despite our different cultures or backgrounds, we know some things can deeply unite us. And we're sure that love and pride are on that list. Due to it, we took this opportunity to amplify our LGBT+ teammates' voices. To guarantee respect and privacy, we approached this instance in two ways. While we provide direct contact methods, we also offer anonymous forms. Within this, we communicated this project through general workspace channels. Our choice relied upon the idea of not forcing anyone out of any closet. There were some guideline questions in our form, but none was mandatory. It was our way of providing some entry points to a sensitive topic. Yet, it's important to highlight that all authors gave explicit publishing permission.
While our goal while briefing was to focus on workspaces, we knew experiences were more extensive than that. Thus, we'd like to present these testimonies without any editorial edition. These are the voices of our LGBT+ team members—their stories, thoughts, and feelings. We'd like to highlight those voices to respect the history that led us to this day.
What Does "Pride" Mean to Me?
I want to focus on the question, “what does pride mean to me.” It’s something that’s meant a lot, even before I realized I was part of that community. I believe in equality for all, from women to people from all races. And, of course, that includes the LGBT community. It’s simple, we’re all people, and that’s where pride comes from. To feel pride in oneself, no matter who you are, no matter what you identify and who you like. In my case, I’m bisexual and came out about 6 or 7 years ago. The term “came out” seems a little strange to me because it wasn’t a big announcement. I’ve known my orientation since I was 15, but I started being open about it when I was around 21. Now, being with a woman, I think it’s become more “known,” but to me, it’s people who like people. Period. No big deal.
Challenges? Fortunately for me, my family didn't have a problem with it. Some friends (who clearly aren't anymore) did, but that's not my problem. And today, I'm happy with who I am, being open about it, and don't feel I have anything to hide. The biggest thing for me today is seeing how even though it's 2022, people are more appalled by two women holding hands or two men giving each other a peck on the mouth than by "hetero" couples with explicit PDA. Hopefully, that changes, and until then, we'll hold our flags up high and continue to fight for equality and love for all.
— Yoselin, Project Manager.
To Queer or Not To Queer: The Daily Question at the Workplace
Some days ago, I read someone on LinkedIn talking about how "being LGBTQ+ meant constantly self-editing and daily decisions on whether to out oneself, which can be hugely draining and demeaning." That sentence instantly clicked with me, but it made me think especially about the work environment. I vividly remember how under the radar I was at one of my first jobs. Still, not because I was timid or introverted… well, sometimes I am, but that's not the case. I was like that mainly because I felt it was better if nobody knew much about me, especially my sexuality.
It's pretty well-known that the IT industry is a boy's club. And even though I'm a boy, I had a hard time fitting in because this boy's club is specially made up of patriarchal heteronormativity… at its finest. I was constantly aware that the doors to this club were open for me as long as I kept my work heterosexual persona. I was constantly reminded of that: jokes about trans people in the kitchen, calling the fa-word to another company member, creating chat groups only to talk about the company's women's bodies (yeah, a lot of free time between projects on this job). This memory just came back to me of being at an after-work gathering at a pub, and one long-bearded, not so loved by me teammate looking at a gay couple walk by past us and saying, "ugh, I respect them, but why do they have to be like this in public." If I had a time machine, I'd love to answer him, "you mean why do they have to exist? I wonder the same about you, dear," and slowly sipping my blueberry-flavored gin tonic.
If I had kept a notebook of reasons not to come out at that job, I'm sure I'd be able to have at least one entry per day. Damn, I could have even made that journal into a "Toxic masculinity at the workplace" essay and become a well-known field researcher on feminism and queer theory. Can you imagine the headlines? "Gay man endures years of homophobia to research microaggressions; buy now at $9.99 with an autograph and gel glitter for free!". And if a handsome gay white man (had to throw it in there) goes through this, I can't even imagine the hell it must be for women, trans, black people, and a lot of minorities who have an even harder time down the white-cis-patriarchy-filled road. So many detours, sorry!
I want to say with all of this: be f****** nice people. We’ve heard it over and over again; be kind in the workplace, be mindful and respectful, check the words you use, learn about micro-aggressions, host feminist workshops, don’t gift flowers on March 8, and please, please don’t just paint your logo with the rainbow colors on June. And if you’ve never heard of this, I hope this is the chance you do, and I’ll kindly invite you to Google all of that.
At the end of the day, now that I can say that I’m very comfortable being myself at my job. I can tell it all comes down to kindness, empathy, and equality. Gosh, I sound like a Care Bear. But it’s true. I enjoy the privilege of a team where I’ve never heard anyone judging others on their appearance, half of them are women, and we blast Madonna’s greatest hits once a week. And I owe this confidence to be me to the people that surround me at my job… and, of course, self-growth, therapy.
Now, for all the LGBTQ+ professionals out there: if you see someone struggling to be comfy at your workplace, reach out your hand and make them know they’re not alone. Go ahead and launch that “Girls and Queers Watch” at your job, and let’s all cross our fingers not to get fired. To those in leadership positions, try being a little bit unapologetically queer so those who are afraid to show their true colors see they can do that while becoming a leader. And if you hear a transphobic joke, put your poker face on, look at the self-pronounced comedian up and down (a la Devil wears Prada), and sashay away, leaving a trace of obvious superiority. As many paved the way for us to be where we are, now it’s our time to keep doing it, opening doors, making space, and being loud in a world where some people still refuse to let us live and love.
The future needs to be queerer. — Facundo, UX Lead.
When it's the right time to say it, you'll just know it.
Would you like to share an experience you've had while working in the IT Industry?
About five years ago, we were having one of those team-building events at another company. People were opening up, talking about real-life stuff; for some reason, I just couldn't say, "I'm bi." It didn't feel like the right circle of people back then. Five years later, it just felt like the right place and moment to say it.
What do you think are some challenges for the LGBT+ community in the IT Industry?
I think the biggest challenge in any industry is just saying it out loud. Depending on the company you're working at, you might get people to look at you differently, or you might not. The Software Industry has a lot of fresh blood, so we have it slightly easier. Unless you're doing Software for a 200-year-old company, but no one likes to do that anyway, so it's cool.
Is there any advice/thought you'd like to share with fellow LGBT+ colleagues there?
I think that when it's the right time to say it, you'll know it. Don't force it, though. I've never met a straight guy going, "Hello everyone, my name is X, I'm straight, nice to meet you all." Also, pronouns and genders can be complex and sensitive topics sometimes. So I think it's better not to categorize people by male/female or cis/trans. Smash/pass is so much easier lol, don't necessarily tell them, though. It can get awkward.
Use this box to express your thoughts and feelings regardless of previous questions!
I really like that we're not just changing a few colors on the logo to follow the trend and be like, "yay, we're part of it" for a month. We're actually being asked questions, talking to each other, and sharing experiences. It feels really good to have a place where you can be open about this kind of thing. So, thanks for asking those questions.
— Franco, Software Architect.
Happy Pride, my Dear Disruptive Siblings!
I want to start by stating that it's the first time in my 30 years of service to this world that the company I'm working for gets involved in celebrating the LGBTQA+ community, and I couldn't be more grateful. We already know that the IT world is unbalanced regarding gender equality. It's a predominantly male environment, but let's go even further: it is a predominantly CIS-male environment. Trans and non-binary people often see no representation in many businesses. They don't have access to the same opportunities. They are not seen. Feeling seen is something that many of us take for granted, but there are people still struggling to get society to notice they exist just as they are.
What we don't talk about, celebrate, and spotlight becomes invisible. I don't want ANY of my tribe members to be invisible because we ALL exist, and our colors are beautiful. Especially today, when throughout the world, a lot of our basic Human Rights are being neglected (or directly taken away), it’s important we acknowledge this: We are here. We have always been. We are not going anywhere. AND WE WILL ALWAYS EXIST. To all my gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary, and more siblings: I’m proud of you, just existing. Let’s keep fighting, as this is OUR world as well. To all allies, thank you for understanding that this matter involves us all. Lastly, thank you, Capicua, for encouraging this instance of acknowledgment and celebration. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤎🖤
— Leandro, QA Analyst.