As part of our celebration of PRIDE month, OpenSesame is bringing you voices from our LGBTQIA+ colleagues to champion diversity, inclusion, and share resources that support the greater LGBTQIA+ community.
Holidays serve as markers of the progress of the year and the passage of time, and we’ve all struggled during the pandemic to keep up traditions and find safe ways to celebrate with our family and friends. Celebrating Pride Month is no exception, and community-specific holidays feel especially precious after a year and a half of physical separation.
In years past, the LGBTQIA+ community at OpenSesame centered around a private Slack channel, which was an invite-only group that one might not know about unless they came out to a coworker. We hung up rainbow flags in the office windows and a few of us went out to lunch together, but that was the extent of it. Little did we know that the recent pandemic hardships would bring our community closer together. It felt especially important during Pride 2021 to find ways to connect with each other, to celebrate our community, to increase awareness and knowledge among our allies, and to bring everyone in the workplace closer in order to build and maintain a culture of belonging.
As someone who is comfortably gender non-conforming but very ambivalent about how I’m perceived by others, I didn’t realize the opportunities I have to be a better representative of gender diversity. Recently, Deanna Cor, a Portland State University Professor and licensed counselor focused on the LGBTQIA+ community, led an informative and compassionate talk for OpenSesame employees around gender identity, discussing how gender is rooted in our society from early childhood, providing context from both her academic work as well as her personal experience as a queer parent of young children. We had an interesting dialogue around the various terminologies used to discuss gender, especially outside of the male/female binary, and then closed out with a thought-provoking question and answer session.
The questions and perspectives of cis-gender (people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth) allies during our discussion gave me a new perspective on how I can be a better representative of gender diversity. While most gender diverse and trans folks have strong feelings about pronouns and the terms used to describe their gender, I’ve always been an “all of the above” person – both in how I describe my own gender as well as the genders of people I’ve dated in the past.
But being silent on the topic – unless directly asked – means that I can pass as a cis-gendered and heterosexual tomboy, but that isn’t being true to my identity and robs me of the opportunity to set an example for other people who identify similarly, but aren’t sure about being out at work. I have the huge privilege of having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where sexual and gender diversity were positively represented all around me, and I had the support of a mother who, despite being otherwise socially conservative, also bucked gender roles and was happy for me to do the same.
I am truly so happy to have landed at a workplace where I can be my authentic self, not just in the presence of other members of the LGBTQIA+ community, but with my cis-gendered, heterosexual coworkers as well. The curiosity and support of allies at OpenSesame, especially during Pride 2021, has been amazing, and our guided conversation with Professor Deanna Cor really brought this point home to my heart. As Pride Month comes to a close, there continue to be opportunities for self-exploration, learning, and conversations to encourage understanding.
If you’re looking to start a conversation at your own workplace, I recommend starting with TED’s course “The danger of hiding who you are | Morgana Bailey,” available as part of the OpenSesame Plus library. Following Morgana Bailey’s talk, the course includes questions for personal reflection and group discussion to get the conversation started on how we all can bring our authentic selves to work and celebrate one another’s unique experiences and identities.
Support Pride Month with our LGBTQIA+ focused courses
For ideas on how to support your co-workers and assess, accelerate, and amplify your DEI programs and initiatives, visit our array of LGBTQIA+ focused courses that help you on your company’s inclusive journey. From foundation principles, to specifics about gender identity and sexual orientation, OpenSesame has resources that help you support your LGBTQIA+ employees and the greater LGBTQIA+ community.
About the Author: Jenny Mundy is the Catalog Manager for OpenSesame, working to ensure that our library of over 20,000 courses is up-to-date and easy to search. Besides nerding out on metadata and building insightful data visualizations, you’ll find Jenny out in the garden, practicing deadlifts, or nose deep in a book.