We’ve come a long way in showing optical support of our LGBTQ+ friends, families, and colleagues. Rewind just ten years, and Pride Month went largely unheard and unseen. Now, thanks in part to the proliferation of social media, rainbows are everywhere. That’s something to be excited about, but the question is, “what comes next?”
You hear it all the time — Allyship is a journey, not a destination. Well, this past year, I picked up the pace and put in some serious miles! Since June is Pride Month, I wanted to share a little about my story, hoping that it inspires others to identify their next step and keep moving forward, too.
I’ve considered myself an ally of the LGBTQ+ community for a long time — even before Ellen DeGeneres came out (that was 1997, and Ellen was a U.S. comedic actress starring in an eponymous network television show, in which her character announced that she is gay if you’re curious). Until recently, my allyship took the form of little things like correcting people who said “that’s so gay” or passing out information on being an ally at work in support of National Coming Out Day in October. I was vocal enough that people knew I was a safe space for my LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues to turn to when they needed someone to listen. It wasn’t quite “passive allyship,” but it wasn’t all that my friends in the LGBTQ+ community deserved either. Honestly, I was naïve enough to think we were farther along with equality than we really are. I mean, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states — the work is done. Right? Spoiler alert — wrong.
Fast forward a bit — someone close to me came out, and someone else close to me couldn’t accept it. One person’s bravery in sharing their identity was another person’s “Oh, it’s just a phase.” That made me realize that we aren’t quite as “equal” as I thought we were. In fact, recent CDC data shows that 43% of transgender youth experienced bullying on school property. Tragically, 29% of transgender youth, 21% of gay and lesbian youth, and 22% of bisexual youth have attempted suicide. As long as statistics like those exist, I believe I need to be a more active ally.
I realized silent agreement with sentiments like “Love is Love” isn’t enough if those opposed to equality are willing to stay persistent in passing exclusionary laws. Inaction, by its very nature, doesn’t create change.
Now I’m a “straight, cisgender woman who uses she/her pronouns” on a mission. That mission is education and awareness — everything from terminology to statistics to attempting to open people’s eyes to where inequality still exists. I’m part of the leadership team of NTT DATA’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, PRIDE, and try to use that platform wherever possible to encourage all of us to be a little smarter and more compassionate. When we seek to understand someone else truly — how could we not want equality for them?
In the spirit of “getting smarter,” here are some resources that I personally found helpful.
- Struggling to understand why sharing your pronouns is important? You could try watching this.
- Did you have to google “cisgender?” Thank you for looking up a term you didn’t recognize! You might also spend a minute with the Genderbread Person. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
- If you want to get insight into the world of a transgender person, you might subscribe to this YouTube channel.
- The Safe Zone Project has some great examples of gender-inclusive language.
None of us are perfect. I still sometimes find myself saying “you guys” when I know it makes my non-binary and female colleagues want to twitch. All I can do is try to be a little bit better at being an ally every day.
It doesn’t matter where you are on your allyship journey — walking around the block or completing your latest marathon — what matters is that you commit to staying the course.
I thank all who endeavor to be on the journey with me. I encourage others who have yet to start to lace up their shoes and join us.
Read more about NTT DATA’s commitment to gender diversity and inclusion:
Chasing Rainbows, by Tim Conway, Executive Vice President & Group President of Public Sector at NTT DATA Services
NTT DATA, Intel, Snap Inc., Nasdaq and Dell launch alliance with index survey as benchmarking tool