TheyThem Pride

Does Pride Need to Be Part of Corporate Culture?

June 1, 2024
Brian Nye, VP of Service Delivery

Every year June rolls around and corporations become much more colorful and critics become more critical. Each year I am asked the question, "Does Pride Month need to be a part of Corporate Culture?"

I believe that I get asked this because while I am an out gay man in corporate America, I am also a rational person who thoughtfully thinks through questions to give my honest opinion. I will also say that it is not always this exact question but it always has to deal with who you sleep with and doing business shouldn't mix, right? And if you want to follow that logic, I agree. But if it were that simple, this world would be a great place to live and this article would be really short, so let's dig in.

First, Let's Quickly Remember Why Pride Month Exists 

Pride Month is to commemorate and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, its history, and its ongoing struggle for equality and acceptance. It originated from the Stonewall riots in June 1969, when LGBTQ+ individuals protested against police harassment and discrimination in New York City. Since then, Pride Month has grown into an annual observance globally, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, visibility, and pride in one's identity. It serves as a reminder of the progress made and the work still needed to achieve full equality and acceptance for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

Now Let's Talk About Something That Doesn't Get Enough Attention, "Heteronormativity" 

Heteronormativity refers to the assumption that heterosexuality is the default, normal, or preferred sexual orientation and that relationships and societal norms should align with this assumption. It's a social construct that reinforces the idea that being heterosexual is the normative and expected way of being, often marginalizing or stigmatizing non-heterosexual identities and relationships. 

Heteronormativity can manifest in various ways, such as, in laws, policies, media representations, and everyday interactions, where non-heterosexual identities may be overlooked, invalidated, or treated as abnormal. This is where being a member of the LGBTQ+ community feels oppressive for something that is a part of ourselves. 

For many years I was not out to my family and before Praecipio, I was never out to my coworkers. Why? The LGBTQ+ community was not a part of the culture of my hometown or my places of work and heteronormativity was rampant. It was not an accepting environment for members of the LGBTQ+ community and those that were out had some not-so-kind things said behind their backs.

So for me, I had to think about my word choices, body movements, and any other thing that could be seen as anything other than "straight".

To give you an example of what it feels like to have to stop and adjust everything that you say and how you move in the world, try this. The next time you go into a casual conversation, refer to yourself in the third person at all times and take a bow. You would look crazy, but this is what it felt like in my daily life when people would ask me questions and I would have to flip pronouns or think-through actions to present as "straight" so I wouldn't have to be treated as "less than". 

Let’s Use An Example From Popular Culture

I want to draw a parallel that I found from the X-Men: First Class movie that I connected well with my experience. Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawerence) is a shape-shifting mutant whose natural form is a vibrant blue-skinned humanoid who often uses a "pretty blond girl" appearance to "look normal". In one scene, she is struggling to lift weights in her blond girl form when Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender) enters the room and suspends the weights over her head, and says "If you’re using half your concentration to look normal then you’re only half paying attention to whatever else you’re doing. Just pointing out something that could save your life. You want society to accept you but you can’t even accept yourself." He drops the weight and she transforms in an instant -- easily catching the weight because she has superhuman strength in her natural form, her "full potential."

So…Does Pride Need to Be Part of Corporate Culture? 

This brings us back to our question, does Pride need to be part of Corporate Culture? 

Does Pride need to be a part of Corporate Culture? If you want people to perform at their full potential, the answer is yes.

I know that I could have been so much more if I didn't have to think about how I presented myself so I didn't "slip up". I remember those days being so exhausting because I wanted to share and be a part of the team but I could never bring my full self to work. 

Here Are a Few Things You Can Do as an Ally That Can Make a Difference

 I would challenge you to do it beyond the month of June, and do something every month.

  • Display your pronouns - when you do it, it demonstrates you are an ally and you understand that you are open to learn what others would prefer.
  • If you are getting to know a new person and want to know if they have a special someone, you can ask if they have a significant other or partner rather than assume a husband or wife.
  • Don't make assumptions, some gay men love sports and hate shopping. Some lesbians love to wear makeup and do not wear flannel all the time. We are all individuals, get to know us.
  • My last point is if you don't agree with our lifestyle, that is your right to do so. But please do not take our rights to live our lives the way we want, if the tables were turned I'm sure you would want the same. 
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