Four Ways to Support the LGBTQ+ Community at Work – and Anywhere Else

Hannah Widera

22 June, 2021

There’s something very powerful about people gathering in one place for the same purpose. Fighting for a shared conviction. Standing up against oppression. To mourn. To love. We’ve seen this in so many marches and movements – be it the BLM Movement, the Women’s March on Washington or Fridays for Future, to name just a few recent ones. But Pride isn’t just about colorful parades, nor can it be called a movement. It’s so much more than that. It’s about acknowledging the fights that so many people fought in the past so that the LGBTQ+ community could get to the point where we are today in terms of equality and tolerance towards all forms of sexual orientation, identities and personal expression. And yet sadly enough, we’re still fighting homophobia, transphobia and biphobia today because, it hasn’t vanished from the world. And the workplace is no exception.

So is a whole month ‘necessary’ to celebrate Pride? YES. And more than a month, it should be a continuous fight until we reach the goal of absolute equality and until we eliminate bias, discrimination, hate crimes and the list goes on. What can all of us do to support the queer community – especially around the workplace, where many of us are still hushing up difficult topics such as discrimination?

1. Acknowledge and accept different realities
The way we see the world highly influences how we will act in it. But none of the different views may claim to be the only right one. Even though most of us would agree with that, it requires a high level of attention to act accordingly in day-to-day situations. It means questioning your own view every day, accepting and comprehending the fact that others may experience very different realities from yours based on their individual experiences and, above all, it means staying open to all other perspectives. Engage in conversation with your office neighbors, fellow colleagues or even strangers. Grab a coffee or a drink at the bar and take that one step towards the other. Ask questions, tell your story and hear theirs. It might be worth it.

2. Same Love, Same Treatment
That being said, don’t make anybody feel different by treating them differently. The same approach applies as before: engage in conversations, ask questions, get used to maybe even feeling uncomfortable in one or the other situation because practice still makes perfect and will broaden your horizons for sure. The goal is equal treatment for everyone, which cannot be reached when we exclude the protagonists from our discussions.

3. Challenge existing corporate regulations
Just because something has always been in a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Laws require adaption as politics and the collective mindset shift, as do corporate laws. It’s ok to question the policies in your work environment and to challenge if they’re doing enough for the community. Is inclusivity part of the company values or just a ‘thing for the outside world to see’? While perhaps not all of these points can directly be answered positively, it’s still crucial to discuss them. And in 2021, everyone should feel comfortable doing so.

4. Ask, Clarify, Apologize
No one is perfect and yes: sexuality, gender and identity politics are sensitive topics. But we don’t make progress unless we question the way we think and talk about them. There’s this great song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert. One line in particular stands out: “Man that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily, we’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’. If the whole debate about whether or not to gender has taught us one thing, it’s that language defines the way we think. And the way we think will define the way we live pretty much (see point 1). If you’re unsure about the proper wording or whether it’s appropriate to say “LQBTQIA“ instead of “LQBTQ+“ in 2021 or even wonder what the difference is – ask! It shows you’re interested and this is all that matters in the end. We’re all learning, every single day – striving for better conditions for everyone.

*Image credit – Yoav Hornung/Unsplash

About the author

Hannah Widera is a Community Manager at Mindspace Hamburg.

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