On June 28th, 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn. At the time, this was a prominent gay establishment amongst the community that had previously suffered harrassment and unlawful arrests from the police. However, something was different this time. Shortly after the raid had begun, bar patrons and members of the neighborhood fought back and a riot broke out that led to six days of protests and violence between the community and police and changed the course of history for the LGBTQIA+ community. Today, we remember this moment and countless others during the month of June that has been dubbed Pride Month. In recognition of the ongoing fight for equal rights and celebration of Pride Month, we Start With Human as we humbly share thoughts and insights from our LGBTQIA+ team members.
What does PRIDE mean to you?
“Pride means living my authentic life and loving all the beautiful intricacies of how everyone else lives their truth as well.” -Kellie Reese, Product Specialist II
“As someone who struggled with my sexuality since I was 13, Pride means a lot to me. I'm Latino and in Latino households there is a lot of stigma around sexuality. This stems from religion as well as the cultural view that father figures in Latino households commonly experience machismo which was true for mine. I would constantly get asked why I would hang around girls while in high school and questioned about my voice. I would always laugh it off and say ‘I'm not gay!’ because I was afraid of getting bullied like some of the other kids who were out did, especially as [an overweight kid.] Since I knew my family's stance on LGBTQIA+, I didn't feel comfortable [coming out to them] until I knew I was out of the house. Even then, once I did [come out], my dad wanted to cut off all communication with me and was furious at my mother for staying in contact with me. She initially didn't understand it and was upset because she thought I couldn't have kids or get married, but overtime she understood having adopted kids or a surrogate is just as [fulfilling] and that gay people can in fact get married. It was a long process but once I was out I was able to be who I truly was and find the love of my life. That's why PRIDE means so much to me. I know so many other kids face the same thing and Pride month gives them at least a hope that there's a chance for them to be themselves.” -Saul Ramirez-Rodriguez, Sr Service Delivery Analyst
“Taking pride in what people want to shame me for.” Cordelia Gregory, QA Engineer
“To me, Pride is freedom. It means I don't have to pretend that I'm something that I'm not.” Felix Hu, Senior Manager of UX
What has been the most pivotal moment in your journey that helped shape the person you are today?
“Federal legalization of gay marriage one month after I got married.” -Kellie Reese, Product Specialist II
“I believe that finding love as a gay man was the most pivotal moment for me because my love was so strong that I didn't care who stood in my way. I used to be so afraid to even show any signs of me being gay while out in public. Once I found the love of my life, I was able to not only kiss in public but hold hands in public no matter what. I felt that took my confidence and sexuality to a whole other level and really showed me that I don't care who sees. Love is love.” -Saul Ramirez-Rodriguez, Sr Service Delivery Analyst
“In 2002 during the first week of my freshman year at Georgia Tech, I took a risk and came out to the entire floor of my college dorm. We were trading notes on how our first week went, and someone lamented that they suspected someone on the floor was gay. ‘Hey guys... I'm... gay.’ What was I thinking?! The room went silent for what felt like an eternity, but Stan, a military veteran, immediately stood up for me and applauded my honesty and bravery in that moment. He shared a story about regret and trust lost from an old friend who never did come out to him. For me, he helped to create a positive, inclusive environment where had he not been there, it could have been extremely awkward and uncomfortable for a whole year. People respected him, so with his support, people respected me. You could say that for that floor at Freeman dorm, they met their first gay man and learned how to be inclusive, but I also learned a huge lesson- that people are not inherently prejudiced or bigoted, and even if they are, strong leadership and character is hugely impactful. We can all lead by example.” -Felix Hu, Senior Manager of UX
How does Calendly foster community to ensure your comfort and safety in a remote-first world?
“I love the Queerendly Slack channel where we grow an online community for the LGBTQIA+ folx at Calendly.” -Kellie Reese, Product Specialist II
Everyone at Calendly has been so welcoming and we are always celebrating everyone's achievements whether, promotions, birthdays, or new hires. There is a big sense of family here at Calendly and that's one of the things I love coming from a larger company where it can be harder to be seen. In my previous employer we had a Pride employee resource group to join so I'm excited to hopefully see one being launched soon and hopefully Calendly Pride themed clothing to celebrate Pride Month. -Saul Ramirez-Rodriguez, Sr Service Delivery Analyst
“The queer community within Calendly is great! [We are able to] share ideas and our experiences.”
- Cordelia Gregory, QA Engineer
“I think we have a very inclusive environment but we can always do more! Would love to see more ways we can support our trans/nonbinary friends and community.” -Felix Hu, Senior Manager of UX
Advice for someone who is second-guessing finally coming out?
“Take your time! When you're ready, you'll know. And the ones who love you the most sincerely will only love you more!” -Kellie Reese, Product Specialist II
“One of my biggest fears of coming out was losing people close to me but in reality your true family is the people who stand by you no matter what. I received an immense amount of support from my family besides my parents, but they came around. This isn't the case for everyone but just know some people may just need time.” -Saul Ramirez-Rodriguez, Sr Service Delivery Analyst
“First above all to thine own self be true.” - Cordelia Gregory, QA Engineer
“Everyone has a different situation so I wouldn't say there's a single approach, but I think finding someone to talk about it with does help. That first person doesn't necessarily have to be someone close, but probably someone you respect or trust.” -Felix Hu, Senior Manager of UX
Any other nuggets of wisdom or revelations?
“20 years ago I couldn't have imagined working in a tech environment where it's not only commonplace, but actually supported, to be who I really am.” -Kellie Reese, Product Specialist II
“Becoming unapologetically you is an incredible journey that allows you to live more freely and fully. When you release the weight of people and their opinions off your shoulders, you begin to live your life differently and it feels liberating.” -Saul Ramirez-Rodriguez, Sr Service Delivery Analyst