If we don’t talk, how can we understand each other?
When we speak against racism and discrimination people react. Often with messages of support, and sometimes with labels and words of discouragement. Instead of running away from them, the LGBTQI+ community at Microsoft decided to open up and invite all to a dialogue. Because a dialogue can lead to understanding and understanding can lead to change.
What does LGBTQI+ community got to do with the racial justice movement?
“Intersectionality is a thing. Many people are not just black or queer. Coming out as a Black trans man was harder for me than just coming out as a trans person. Even my friends were more worried about me transitioning into a Black man in America than the health issues that I could encounter in the process. Being a Black man puts a target on my back but being a Black man of the trans experience I face double discrimination, and it's not acceptable. We need justice, equity, and equality for all races, genders, sexual orientations, and identities.” – Ethan
Why do you need to come out?
“Coming out is about being true to yourself, and sometimes that truthfulness helps others, too. Growing up, I had completely missed that bisexual people existed and it took a conversation with out family friends to realize that there was a word for me too. Coming out to my family and friends was not difficult, but it did take many conversations, which still happen to this day. Being bisexual I face misconceptions from within and outside the LGBTQI+ community, such that it’s a phase, or as if my identity is defined by the partner I’m with right now. Being out and proud, I hope to dispel these misconceptions and help others be true to themselves too.” – Liz
Why are there so many letters in LGBTQI+ and do they really mean anything?
“I live in Poland and often hear this. Our community spans some of the broadest diversity in the world, and our acronym is no different. As we learn more about one another, this acronym continues to evolve. Behind every letter there’s a person, and an equal right for visibility. An acronym empowers it, and it’s my obligation to be visible, so that younger generations could lead safer and more accepted lives.” - Wojtek
Why do you feel the need to protest?
“Protests happen when all other avenues are exhausted, and there’s simply no other way to get your voice across. The first Pride sparked a revolution which lead to a wave of change. So we need to show up, speak up, to demand and fight for more. In 2020, being an out Korean American transgender immigrant woman is still a radical act of social defiance. But it shouldn’t be. That’s why I protest – for equity for all.” – Sophia
It’s Pride, why do you talk about racism?
“None of the limited freedoms we enjoy would be possible without the Black and Latinx trans people who started Stonewall. Today LGBTQI+ people of color still experience systemic racism and oppression. We must take a stand against this. We must all fight for Black and Brown equity.” – Milton
I don’t care what you do in your private time, just don’t show it in public.
“Being your true self privately and another person publicly doesn’t add up. I had to leave my family, my friends, and a successful career to settle in a foreign land just to be able to live as myself and find a life partner. Most people get to walk down the street with their partners and children, safely and without persecution. We have the right to the same freedom. No one should have to hide who they are and act like someone else. For me, queer means powerful.” – Shilpi
Isn’t it just about putting more labels on people?
“Labels are double-edged swords. I’m a trans man and the amount of work and time it took to be this version of myself makes me proud to finally be me. In that way, label is a powerful instrument for self-advocacy and empowerment. But a large amount of people don’t see past it. I am a trans man, but I am also a father, a husband, a son, a caretaker of five crazy animals, a data technician, a board member of the animal shelter, and so much more. I want you to see me as a person first, but labels often help create that visibility in the first place.” – Clayton
If you were born one way – be that way.
“I grew up outside of the capital of South Africa, Pretoria. Though I was assigned female at birth, I never felt like one, even from my very earliest recollections. I’ve always had a strong sense of being a man even when my body didn’t correspond. It’s confusing, but it’s a very real thing. I was lucky that people around me supported me and always stood by my side. I believe that we are defined by who we are, not who we’re born as. And that’s liberating.” – Lesego
The more we talk, the more we understand
What to do when you face detractors and hurtful comments? LGBTQI+ employees at Microsoft sat down with Dylan Marron of “Conversation with People who Hate Me” to explore how communication can further understanding and lead to change, even when people disagree with you.
I respect your choice.
“My journey as a queer, Muslim woman hasn’t been about choice. Being queer is as much of a choice as being born straight is. I didn’t choose it, but what I do choose is to make a decision on when to engage in dialogue about queerness in communities of color, especially with Muslim folks who think that God would not create someone like me. The way that I approach this dialogue is with empathy, not judgement, and respect for people, beliefs, and experiences that differ from my own.” - Aleenah
Are you a man or a woman?
“I’m nonbinary. Specifically, agender, meaning that I don’t really feel like I have a gender at all – especially not male or female. Binary gender is a construct of our education, advertising, and everything in the society. But I’ve never felt like I wanted to subscribe to it. And even if I did – should it be in the way I spoke, dressed, or behaved? I didn’t want to be confined to a binary. It took years and a supporting community for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, and I hope I can be there to help others feel less alone.” - SG
Why do you need Pride? Straight people don’t have one.
“I’m from Russia and there’s no Pride here. It is very unfortunate, because Pride is about creating visibility and a sense of belonging for those who often don’t have it. It drives attention to the injustices and inequalities and gives hope for a better future. LGBTQI+ people experience at Pride what straight people have every single day. An opportunity to be who you are and not fear repercussion because of that. Everyone is welcome at Pride, and when you stand up for me, march with me - it changes everything.” - Denis