Happy Pride Month to my fellow LGBTQIA+ folk! We’ve finally reached the queerest month in 2021, so let’s make it the gayest yet. Be loud and proud, because this is exactly what generations of queer folk before us have fought for. You have every right to exhibit your sexuality and gender identity however you choose, as long as it’s not hurting anyone!
For those who aren’t in the know and were incredibly confused by the acronym I just used (and are still reading, props to you) here’s a breakdown:
L – Lesbian
G – Gay
B – Bisexual/Biromantic
T – Trans
Q – Queer/Questioning
I – Intersex
A – Asexual/Aromantic
And the plus is for people who fall under the queer umbrella but use other labels. The LGBTQIA+ space is one of inclusion, safety and representation.
Over here at Steamed Egg, we’re a young, diverse, vibrant team. We believe in creating a better workplace for everyone. We support mental wellness, inclusivity and openness in modern teams. For pride month, we thought it would be a great idea to share the ways in which people can make their work environments more inclusive to the queer folk in them.
#1 – Normalise asking and sharing pronouns
As someone who identifies as non-binary and has only recently started using neutral pronouns (they/them), I’ve had to get used to coming out to people all over again. It was a whole lot easier coming out as bisexual when I was 14.
When I started this role, I was too awkward to come out. I’m a notorious overthinker. I have my own complexities with my gender identity and often feel like I’m asking too much of people to adapt to my pronouns. When I eventually came out and started including my pronouns in my Slack name, e-mails and LinkedIn, other people in the team followed suit. I knew I’d made the right choice by coming out and was excited to be part of a team that embraced diversity so eagerly.
It’s such a simple way to show your gender inclusivity to clients, future hires or possible prospects. Ask for pronouns at the top of meetings with people you haven’t talked to before. Remove that blockade for people who fall under the trans umbrella and show them they’re welcome in your company.
#2 – Don’t assume people have or want partners
A common topic of conversation at work often involves spouses or partners. If people feel comfortable talking about their significant other, they will usually do so. The ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ is a relatively new addition for some people. Many people didn’t know asexual/aromantic people existed until very recently and many others still won’t know what it means.
Don’t pry about people’s romantic relationships or love lives. If people don’t want to talk about their partners or come out about their sexuality, they shouldn’t be made to. If someone isn’t into having those kinds of relationships, don’t give them unsolicited ‘advice’ or attempt to ‘fix’ it. People know what they want and creating an open, inclusive environment is about taking everyone into account.
#3 – Try to abolish heteronormative behaviours
You’d be surprised at how ingrained into our culture these behaviours are. Even us queer folk are subject to it, it’s a tricky trap to break out of. Heteronormativity is used to categorise behaviours that imply that being straight and cisgender is ‘normal’.
One of the most common ways this happens is by saying stuff like “she or he” or “him or her” when referring to someone of an unknown gender. Instead, use “they”. It’s quicker, much more inclusive and, is in fact, one of the correct uses of the word. Using exclusively gendered language, even when a gender is unknown, is a by-product of a society that has had restrictive gender standards for far too long. Making our speech more inclusive helps build bridges to the queer people in our lives.
There are a lot of ways in our everyday lives that we enable this rhetoric. One of the many ways that people do this is by assuming someone is straight unless stated otherwise. This is becoming less common these days, but it’s certainly happened to me. This happens a lot if queer people are in straight-presenting relationships. Don’t assume they’re straight unless they expressly say otherwise. Many bisexual and trans people are in relationships that may appear straight, but they still count as queer relationships, even if only one of the people in it is queer.
Break out of the bubble of heteronormativity and embrace casual queer inclusion.
#4 – Educate your teams on current LGBTQIA+ issues and queer history
Pride month is the perfect time to shine a light on the queer members of your team. If they’re willing to, let them guide the conversations about what topics to cover. Encourage everyone to participate, to share thoughts and facts. Queer people have only come as far as they have thanks to the allies who have fought alongside them. Continue that strong allyship through education, consuming queer entertainment, and giving a platform to the LGBTQIA+ folk in your team.
Over here at Steamed Egg, we’re celebrating pride month by sharing entertainment from queer creators and/or fictious work with queer characters. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, take this month to educate yourself with the vibrantly queer collection of film, TV, music, books and art. Share what you’ve learnt with your team and make recommendations to each other.
#5 – Stand up for your queer teammates
If you think someone is being mistreated because of their sexuality or gender, speak up. Most queer people have gone through life experiencing this in one way or another, and many of us just tune it out. If you notice something that seems homophobic, biphobic, transphobic or queerphobic in nature, then confront that person. Attempt to understand and reason with them. Approaching these situations with volatility and anger will only do more harm than good.
You can further support your trans teammates by correcting people if they get their pronouns wrong. It’s as simple as saying “Saf uses they/them pronouns,” and then swiftly moving on. If you catch yourself accidentally using the wrong pronouns, apologise, correct yourself and continue what you were saying. Most trans people will be okay with this and are typically understanding. In fact, most of us probably misgendered ourselves when we first came out. As long as you acknowledge your mistake and move on, it’s no harm, no foul.
These lifestyle changes aren’t just for pride month, either. These are ways for us to be better and create more inclusive, open environments in the workplace. If everyone feels comfortable and happy then you’ll undoubtedly see a boost to team morale. People who feel like they belong in their community at work are more likely to enjoy their job and stick around. Pride month is the perfect opportunity to remind your LGBTQIA+ team members that you see them, and you care about them.
Now, get out there and express your queerness/allyship loud, proud and unapologetically!