It began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. Called the Stonewall Riots, these were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against a police raid. Many consider this date to be the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement and this is the reason why the rainbow is donned in June. As we at Amazon India celebrate diversity and inclusion, we still have a lot to learn from one another. Let’s make June a month for meaningful conversations about identity. Let’s become sensitive. Let’s learn. Read on about an Amazonian's experience on coming out :
“Often, what I worry about is how people are going to treat me. Would it be any different than before? ”
Coming out moments
No matter what, coming out has always been difficult. First, friends and then parents, the journey of “coming out” is the same. The moment you utter the words “I’m gay” a shiver runs through your veins, the heart beats in anxiety and fear takes over the mind. And trust me, I’ve had a lot of my coming out moments and every time it feels the same. Often, what I worry about is how people are going to treat me. Would it be any different than before? Will it affect my career? And multiple thoughts like these flood the mind. However, working at Amazon with the support of my colleagues and my managers has made me what I am. Being a member of LGBTQ was never an obstacle and I am that sure that when given a growth opportunity, my sexuality would not even be one of the thoughts that would cross my managers’ mind. You see, if they are asked to write adjectives/qualities for me, ‘gay’ wouldn’t be one of those, 'cause I’m much more than that. We all are. And inclusion of everyone without thinking about the gender/sexuality/caste and creed is what makes Amazon it is!
- Pratik Sirsat
Things aren't as black and white
When it comes to being "in" or "out of" the closet at work, things aren't as black and white as you may think.
It's super scary, because the world is still sadly, but decidedly, a heteronormative place. Bathroom genders are still binary, gay marriage is still up for debate. Out of the conscious hours in a daily human life, the majority of it is spent in the Office, so even a hit of discomfort would have a direct impact on the ability to deliver. So, there are apprehensions of how people - especially your team- will respond; 'Will they support me? Will they be disappointed?'
“The isolated corners back from high school turned into crazy chats (at Amazon), where people wanted to know and accept me as an individual; beyond the myopic vision of dressing. ”
Before I joined Amazon, the ideas on diversity and inclusion sounded truly bookish and a far fetched comfort for me. Even after reading the mail from the HR, I was skeptical. Tolerance can be enforced with rules and regulations, but acceptance comes only with mindset and that is where Amazon works; driving the mindset. Being flamboyant and effeminate has always subjected me to taunts or comments back in high school or college, but the journey changed its track here in Amazon. Instead of people questioning on what I am wearing, it changed to me sharing quick tips with them. The isolated corners back from high school turned into crazy chats, where people wanted to know and accept me as an individual; beyond the myopic vision of dressing.
I feel, it is not only about the individuals in the team, but also the way the management drives the initiative in getting people coming from various background with no exposure to the concept LGBTQ to a scale where it is, they tend to look at things beyond the basic vision. My colleagues have become great friends and have encouraged me to come out to a few friends and family, which I am now doing slowly and I feel like me now, instead of hiding who I am. I owe a lot to the current organization I work for.
- Sombit Naskar