To be human is a commitment. As people living on this planet, we leave a footprint. Lately, we hear a lot about our carbon footprint, or our digital footprint. But beyond this, we also leave a mark on those we share life with in some way or another: family, co-workers, friends, neighbors and even delivery workers who have become even more essential in the last few months. We don’t always realize this, and we minimize the impact - hopefully positive impact - that we can have on our surroundings. That is what happened to me.
I am Anabell Mora Acevedo, woman, cigender, lesbian...and I have looked to use some of the possible labels related to my gender identiy of sexual orientation because there are times when they are needed to increase visibility and awareness and to be committed. Among other labels, I could also add: migrant, professional, dog-lover, attempt at entrepreneur, and a very long etcetera. But that is not what we are called to amidst these lines of text.
I’ve had the privilege of working for over twelve years…wow, yes! Considering I am just about to turn 30, that seems like a long time. But of that time, I have spent less than a third of it “out of the closet,” at least at my jobs. I’m going to focus on my experience at work because it is without a doubt a key area in our life and one to which we sometimes dedicate more of our time than others.
Putting to one side the initial years during which your sexuality becomes an adventure, sometimes a wonderful one and at others a tortuous one, I’m going to focus on when I found my first real job. A “serious” job, in a tall building in the financial district of my city. I was 100% aware of my sexual orientation, but I was unable to speak about it openly with my coworkers, not even those to whom I was close. It wasn’t until I had left this first job and that I had built up a friendship with some of my coworkers, that I was able to tell them with confidence about the woman who I have the privilege of sharing my life with.
After that first job came another one, in an even taller building. I didn’t say anything there either. By then, I had a big question in my mind. Is it possible that I can omit such an important part of who I am in a space that means so much? The answer was “yes.” From that second job I moved on to a third, where the story repeated itself. The thing is, for several years I faced a recurring fear: my sexuality is going to condition my professional growth. I was terrified that my coworkers or leaders would see me differently or would doubt the talent and skills I had only because when I left the offices every day, he was not waiting for me but rather she was. In a time when you are building the foundation of your professional life, the way people see you matters. How you project yourself, the certainty you transmit, and of course how “normal” you are all matter because based on these things you may or may not have a “great future ahead of you.”
While in the last years there has been increased understanding and demystifying about being diverse, queer, dissident or however you’d like to call it, we still have many gaps to fill and bridges to build. That is why it is vital to increase visibility and talk about these topics in all of their dimensions, within companies and places of work. Regardless of the size of a company, it is a win for them to offer safe spaces and policies that embrace diversity. Today we know for certain that talent does not depend on your sexual orientation or gender identity. Rather, archaic social constructs and low tolerance for diversity are what limit the growth of organizations.
Several years have passed since those first three jobs, and today I am happy to be part of an organization that embraces my diversity and doesn’t make me feel like I “just do my job” but that I contribute directly to building a society that is more diverse, inclusive and competitive and creates opportunities for all people. And even though I am still afraid, not because of where I work, but because of how extremist our society can be, today I am a little less afraid. And today I can speak with #PrideWithoutLimits🏳️🌈 about who I am and about those who surround me.
A few months ago I moved and my new neighbor, a woman who appeared nice enough but also came off as someone who likes to know everything that’s happening around her, asked me: “And the other woman who lives with you? Is she your friend? Your cousin?” My first thought was to respond “It’s none of your business.” But this time, I wanted to make a new commitment to myself and to my surroundings. This time I responded, “No, she’s my girlfriend.”
And even though she smiled, I could see doubt and surprise in her eyes. I could sense her nervousness but I also embraced the conviction I felt, the same conviction that led me to write these lines.