Growing up in the Dallas area suburbs, I was a happy kid. I didn’t face relentless bullying, but as for many of us, there were a few instances I was picked on. But it wasn’t something I was ready to face. I knew I was different from other kids my age. My interests weren’t aligned with all the typical masculine “boy” things like sports and video games. I was a creative kid, who loved to sing, dance, and act. I also was raised in a Protestant Christian church. Although I found it to be a very loving community, there was a clear understanding that marriage was only meant for a man and a woman. I loved my family and community, but for years I wondered how and if I would truly fit in. What would my life look like as an adult? Would I have to change who I was? It was scary and confusing to think about. So, I decided to put it to the side. I wasn’t quite ready to face the truth.
As I grew older and went off to college, started my chapter as a young adult, I began to realize that I could learn to love and accept myself as I am. My prayers changed over the years from asking God to change aspects of my personality and sexuality to asking God to help me become proud of who He made me to be. For all the good and bad that exists in the world, I was grateful to find, consume, and learn from various forms of media – TV, movies, music, and more – where I saw all different types of LGBTQ+ representation. There wasn’t just one way to be a part of the community. I realized that I could and should be accepted and celebrated just as I am without conditions.
Work was also a part of my life that opened my eyes to the beauty of diversity. At AT&T, I built bonds with people I worked with, people from all different walks of life. Everyone had a unique story and various points of view, but we all worked together in harmony toward a common goal. I saw that others were celebrated for expressing themselves in authentic ways. And I knew I could do the same.
I first grew the courage to come out to my family and close friends. Their reaction was just as I expected. I felt loved and celebrated by everyone that was important to me. I knew coming out at work would just be an extension of that. In time I shared my truth with my boss, immediate coworkers, and work friends. It was such a natural thing to do at that point. It got a little easier each time. It’s incumbent on me to acknowledge just how privileged I am. Many other LGBTQ+ individuals must grapple with an unsupportive family or community and make a choice between a relationship with loved ones or living authentically. I’m one of the lucky ones.
LEAGUE at AT&T has been a major blessing. I knew the Employee Group (EG) existed but was quite timid to learn more before I came out at work. One particular program caught my attention. LEAGUE was hosting a virtual panel and series of performances from the stars of the hit HBO competition show Legendary – a competition show between ballroom dance houses, a vital part of the queer community. I was so impressed that LEAGUE saw the importance of ballroom culture and wanted to dive into the challenging conversations of race within the community. It was a real and raw dialogue, and I felt immensely grateful for LEAGUE, who was willing to go there. I knew from that point that I wanted to be involved. I had a work colleague who was in a leadership position, and she quickly embraced me and brought me under her wing. I met new friends and built great relationships. I was elected National Program Director and during my term developed some key virtual programs that focused on a variety of topics including advocacy for the trans and non-binary community, LGBTQ+ healthcare and benefits, interfaith discussions, and more. And we created bridges with other EGs like HACEMOS, The NETwork, and ICAE, as well as fantastic non-profits like The Trevor Project.
I have been able to take my personal story and use it to do good for myself and my community here at AT&T. Not only have I been able to live authentically, but I get to help others to do so as well. Pride means many things to many people. For me, pride is about the history, the present, and the future.
I want to continue to honor, respect, and learn about the generations of LGBTQ+ people who came before me. They fought hard to make life better for us. They were heroes who faced bigotry and backlash. It’s an example of what we must do today to continue to fight for true equity. I want to be present in the moment and celebrate all the beautiful aspects of my life. Life is so short, and we only get one chance to make the most of it. I am so fortunate to have the freedom to celebrate Pride in my own way.
Learn more about the LGBTQ+ Community at AT&T