Dear readers, community members, allies and friends…
…here is my new article for our “RAHM Insights”!
Based on my last article, where I discussed the PROs and CONs of being visual in social media, make yourself vulnerable by sharing personal information at the working place and beyond and the risk of being faced with hate speech and shit-storm messages, I want to share with you a personal story to start the new one.
A few weeks ago, a dear colleague and very active LGBTIQ+ community content author reached out to me to ask for my opinion and to get help with a special situation. He published an article focusing on Data of advertisement of products related to a LGBTIQ+ friendly background, which showed that these products have a higher acceptance by the non-queer customers than products where this is not highlighted. Beside the fact that you can generally argue this kind of product advertisement using peer group centralism, in this case LGBTIQ+, it was an article which just shared this data. The article also brought up the discussion, if LGBTIQ+ friendly focus is misused as a kind of pink-washing, not really supporting LGBTIQ+ content or a proper diversity understanding. These are the facts- now over to the reactions received…
My friend asked me to look at the comment sections, where I could see a lot of hate speech, homo- and queer-hostile messages, and accusations to the author. I was shocked by reading such things as “I hope this shit ends soon” or “we don´t need diversity” or “hopefully this bad trend of LGBTIQ propaganda is over soon” (note from my side- comments have been translated from German). After 10 minutes of reading shocking comments, I stopped and took a break. My first reaction was, I can´t believe that these messages are sent on a business platform in a language that is neither valuable nor respectful. I neither could understand that these comments partly came from people in leadership positions and even HR functions with their full name and company displayed (by the way I hope their employers do read their comments and react properly).
To be honest, I was very disappointed and devastated to see these reactions, but then I encouraged myself not to focus only on those comments. This is a common mistake we do every day- we give the negative things to much of the stage, although there is more than that. Therefore, I skipped the negative comments and looked at the other ones. Then the smile came back onto my face. A lot of people reacted in a way that was very supporting. A lot of the positive comments was very supportive to the author, encouraging him, that his work in general is of a high value for diversity. They also fought the negative comments by making their author think about of their comments, as in contrast to the initial article, those were not based on data. They helped the author not being faced alone with the negative comments and stood up for him. I was very pleased to be part here because I like this spirit. It is easy to accuse, but it is hard to stand up, be loud and to stay united- but that’s what they did!
Why do I share this story? Because it is a good link between my last article and will lead me to the focus topic of my new article- “Finding your place”! As we all know. Being part of the queer community comes with some challenges. I don’t want to talk about “Coming Out” again- as this is very individual and there is no clear “Yes, you should definitely do” or “No, think of the consequences first” advice you can give- because from the outside you only know one little part of the whole story. I would rather talk about “finding your place” which is a big part of this individual personality and identity. If you look back on adolescence most kids are struggling with the process of growing up and finding their individual identity. Its hard enough to find out what you like or disklike, which direction to go and what is good for yourself and what risks you want to take. In case of queer people, the pressure rises, as we all know, belonging to a minor group in society comes with challenges. It is up to everybody individually, if you want to be visible or not if you want to loud or more in the background if you want to share your thoughts or not.
If you decide to be visible, being out- there comes the next challenge. Where is my place in the community? The queer community is a colourful and diverse as it should be- in the beginning it can be overwhelming. From my perspective it can be helpful to speak with a known queer friend about this and get access to a network time after time. Networking is one key factor to learn from each other. There are a lot of different diversity and LGBTIQ+ related networks, for example on LinkedIn or other social media channels. We all have fascinating individual life stories to share, and we should do though, as this makes us unique but also brings us together, as many people have the same fears or challenges and might be very happy to hear that they are not alone with that.
This is also one of the main reasons I became part of the RAHM community. I came up to this group via LinkedIn and first posts. IN the RAHM community I was able to connect to very ambitious and successful leaders with LGBTIQ+ focus all over the world and beyond business areas. I am now writing these article series, took part in a panel discussion last year and I am part of the RAHM leadership council, which is intended to strengthen LGBTIQ+ leadership.
Even in those groups you can find your place- you can be creative; you can be a speaker or a writer. You can organize and coordinate events more from the backstage or be on stage and you can just watch and take your personal learnings if that’s what you need. The most important thing here is the freedom of choice- nobody should ever be forced to “come out”, neither should anybody be forced to be in a role he is not comfortable in.
We all perform best in an environment that gives us this freedom of choice and the freedom of speech, of course, which brings me back to the start of my article. I repeat my statement: “We can argue, we can be in different positions, we don´t need to have the same ideas- but we need to respectful in al we do!”
In this month the IDAHOBIT (International Day against homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia) is part of our calendar- one remark to think about the dark sites of belonging to the LGBTIQ+ community and a moment to think about people suffering from any violence and hate, physical and psychological, just for being who they are!!! This reminds us that we still have a way to go to realize this diverse world of freedom of speech and choice for everybody- as we all deserve it! Therefore, it is necessary to stay loud and being visible and if that’s part your personality please join as the negative experiences of getting hateful comments on published articles and posts make us aware, that we need every hand and every voice- every day! You can make an impact here, either you want your voice, hand, or both to support- Come as you are!
To end this article, I want to stress: Please focus on the many positive sides of life more and try to skip the negative ones from time to time. The negative ones are valuable lessons to learn about the past, but the positive ones give us the energy we need to go forward!
Thanks for reading…cheers,