In our first Pride interview with Solidatus executive assistant Tamaryn Kravleva-Greener, we looked at the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people from society – friends, family, colleagues. But acceptance comes in many different forms, and it could be said that it should start at home. The importance of acceptance from within the LGBTQ+ community is almost as important as acceptance from those outside.
In the second and final of our follow-up pieces for Pride Month, I caught up with Solidatus development specialist Samuel Trew to chat all things Pride.
From his coming out, to issues within the LGBTQ+ community and raising awareness beyond Pride Month, Samuel speaks candidly about how sensitive topics such as sexuality, gender and even ‘straight-passing’ are dealt with both within and outside of the community.
Because we must all celebrate our differences, our uniqueness and support each other not in spite of it – but because of it.
We want to know more about you. Tell us your story.
When I was about 14 I came out as bisexual to a few close friends. There were mixed reactions and it made things awkward between a few of us. However, as time went on I slowly came out to more and more people and it got better and easier until I eventually came out to my family and then publicly on Facebook when I was 15.
I was treated differently at school in various ways. People would generally just make the odd weird comment or adjustment to what they were saying but sometimes it turned malicious.
Luckily this pretty much all went away by the time I got to university, and I’ve been so lucky that it hasn’t really affected my life at all since then.
Having dated my current girlfriend for over four years now has probably made things easier as people consider these kind of relationships ‘straight-passing’, but it doesn’t discredit my sexuality, who I am or struggles I’ve had.
How has it been for you coming out in a professional sense?
I think I have been extremely fortunate that it hasn’t affected my career or work life at all. I think it really speaks volumes to how far we have come as a society, and how kind people at Solidatus are in general.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride means so many different things to so many different people but I like to think of it in a broader sense. I think of Pride as a time where people should be free to express themselves when they previously haven’t been able to.
I don’t see it as a limitation for certain groups. Everyone should be free to join and experience Pride.
What is an issue in the LGBTQ+ community that you are particularly passionate about?
I think the in-fighting has always been of interest. You get groups like LGB and not the T, which could be considered as exclusive of the trans community, or people often believing that bisexual/asexual people don’t exist (or it’s not real), all coming from other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
It gets me frustrated to see people who have suffered at the hands of bigots portray themselves as though they are better than their bullies, but in reality sometimes they act just as bad as them.
It is important to note that any group inside of the LGBTQ+ community is distinct and different in its own way, and has suffered in its own unique way. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t come together in support of each other.
Do you have any special plans for celebrating Pride this year?
Not particularly this year. I generally see how I feel and see what’s happening around me. Last year I arrived in Reading the week before their pride parade and was able to join in with the lovely occasion.
What do you think companies in tech can do this Pride Month and beyond to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace?
I think highlighting that there exists members of the workplace who are LGBTQ+ is generally a good start. It could make people who are nervous or less comfortable feel more calm and able to work in that environment, even if it’s just because they know someone else similar to them is able to and is enjoying working there.
What can tech organisations do to promote a positive and healthy environment for colleagues who are LGBTQ+?
Just to be kind in general. Even if you disagree with it, it takes more effort to be aggravating and causes more harm than good.
What would you say to someone who wants to come out but is too scared to?
The world is a much safer and better place than it was for LGBTQ+ people even 10 years ago. However, coming out is a very personal experience and personal circumstances can still make it hard. Finding close allies in either friends or in the community at large can make it easier, although that in itself is easier said than done.
One thing to try is coming out to a complete stranger at something like a Pride event where there will be allies. There are pretty much no consequences to having come out to a stranger but it can help to have finally said it to someone for the first time. That first time is always one of the scariest.
You may also be interested in:
‘Be strong and be uniquely you’ - Pride Month interview with Tamaryn Kraleva-Greener
Stonewall to the workplace: why equality in tech still has further to go
Women take tech: Code for girls with Nadia Mahgerefteh
Women take tech: CDO Lorraine Waters talks data, female empowerment and career development
Breaking the mould to #BreakTheBias in tech