After wrapping up LGBTQ History Month this past October and as we head into the holiday season here in the US, I am reminded of just how willing the Alation community is to step up and support one another, and I am extremely thankful. Now seems as good a time as any to put a spotlight on LGBTQ History month, and highlight the progress Alation has made towards supporting its external and internal LGBTQ+ community.
A Brief History of LGBTQ History Month
LGBTQ History Month is the annual observance of LGBTQ history around the world and the socio-political change made by LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ History Month started with Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher from Missouri. He recognized the lack of representation for LGBTQ history in his school’s curriculum and felt there should be a month devoted to its study. After his official proposal of the month gained support and notable endorsements, the first LGBTQ History Month was celebrated in October of 1994. Wilson chose the month of October to coincide with National Coming Out Day and the National Marches on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in ‘79 and ‘87.
As of this year, LGBTQ History Month is observed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland, Hungary, the UK, the US, and in Berlin, Germany. While it is officially observed in just a small number of countries, LGBTQ+ communities celebrate their history and culture all across the globe.
LGBTQ History Month is about recognizing the notable pioneers of LGBTQ+ rights, but it also shines a light on the people and events that are under- or mis-represented in mainstream media, classrooms, workplaces, and daily conversation. This month exists to promote visibility for the LGBTQ+ community and the ongoing work that people all over the world are doing to educate others, foster social and political change, and normalize LGBTQ+ people in all spaces.
Community at Alation
From my time at Alation, it has become clear to me that the employees here rejoice in recognizing the amazing work their peers have done and sincerely care for those in our communities. We are passionate about “listening like we’re wrong” and love to learn from one another. We recognize when and where we have room to grow. LGBTQ History Month reminds me of the ways in which Alation already supports its internal and external communities, and that we as a company understand that there is still work to be done in our journey to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment.
Our CEO and Co-founder, Satyen Sangani, has said many times that he wants Alation to be a place where everyone can bring their whole selves. This makes me feel even more hopeful for the direction that Alation is going in support of the LGBTQ+ community and our rights because we strive to support everyone within the Alation community — not only in October but year-round.
This past year, Alation has pushed even more to diversify and expand its reach with a greater focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and have more open discussions about its importance in the workplace. Alationauts have also put their money where their mouths are. Last June, a fundraiser was created in order to support LGBTQ+ nonprofits and organizations around the world, many of which aimed to support and promote awareness for Black Trans and Queer communities. We donated to 16 different organizations including Coast Pride, an LGBTQ+ non profit organization located in Half Moon Bay, California.
Coast Pride has worked to provide a safe and loving space for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, raise awareness for LGBTQ+ issues, and support LGBTQ+ youth, adults and families. In addition to hosting events and support groups for the community, Coast Pride has also pushed for more equitable and inclusive policies regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression within their school district. In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, Coast Pride put together a display of LGBTQ History at Half Moon Bay City Hall. And, on December 6, Coast Pride will be hosting a virtual fundraising event with live performances from LGBTQ+ groups and families.
Pride at Alation
During our Pride Month all-company Zoom meeting, it was wonderful to see employee after employee using a rainbow background created by our design team, including Daniel Quasar’s Progress Flag, which features Gilbert Baker’s traditional rainbow stripes, as well as white, pink and blue to represent the transgender flag, and brown and black to represent people of color. This flag recognizes the intersections between race, gender identity, and sexual orientation, intending to promote greater visibility for Trans and Queer People of Color, and recognize the progress that still needs to be made. All of this was great to see, but it was even greater to be able to provide education on the history of Pride and the people who have fought for LGBTQ+ rights, namely Black and Brown QTPOC (Queer Trans People of Color). As a queer person, it was especially impactful for me to be able to celebrate Pride with my company and help educate my colleagues on something that I am extremely passionate about providing more visibility for.
Recently, Alation CDAO and co-founder, Aaron Kalb, headed an initiative to educate employees on gender pronouns and their importance. We wanted sharing pronouns to be easy but optional. To that end, we created and shared a document that encouraged all employees to consider adding their gender pronouns to social bios, like Slack, no matter how they identify. As minimal or strange as adding pronouns to your bios may seem, seeing them in Slack or in an email signature can help normalize discussions about gender and help reduce the tendency to make assumptions about someone’s identity.
Every Month is LGBTQ History Month
LGBTQ History Month is over, but educating ourselves and others as well as advocating for acceptance and inclusion is a full-time responsibility. I’m thankful to be part of a community that knows there is still work to be done, and embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion year-round.