Lesbian Visibility Day: Why visibility is so valuable in the workplace
- Posted on April 23, 2021
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
The following blog post was co-authored by Avanade alum Nathalie Stiefsohn.
Lesbian Visibility Day (LVD) occurs every year on April 26, created to celebrate, recognize, and bring visibility lesbian identified members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s about honoring and elevating this unique community of people who are historically overlooked and dismissed by way of being both women and queer. Members of Avanade’s LGBTQ+ Employee Network Prism share their stories and why visibility is so important to them.
Finding the support to be who I am
Any day of visibility, regardless the specifics, is acting as a reminder that everyone has worth.
For people of my generation and cultural background (I am Greek national born in late 1980s in Athens), there is still a taboo around the subject of sexuality, especially from the older family members.
Coming to live with my first girlfriend in the U.K. 10 years ago (yes, I considered myself straight before then), it was a revelation for me. Cultural differences and the acceptance of homosexuality made my relationships easier. It took me over five years through various relationships to come to terms with who I really am.
I couldn't do this though on my own, so I asked for support to understand why I was feeling confusion back then. Through the years, I felt more confident with who I am, but I still felt I couldn't bring my true self in the workplace.
Working at Avanade, I feel I can bring the best version of myself when I'm engaged in conversations. The fact that there is representation of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, disability in our leadership team makes me feel more open about feeling comfortable in my own skin. The message I want to send is that everyone can feel safe and authentic about bringing the best version of themselves in the workplace regardless of age, gender, sex, sexual preference, disability or how you want to identify yourself.
—Viki Panagiotidi, U.K.
I look forward to the day when I, and others, don’t have to come out or need specific days like LVD. Personally, coming out hasn’t always been a fun or easy experience. Part of being a leader in Avanade involves ensuring that my colleagues, clients and anyone I meet feels comfortable to be themselves. I want everyone to feel free to be open about their sexual orientation, if they want, but not be defined by it. Certainly, we are all multifaceted and can all face intersectionality, or different types of oppression, whether based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability. But it helps to acknowledge this intersectionality and how to address and change it. I hope by openly discussing coming out during international Lesbian Visibility Day and intersectionality, we can be the best versions of ourselves and help others to be.
—Sarah Rench, U.K.
My queer family at Avanade
Since this week marked Lesbian Visibility Day, I want to write about what it means to me meeting other lesbians (or queer people in general) in everyday life.
About half a year after I joined Avanade, I learned about the LGBTIQ+ Employee Network Prism, a collective of queer people and allies, regularly meeting up to promote LGBTIQ+ topics, aiming to make queer people feel saver at Avanade. I immediately felt like part of a small Europe-wide family and I was (and still am) very hyped about meeting other queer people at work. While we are all very different (country, age, talent community, seniority level, hobbies, personality) there is this one very personal thing which unites us. Many of us wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for being queer.
We all face similar fears of rejection due to our sexual orientation, and unfortunately a lot of us have faced discrimination or even a trauma inflicted by a rejecting family member or friends. Needless to say, sharing traumatizing experiences is very bonding and triggers a lot of empathy for each other.
But it’s not only the negative aspects which unite us; it is as simple as being able to share the typical lesbian/queer banter: sharing our favorite Ellen DeGeneres episodes, re-bingeing “Orange is the New Black” and having someone to obsess with, or supporting the colleague who just came out publicly at work and figuring out how we can include him/her/them into our little queer Avanade family. Chitchatting like that gives me the feeling of being myself, not having to adapt to the socially common small talk.
This is not only balm for the soul, but in fact also very beneficial for my career. We have different skill sets, different experiences, and have worked with different clients. This refreshing mix of people and skills gives me new perspectives in my own job. I am also very happy to have lesbian/queer role models within my own talent community who make space for these conversations and also open doors through things like mentoring programs.
I am very grateful having found such a funny, caring and supporting queer family within Avanade, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it grow.
—Nathalie Stiefsohn, Austria*LGBTQ+ is an abbreviation that refers to people with diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. They include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and other sexuality, sex and gender-diverse people, regardless of their term of self-identification. The abbreviation can vary and can include additional letters, such as I (intersex) and Q (queer/questioning) or even appear in a different order (e.g., GLBTI).