On the Side of Pride
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June 16, 2022
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Early summertime in Fresno means dry, blistering heat, Grizzlies games, and an extra dose of Pride. Every June, cities all over the world come together to celebrate Pride month–a time when the queer community can bask in the beauty of being themelves and honor all sexual orientations and gender identities. Pride month is an opportunity to celebrate and memorialize the queer trailblazers who rioted to ensure equal rights were given to everyone, regardless of who they love or how they identify.
At Bitwise Industries, when we talk about community and inclusivity, we’re talking about everyone, everywhere. And that’s exactly what Pride month means to us. Because Bitwise values inclusion and empowering those in marginalized communities, a sizable portion our company identifies as LGBTQIA+ and non-binary/gender non-conforming. It is through our differences that we find community and the ability to celebrate each other during Pride month and beyond.
In honor of Pride and all the ways Bitwise embodies that Pride in our daily mission and our people, this blog is dedicated to teaching the history of Pride month, sharing how our people celebrate during June and all year round, and how Bitwise not only embraces our LGBTQIA+ community members, but how we embody that acceptance in our corporate culture–through having open dialogue about LGBTQIA+ issues, prioritizing the sharing of pronouns, and spotlighting our Bitwise family members via social media and beyond.
It’s no secret that as time progresses, society does, too. Because of this, the moniker assigned to those in the queer community continues to change and evolve to embody the growing identities and sexual orientations that we celebrate during Pride and all year round.
So what does the growing acronym stand for? LGBTQIA+, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, with the plus sign signifying the embodiment of the growing identities that evolve within the queer community, including our non-binary and gender non-conforming pals.
It’s no secret that the first Pride was a riot. In 1969, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, targeting the city’s LGBTQIA+ community, sparked the riot that would be remembered as the first Pride celebration–a rejection of the status quo and full embrace of the queer and trans community members that made the riot into a movement. These community members include legendary names like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two New York residents and transgender women of color, who came together to help homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women fight to find their place in this world.
The queer community and transgender women of color continue to lead the movement for Pride in 2022–advocating for transgender kids across the United States facing discriminatory laws and continuing the fight to maintain marriage equality for all. With organizations like The Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union at the forefront, the fight for gay rights is more important than ever.
Bitwise is made of 43% LGBTQIA+, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and female-identifying employees. Here, we don’t just ask people from the queer community to take up space, we encourage it, and give those in the community opportunities to grow, lead, and cultivate sustainable careers in technology.
Inclusion is so much more than a percentage in a blog; it’s walking the walk and creating environments to accept humans as who they are, regardless of where they fall on the gender binary. It’s the ability to share our pronouns and have real conversations about how to create space for every pal to feel not only comfortable, but integral to the work we do at Bitwise. When we create this space, we foster an open and inclusive environment, where each participant is ready and willing to learn more as gender identity and sexual orientation evolve over time.
Because sexual orientation and gender identity are so fluid, Bitwise also offers tangible benefits and resources, including an employee assistance program (in addition to our stellar health benefits) that offers confidential counseling sessions to help employees and their household members connect and work through mental health stressors, together.
Bitwise acknowledges that as humans, we are all made of stories–experiences that are integral to our identities and our ability to understand and empathize with other humans, despite differing life journeys. Last year, we highlighted several of our LGBTQIA+ community members in Unwavering Pride at Bitwise, and celebrated all of the beauty and freedom that comes during Pride month.
Perhaps the greatest representation we have of LGBTQIA+ folks thriving in the Bitwise ecosystem is the intentionality behind ensuring that the queer community is represented by our leadership. It goes without mentioning that Irma Olguin Jr. is a beacon for queer representation in the tech industry, with Fast Company featuring her as one of their Queer 50 honorees–an annual list of LGBTQIA+ women and nonbinary trailblazers in business and technology. Queer leadership does not stop at Irma, but is instead a current throughout our c-suite and every department, where all types of identities are represented.
Pride celebrations are most recognizable by a surge in rainbow flags and drag queens, but queer celebration is so much bigger than that. When we gather our loved ones for Pride parades around the country, we send our community a message of solidarity and support. Creating spaces for queer leadership and representation within our company is when our allyship shines the brightest. When we hang Pride flags outside of our buildings and homes, we are sending a message of strength and togetherness, and a commitment to honoring and embracing our LGBTQIA+ siblings.
Pride month is about telling our queer neighbors and community members that we see them, we honor them, and we will advocate for them to have a safe space to exist, not only in public spaces, but in private as well. Pride means understanding the sensitivity behind coming out, and the importance of creating safe environments for people to share their hearts when they’re ready. For many, Bitwise has become that safe place to land, and a safe place for those in the LGBTQIA+ community to be themselves and exist without fear of judgment or prejudice.
In a country where homophobic attitudes exist, and with the Internet becoming a place for people to be loud and proud about those attitudes, allyship is more important than ever. According to The Trevor Project, suicide is the “leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults, with LGBTQIA+ youth at significantly higher risk.” Additionally, nearly 2 million queer youth, aged 13 to 24, seriously consider suicide each year, with an attempt happening every 45 seconds. It’s important to note that Black transgender and nonbinary youth face disproportionate rates of suicide risk, with over 50% seriously considering suicide, and more than 25% attempting suicide in the past year. Similarly, LGBTQIA+ youth have a significantly higher risk of experiencing some form of homelessness, with almost 40% of the over 4 million youth experiencing homelessness identifying as part of the queer community.
Affirming spaces are more important than ever, with research suggesting that among queer youth, “only one-third experience parental acceptance, with another third of experiencing parental rejection, and the final third not disclosing their identity until they are adults.” Queer youth also lack access to affirming spaces, with more than half of them reporting that their schol is LGBTQIA+ affirming and 37% saying their home is LGBTQIA+ affirming as well. When queer youth have access to affirming spaces, research reports lower rates of suicide attempts. So yes, hanging flags and tipping your local queens during Pride month is integral–but so is doing the work to create safe spaces for the queer community to not only exist, but to thrive. It makes a difference to donate to your local queer nonprofit, but introducing yourself with your pronouns is aboslutely free, and a huge part of the culture here at Bitwise. Here, many employees have found their chosen family, affirming community members who create a safe place for them to exist exactly as they are, with the constant reminder that no one belongs here more than you.
Pride makes June beautiful in a multitude of ways, but it’s important to recognize that the work extends far past one month in the middle of the year. The continued work of building community and making our LGBTQIA+ friends feel valid and safe should exist year-round, with a special awareness and mindfulness of the struggle that brought them to where they are today, is exactly what makes Bitwise who we are.
In a country where legislation is passed almost daily barring gender-affirming medical care for transgender kids, or rolling back government mandates requring marriage equality, it is more important than ever to let our friends know that LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights. So, we’ll continue to wave our flags–out of celebration, but also out of the duty to let our queer team members and clients know that they are loved and valued. We wave our flags year-round, so the rest of our Bitwise communities across the country know that LGBTQIA+ people love and hurt and deserve to marry whoever they want, and occupy the bodies and space that they’ve always deserved. They are human. And here at Bitwise, we’re all about humans.
Want to hear more about Bitwise Industries? Whether you have a question about our corporate culture or want to optimize your business with technology, schedule a chat with us using this link.
Bitwise Industries specializes in custom software development, Contact Center-as-a-Service, and Salesforce implementation and administration. Our technology professionals have deep experience applying cutting-edge technology solutions to help business entities of all sizes navigate the technology landscape to find solutions to optimize their operations.
Amber Carpenter is a Junior Copywriter at Bitwise Industries and is a Carly Rae Jepsen enthusiast. When she’s not click-clacking away at her computer, you can find her curled up with her cat watching reality TV–obviously for cultural critique and not at all because it’s entertaining to watch a rich lady flip over a table.
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