October is an exciting month of celebrations for the LGBT community and allies. We recognized National Coming Out Day on October 11th, and our celebration of LGBT History Month continues. Recent followers of Capgemini NA’s Twitter @joincapgemini have seen our colleagues’ thoughts about the importance of this month, truthfully and openly.
Each year, National Coming Out Day and LGBT history month continue to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live. On 11th October, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington to fight for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This was the 2nd such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBTQ organizations. The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer activists from around the country gathered outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBTQ community often reacted defensively to anti-LGBTQ actions, they developed the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born!
Since coming out is such a profound and emotional experience for everyone who is LGBT, I wanted to share my own personal coming out story. I always knew I was different from the other boys but I never thought homosexuality was a bad thing — my Mum always told me that being different was being different and nothing more than that. I am a firm believer that everyone is different in their own great way and I am very grateful to grew up in a liberal, open minded family. My Mum was always very supportive of my brother’s friends who turned out to be gay. It took me around 5 years to get to that point of exactly knowing who I am as a person and to share it with the people who are close to me, especially my dear friends and family I still remember my coming out day vividly. I came out when I was 19 years old right after I finished the last final exams at high school. I however did not make the decision to come out, rather it came to me. After we ate, my mum and I chatted about my last exam and about what I want to do next in my life. Suddenly my mum looked me in the eye and asked: “Jens, do you prefer dating men?” This caught me off guard. I looked her straight in the eyes and just say “Yes!” The next moment was very dramatic. My mum started crying and I did not really know what to do. I was surprised about her emotional rejection because she was always so open minded and supportive of other people. But I guess things can turn out to be emotionally very different if it is your own son or daughter. I left the house and escaped to my friends place for a short time.
As this social transformation was happening, my family was on the back-burner. My dad however was making an extra effort to be very supportive. We went for dinner one night, where he hugged me and said that he would always support me, no matter who I was or what I did with my life. He also told me that he would take care of my Mum, who needed a bit more time to accept me being gay. With the support of my Dad and brother firmly behind me, I felt invincible and rejuvenated.
Although the beginning phases of coming out were painful and disheartening, especially with my mum, the end result was phenomenal. Not only have I become more confident in myself and are closer than ever to my family, but I have also been able to help others through the process. Coming out fostered my personality, my relationships with people, and my growth as an individual.
OUTfront Strategy 2017
The mission of OUTfront is to provide a forum for education and awareness supporting the professional growth of LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies) individuals and foster a safe environment for individuals to be authentic in the workplace. In 2016, OUTfront has supported several recruitment and local community events relevant to the mission. OUTfront recently supported the Out for Undergrad (O4U) Business Conference in NYC, which was a great success.
In 2017 we want to expand the effort we started 2016. One of the most exciting events in 2017 will be the launch of our own OUTfront quarterly newsletter, which will include external and internal highlights as well as important future events (e.g. LGBT conferences, workshops etc.). Stay tuned and be excited! Other important goals for 2017 include growing our LGBT and Allies community for OUTfront, and to have even more positive impact on the LGBT community. We plan on doing this via a focus on internal Capgemini culture as well as participating in a multitude of philanthropic, recruiting, and talent development events throughout the year.
Article Contributor: Jens Loebbermann
Jens Loebbermann is a Senior Consultant in the Cross-Capability Unit based out of the New York Office. He is the OUTfront Communication lead for 2017. Prior to joining Capgemini, Jens worked with several Pharmaceutical Companies and Non-profits. Most recently he performed research for R&D pipeline drugs and vaccines to design clinical trials. Jens holds a PhD in Immunology from Imperial College in London and an MBA from Emory University, Goizueta Business School. In his spare time he enjoys traveling and going to the gym.
Capgemini NA’s Employee Resource Group Program
Capgemini NA endorses 11 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that support our Diversity & Inclusion program. An ERG can be thought of as a network of colleagues with a common purpose. Any employee can join an ERG, or create a new ERG. Currently, there are approximately 1,400 Capgemini NA employees who participate in one of our ERGs. More about our program can be found in the attached blog articles.