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OUTfront Employee Resource Group Recognizes Pride Month

Category : People

This blog was authored by Ben Barry, member of Capgemini North America’s OUTfront Employee Resource Group, with contributions by Myles Cryer, Andy Heppelle, and Janet Pope.

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 recruitment events andl local community events relevant to the mission.

Ben is the Site Coordinator for Applied Innovation Exchange in San Francisco.  Ben wrote this article prior to the tragic event in Orlando on June 13th.  Capgemini North America, the CR&S Team and OUTfront join the global community in the shock and sadness caused by that senseless act. We have decided to publish the article during Pride Month, and its positive attributes, in an effort to continue to illuminate good and not be overwhelmed by darkness.

June is recognized as Pride Month in North America with Pride parades and festivals held in 80+ cities.  From Anchorage to Winnipeg, there will be parades, parties, flags and fanfare in celebration of LGBT pride.

Many major cities are pride destinations in themselves.  San Francisco’s pride weekend attracts over 1 million people and leads to the closure of multiple city blocks.  A city of activists, this year San Francisco’s committees are focusing on the theme “Racial and Economic Equality”.  

New York’s weeklong Pride celebration includes the Drag March, a traffic-stopping crosstown pilgrimage attended by thousands. Founded as a civil rights demonstration in 1970, its purpose has broadened over the years to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and remembrance those we have lost to illness, violence and neglect.

Whether social activism, parade marching or just plain celebrating, we wanted to know what Pride means to our employees. How do they get involved in Pride? Who do they include in Pride revelry? How do they recognize Pride in the cities where they work or live? See below for how three Capgemini employees #takeprideinride. 

 Andy Heppelle, Capgemini Applied Innovation Exchange, San Francisco

I #takeprideinpride because it’s my way of visibly participating in the creation of an inclusive and more honorable society for everyone. Pride for me has turned into a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the millions of people who have helped to make the world a kinder, more loving and inclusive place for people that just want to love and to be loved in return and to do so with safety and dignity in the place they call home.

 Tell us about your first pride experience: where and when was it?

My first pride experience was in Toronto in the 1980s, when I was in my early 20s. I wasn’t out to family and friends but was in Toronto during Pride and experienced the sensation of being able to be my authentic self with thousands of other people and feeling safe and supported as my “entire self” for the first time in my life.

Who did you go with? Why did you choose to spend it with those people?

I spent that first pride alone as a single person from out of town. My favorite Prides were the ones that my husband, Paul, and I enjoyed together in our years in Toronto. We invariably ran into friends and family members along the parade route or in the Church Street Village. For a city of millions, it was always a small town atmosphere of shared celebration.

What kinds of events typically happen in your city?

We always attended the parades, the boat cruises on the lake and the street parties, where we danced until the early morning. We did it all through the years!                  

What’s a destination you’d most like to go to celebrate pride, and why?

I would love to be in Sydney for a Pride celebration. We’ve had many friends who have been there for Mardi Gras, as it’s called there, and they always have rave reviews.

 What’s the best pride event/destination you’ve ever been to, and why?

Best Pride ever was the recent World Pride in Toronto. We so often take full equal rights under the law for granted in Canada. The visitors would tell us how lucky we were to have such equal rights, and “we hope it happens in our country. So many other nations do not enjoy the same freedoms that LGBT Canadians or Americans do.

What does it mean to your family and friends who have celebrated Pride with you?

We have celebrated with our friends all through the years. One of the funniest comments came from a dear friend of 20 years who said recently “Look at all the white hair in the crowd at Pride this year, when did that happen?” and then I suggested that she take a look at the group of us, all with white beards or hair, and we laughed.

Myles Cryer, Communications Manager (State of Georgia), Atlanta:

 I #takeprideinpride in fighting for justice and equality for those who have an unequivocal right to nothing less.

 Tell us about your first pride experience: where and when was it?

As an LGBT ally, I experienced my first pride during graduate school. I was raised in a conservative part of the country where open discussions of LGBT issues were not taken kindly. In this open and inclusive atmosphere, I was proud of who I was as a supporter of LGBT rights, and it provided me the ability to more successfully and confidently stand up to those who would take away those rights from those who deserve nothing less than what I receive on the basis of an identity that’s deemed “normal” by society at large.

 Who did you go with? Why did you choose to spend it with those people?

This may sound cliché, but the lesbian and gay friends I met during grad school were the most fun and open people I have met in my life. The “choice” of who to go with was obvious (laughs).

What kinds of events typically happen in your city? Which ones do you choose to partake in, and which do you not. Why/why not?

As a part of the OUTfront ERG, Atlanta employees hold small events whenever possible to support local charities. I prefer these small gatherings to larger walks or other city-wide events because of the intimacy of the setting. It’s much easier to forge a community this way - which is really the whole point, aside from taking part in an important charitable event.

 What’s a destination you’d most like to go to celebrate pride, and why?

Hands down, it would have to be Austin, TX. Austin is an absolutely wonderful city with a fairly liberal atmosphere. Especially if the celebration involves raising money for a cause, Austin would be my perfect spot to hold such an event given the community’s likelihood to participate and promote the cause of their own free will. That’s just the culture of Austin, and it’s fantastic.

Janet Pope, North America CR&S Leader, Houston, TX

I #takeprideinpride because it is important to have inclusive leaders and workplaces where people can succeed regardless of their intersectionality or identity. The celebration, recognition, and acceptance of people without judgment of who they love enabling them to live, love, and be without fear... Unapologetically... Proudly!

Tell us about your first pride experience: where and when was it?

New York in 2008.  I'm from South Carolina originally so it was a breath of fresh air to be amongst people who were out and proud. I wasn't out at the time and people were accepting of where I was on my journey and encouraging.  I remember a friend giving me a rainbow bracelet that year.

 Who did you go with? Why did you choose to spend it with those people?

Friends.  They accepted where I was in my personal journey and wanted me to experience an accepting environment.

What kinds of events typically happen in your city? Which ones do you choose to partake in, and which do you not. Why/why not?

In Houston, I've attended the parade.  It's hot so I can't say I've participated every year... When I do attend it's fun to participate with so many different people and local organizations.

 What’s a destination you’d most like to go to celebrate pride, and why?

San Fran... We all know why, it's San Fran!

What’s the best pride event/destination you’ve ever been to, and why?

New York... It's just a great city for everything.

What does it mean to your family and friends who have celebrated it with you?

Honestly, I think it's a bit like taking a man to a woman's convention.  Exciting and different for them to be the minority at the same time.  Kudos to allies across the board!  We need allies to progress inclusion in companies and social justice in the world.

About the Author:  Ben Barry was born and raised in Sydney, but feels more at home in San Francisco than anywhere else. A resident of the City by the Bay since 2010, Ben has worked as an English teacher, French tutor, tour guide, bartender, and server. When he’s not working as the Site Coordinator at the Applied Innovation Exchange in Capgemini’s San Francisco office, you can find him cooking, lying in the sun, or riding his bike. 

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Yvonne Harris
Yvonne Harris

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