Why do you celebrate Pride and what makes it important for you to celebrate it? Growing up as a queer child on the Canary Islands in the 90’s always felt rough. I saw myself like a weird specimen, like I didn’t belong anywhere. In my particular case I was very lucky to grow up in a household full of love where I was always supported. But despite that, all the feedback that I got from the outside (the school, the street, the media, the society in general) was always negative. Not only towards my sexual orientation which wasn’t even defined at that time, but because of my effeminate manners. Because of that I went through all my childhood and teenage years firmly convinced that what was “happening” inside of me was wrong, that it had to be hidden and changed if I was going to be a “real man” in the future. When I turned 16 years old I finally came out of the closet and things started to change. I started to buy and read different queer publications and magazines and that’s when I first knew about Pride and what it meant. But it wasn’t until 3 years later when I could finally attend to my first Pride ever (August 2005 in Amsterdam precisely). I was on my own, no family or friends were with me. But it didn’t matter at all… because of everything that I felt that day that I will remember forever. It was the first time in my life that I had a real feeling of “belonging”, that I wasn’t alone. For the first time in my life everything that made me feel different and alone in the past now was being the reason for a celebration, for cohession between a whole bunch of unknown individuals with different backgrounds but fighting for the same thing: the right to be loved, the right to express our identities the way we feel them, the right to simply EXIST OPENLY without fear, shame or regret. It has been 18 years, but all those feelings of my first Pride are still very present inside of me and that’s why is such an important celebration for me. It reminds me that, despite all the hate, all the bigotry in the world we’re still here conquering our rightful place in this world and society. It reminds me that I’m an equal human being like anybody else and that I have the right to love, to be loved and to exist in whatever form I choose to show my identity.
How would you describe your experience as a queer person in the workplace? I've been lucky enough to say that my experience as a queer person in all the different work places I've been has always been positive but at Fourthline it has been particularly better. It is the first company that I work for that actively expresses its goal to be a really inclusive company where everybody is accepted and celebrated. A statement that comes true on a daily basis when I interact with all of my colleagues or when I see how the company celebrates Pride as a mean of cohession between coworkers. I have never felt discriminated nor treated differently because of my queer identity, on the opposite, everyone is kind and treats each other with respect and acceptance.
Would you be comfortable sharing any learnings from your journey as a queer person that might inspire your co-workers? By all means. I think that sharing my journey as a queer person with the rest of my colleages is a great exercise in order to create a more empathic environment. It could be a really good enriching experience for non-queer people to feel and understand the struggles we all have been throughout our lives, specially when we're growin up in our child and teenage years. In my opinion education and understanding is key in order to mantain empathy and acceptance and the best way to do that is to share our experiences with one another.
If Fourthline could do one thing better to be more inclusive for Queer people, what would that be? Precisely this initiative is the one thing that I thought Fourthline could do better to be more inclusive for queer people. I think that this exercise of sharing our experiences as queer people with the rest of the company is the best way to be heard, understood and accepted.
How do you look back on participating in this initiative and what do you hope it brings/enables? As I said before, my biggest aim with this initiative is to create a more empathetic environment for all of us, a place where we as queer people are not only accepted but understood by our peers. Our experiences made us the people that we are today and it is important in order for the rest of the people to understand how and why we are like we are.