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Betterworks Profiles in Pride: Marilyn Hollinger

By Marilyn Hollinger
June 17, 2022
2 minute read

I identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am a lesbian in a poly household and have two gender-variant adult children.

Pride is important to me because it provides a place for “normalization” and validation of my family. When I was younger, I was so nervous about being “out.” I successively broadened my circle, first coming out to my family, panicked that they would reject me (they didn’t). Then my friends, my work colleagues, and the world in general.

Pride (and associated activities, like this writing) gives me a chance to have a discussion about issues related to my life and my family when it seems weird to bring it up in day-to-day conversation. As a new employee at Betterworks, this is an easy way for me to be out to my colleagues.

I remember back in the late 1990s, when I was the head of the LGBTQ+ group at Oracle, Oracle Lambda, when we planned Pride activities. One of those activities was a group lunch on-site. We grabbed a whole bunch of tables in one of the dining areas, and we all showed up in our Oracle Lambda or other Pride-related shirts, and we decorated the tables with a bunch of rainbow streamers. It felt both dangerous and liberating to make such a bold statement in a public area, surrounded by our colleagues. It was joyous!

However, there were still some people who were too scared to attend, people who weren’t out at work, and were afraid of that public statement. The more we do Pride activities at work, the easier it will be for those people who might otherwise be afraid.

When Pride activities are supported by the company, it makes a statement about this being a safe space to bring our whole selves. Some people say, “Why do we need to do this — we’re a business!” The reason is that we are more than just business automatons; we are friendly colleagues who share our lives with each other. How many times have you participated in casual conversation like, “Did you have a good weekend?” It’s important for LGBTQ+ people to be able to say something like “I had a great time at the Pride parade” or “My wife and I had fun at the beach” or whatever they did, without having to worry about censoring their lives.

It’s also important to understand that the LGBTQ+ community is not one thing. Lesbians are different from gay men, transgender people, and others in the “alphabet.” There are also huge differences in people and their lifestyles within those communities. This means that we should treat people as individuals, without any assumptions about their lives or families based on any one characteristic. When we do this, people can feel free to bring their whole selves to the workplace and expect and receive respect in all aspects of their lives.