Celebrating Pride Month
By Michael Alicea · June 6, 2022
If you follow my blogs or know me, you know that I celebrate people. I celebrate the promise of opportunity that every one of us want when we join Trellix. I celebrate the values I stand for as a human being and a leader – and that Trellix stands for, or I wouldn’t choose to work here. I celebrate the differences that make us human, and those that make us better as a company.
June is widely celebrated as LGBTQ Pride month. Speaking on behalf of our leadership team here at Trellix, this is a milestone that matters to us – a fundamental core value of Trellix is Open. It’s a chance for a much-oppressed community to come together to celebrate successes in a long march for many for liberation and a resolve to continue the fight for true equality under the law. Though there have been many advances since the days of being referred to as the “Lavender Menace,” as LGBTQ people were called by many government officials in the 1950s and ‘60s, there is still a long way yet to go.
So why Pride, and what is it?
To answer that, we go back to 1969. Pride in being LGBTQ was unheard of in that era; shame, violence, and social stigma was the norm then. LGBTQ Pride had its beginning outside the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City, on June 28, 1969. That night, groups of LGBTQ people, led by transgender women of color, fought back against the New York Police Department (NYPD) after they raided the bar, arresting, harassing, and brutalizing the bar’s patrons. The riots lasted for six days. They had been simmering for years under NYPD’s campaign of terror against the community. One year later, on June 28, 1970, the very first pride march, Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, was celebrated. Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in bringing together all the elements of a successful pride march that birthed the month-long celebrations that happen worldwide every June.
Pride is more than just a march or a block party.
It is the freedom to live authentically, comfortable in one’s own skin, knowing that one is accepted in the wider community as an equal member. This has not been the case for LGBTQ people until relatively recently. Sadly, it’s still not entirely true in the tech community. As our recent survey of cybersecurity professionals reported, 78% are male, 64% are white and 89% are heterosexual. Those numbers speak volumes about the culture of the tech community and how far we have yet to go in becoming truly inclusive and welcoming, in becoming a place where LGBTQ people can thrive and live authentically as themselves.
Examples of LGBTQ courage and leadership
- Alan Turing: Is it fair to say that all of us in the tech community know him? Born in England, he is known as the father of modern computing, and the inventor of the machine that decrypted German communications during WWII, saving tens of thousands of lives. The reward for his heroism was to be convicted of gross indecency because he was gay, and to be chemically
- Audrey Tang: But do we know about Audrey Tang? Audrey is the youngest person to ever serve as a Cabinet member in the Taiwanese government. At age 35 she was shaping Taiwanese tech policy, working on bringing the country out of a hardware-focused tech economy to one supportive of startups in the tech industry that are bringing the latest ideas into being. Tang’s ministry helped form Taiwan’s Digital Eight-Year Plan, the goal of which is to put Taiwan on the map as one of the top 10 countries for information technology development. She believes in collaborative thinking and working, empowering people to be their authentic selves, and in the power of poetry. Oh yeah, and she happens to be a transgender woman.
- Tim Cook: The CEO of Apple knows about the power of leading by example. After being named to the top position at Apple in August 2011, he started getting letters from young people talking about how they were ostracized, bullied, or abused for being LGBTQ. Cook’s sexual orientation had been the source of rumors for a while, and the letters ultimately helped him decide to publicly come out as gay in October 2014. He was the first Fortune 500 CEO to do so.
As a technology leader, we shape our industry’s future
There is a home in the tech community for LGBTQ people if we care enough to build it. In the wake of recent political attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, particularly transgender women and youth, we in the tech community have a responsibility to look inward at ourselves, and then outwards at the world we’re creating. The future lies in our hands. Will we make it a welcoming one where everyone is accepted regardless of their ethnicity, or who they love, or how they express their gender? I’d like to think so. Let’s move that future forward, together.
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