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Pride 2021: Looking In & Coming Out

June 17th, 2021
7 min read

A year ago, we reflected on the Many Faces & One Community that make up Team Rainbow here at Asana. In the wake of COVID-19, we were feeling the need for connection more deeply than ever before.  

One year later, and the world is beginning to look normal again. And after a year spent staying inside, looking inwards, and reflecting, we are eager to get back out there. As we think about reentering society, we want to share and celebrate the growth—and the resilience—we’ve built as a community. 

It’s time for us to come out: in support of our LGBTQIA+ Asanas, the organizations that have helped our queer community navigate the pandemic, and other marginalized populations that continue to be plagued by injustice. We see you, and we’re here for you. 

For this year’s Pride month, we’re committing to celebration, education, and giving back through programming that engages our allies and makes Asanas aware of what’s happening outside of our walls. 

As part of that, we’d like to introduce you to a few members of our Team Rainbow community from all over the world. Get to know them and see how they’ve grown and found greater meaning in their identities as they step into the month. 

Vanessa Neves, User Operations, Dublin (she/her/hers)

How has the past year impacted your queer identity?

The LGBTQIA+ community already faces so many issues, such as discrimination, unequal opportunities for housing and employment, and loneliness—and the pandemic has added even more stress and uncertainly on top of all of these struggles. I’m privileged to live in a safe home and to work for a company that respects me as a queer person, and that has provided us with many resources to help us cope with the effects of the pandemic. Even with these privileges, it’s still tough, and I would be lying if I said I’m not struggling. I haven’t seen some of my close friends since the beginning of the pandemic, and I know they are also having a tough time. I left my country to escape homophobia, and the price I paid was to live far away from my family. I worry everyday about their health, and because of the travel restrictions, I don’t even know when I will be allowed to visit them again.

As a queer person living so far away from my family, the LGBTQ community here in Dublin is my source of support. I miss the energy we get from our community. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep the sense of belonging when you cannot meet up in person, or even give/receive a comforting hug from friends.

How have you felt supported by your community? Are there ways in which you’re supporting others?

I’m lucky to live in a queer house with close friends, who I consider my chosen family. Having them in my life has helped me deal with the anxiety from the pandemic. The presence of these queer friends makes me feel a lot less lonely. I’m also a member of some local queer groups on social media. In these safe spaces, we can share our experiences with other queer folks, listen to each other’s stories, and get advice on anything—from life issues to tips on queer-friendly doctors or businesses. This is really important since this has been the only channel for social interaction for some queer people during the pandemic.

Here are a few other ways I’ve been helping the community:

  1. Staying informed about issues concerning the queer community, such as the fight for Family Equality. We are signing petitions and spreading the information that queer families and their children are still not equal in Ireland, even though there’s equal marriage.  

  2. Donating to queer organizations that I know and believe in, such as TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland). 

  3. Choosing local queer businesses whenever possible to give them some support since they’ve been hit hard by the pandemic.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is my favorite month of the year. It’s when we celebrate our lives without fear of retaliation. To me, it means to be able to hold my head up high and unapologetically say “I’m a lesbian woman and I deserve to be respected!”. 

It’s a mix of celebrating what has been achieved by our community but also a reflection on what still needs to be done. We must talk about intersectionality and acknowledge that there are still groups within the LGBTQ+ community, like trans, non-binary, and people of color that have always been neglected. We cannot stop fighting until everyone is genuinely equal.

Nathan Porter, IT, San Francisco (he/him/his)

How has the past year impacted your queer identity? I’m coming out of the past year having learned a lot about myself. It turns out I’m way more extroverted than I thought! I started out 2020 in high spirits ready to connect with more people in the community, however, not being able to do that made me really appreciate the friends I have and the conversations needed to grow and accept myself. I feel more comfortable meeting new people—whether that be in person or at a socially distanced hang out. 2021 has given me a lot of hope and acceptance for myself and the future. 

How have you felt supported by your community? Are there ways in which you’re supporting others?

Team Rainbow has made me feel connected to a larger queer community. This community at work has helped me grow in many ways, and I’m so thankful to be connected through our Slack channel and all of its great stories, jokes, and articles! Outside of work, I have some close friends in the queer community who are very open and loving and we’re always communicative and listening to one another. 

What does Pride mean to you? To me, Pride is about visibility and sharing your true self with the world. I grew up in a very small town, and I didn’t know any other queer people. I never felt that there was anything wrong with me, but even still, I felt the need to hide how I identified. I first learned about Pride Month in high school, but I remember feeling so happy to know there were more people out there like me, and that they were living their best life and being proud of who they were. Pride is there to show those in the community that it’s OK to be who they are, and to shout  it loud and proud.

Micah Bennett, Product Design, New York (she/they)

How has the past year impacted your queer identity?

Being inside has forced me to look inward—to care for my own needs first. Being queer for me has always required self-determination and self-reliance; this year ever more so. I had no choice but to put my mask on first before assisting others.

How have you felt supported by your community? Are there ways in which you’re supporting others?

I’ve never appreciated my community more—our adaptability, our survivability. We came together in Zoom drag shows, created new art on TikTok, and held virtual play readings. This isn’t the first plague our community has survived, and it shows. My partner and I navigated new fronts in our relationship—drawing up a will, thinking through how we want to continue to plan for our lives, and deaths, together.

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride means showing up for your community. It’s a return to our origins—in back alley bars, radical collectives. Taking to the streets against police brutality; recognizing that queer liberation means housing, healthcare, racial justice, clean air, and gender and sexual freedom. Since I was 14 at my first pride, it means seeing yourself in others, and not feeling quite so alone in this world. 

Harshita Gupta, Engineering, San Francisco (she/they)

How has the past year impacted your queer identity?

I moved back in with my parents for a few months in the fall, for the first real extended period of time since I’d left for college. My dadaji (paternal grandfather) who we’d all lived with until I was 14, died in Mumbai over the summer. As my parents moved through their grief, without the closure of traditional communal grieving rituals, I saw them open up and share old memories in raw ways they hadn’t before. 

The adversarial relationship I’d built with my parents as a queer teenager at a homophobic high school had already been mellowing through the love and community I’d found in queer college spaces. But it was this experience of “returning home,” literally and figuratively, and seeing my parents get vulnerable in real ways, that really shifted something. I started to feel a lot more room in my heart to be generous and curious about their own journeys with understanding, accepting, and celebrating queerness. I surprised myself with the compassion I felt growing inside me, really appreciating and seeing how much they’d had to push themselves to learn and grow.

How have you felt supported by your community? Are there ways in which you’re supporting others?

I had a really hard last year of school, and almost everyone who showed up for me was a fellow member of the queer and trans community. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Zoom graduation ceremonies and having to laugh and smile as speakers opined about how incredible college had been. Then I went to Lavender Graduation, the celebration of the queer and trans members of the graduating class, and I was reminded why my best times in school had been with fellow queer people. It felt apt to celebrate the end of my time as an undergraduate in a community of fellow real talkers. That felt like a graduation that was for me.

I do my best to show up—with my energy, donations, and time—for movements led by queer and trans people of color that work on addressing the underlying causes of inequality in our world. I can talk freely about who I am today because of the victories of these unglamorous movements: after all, Pride started as a riot over police violence in a New York City bar.

On a day-to-day interpersonal level, I try to stay visible and available as a resource for folks who might need to talk to someone who just “gets it.”

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is most beautiful to me in its aliveness. I think Pride is whatever you need it to be. Memories of my first Pride still give me goosebumps. I remember the wonder and amazement that I felt at 17, taking in the crowds of people—who are now my people—celebrating Pride on the streets of Manhattan. That day gave me my first taste of the unexpected feeling of “home” I would find in queer and trans communities in the years to come: the paradox of walking into a room of strangers and knowing that I was understood. In the years since, I’ve had the gift of taking recently-out friends and loved ones to their first Pride, and getting to share this feeling of “home” with them.

Celebrate with us

We’re excited to be immersed in an entire month of pride programming, community, support, and celebration. Follow along with us on LinkedInTwitter and Instagram using #teamasana to see even more from our Team Rainbow community.

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