Celebrating Pride Month & Amplifying LGBTQIA+ Voices

At Harness, one way we are recognizing Pride Month is by amplifying and celebrating the voices of our LBGTQIA+ team members.

Published on
6/21/22

By Heidi Newiger, Geoff Taft, Luan Lam-Chen, Chen Shterental

Pride Month is a globally recognized celebration with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Allies (LGBTQIA+). While Pride Month is recognized during different times of the year in different countries, it is an annual celebration to recognize the impact that LGBTQIA+ people have on world history, according to the Library of Congress

For many, it also serves as a call to action for the work that still needs to be done in bringing equality to this community. While we have come a long way, there are still over 75 countries that have laws discriminating against same-sex couples and criminalizing gender expression. 

At Harness we are recognizing and celebrating in multiple ways. In addition to curating an internal list of opportunities to volunteer at and donate to LBGTQIA+ communities across the globe, we host a series of themed social events, including Drag Show Bingo and Pride Poetry Slam. We are also amplifying and celebrating the voices of our LBGTQIA+ team members. 

In this blog, a few of our Harnessians share what Pride means to them, and how they are celebrating. 

Geoff Taft, Senior Director, Growth Marketing

What would you tell your 10-year-old self?

I would tell my 10-year-old self many things – most importantly, not to be embarrassed to love who you love and what you love. People will question your decisions and lifestyle, and they will even introduce doubt, but never regret doing something you are passionate about. We are often fearful to show our true and authentic selves to avoid rejection from the people we care about. Don’t fear the unknown, embrace who you are, and know that life ebbs and flows, but in the end, everything will work itself out. Don’t take life for granted, but make sure to surround yourself with people you love and care about. Even if they’re different from you in appearance, they may not be in their values.

What’s one way people can be a better ally to you?

One way to be a better ally is by simply being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Lean in, ask questions, and understand that you may not always get it right, and that’s OK. No one is perfect, but what’s most comforting is knowing when someone truly cares about you and is interested in learning about your journey. 

Luan Lam-Chen, Chief People Officer

What would you want your 10-year old self to know? 

There’s so much I want to tell my 10-year old self. For starters, I’d tell him that it’s a blessing and curse that he would discover himself much later than most LGBTIQA+ individuals do. On the one hand, he would be forced to learn quickly to be comfortable in his own skin. On the other hand, this would make him resilient, increasing his mental strength and emotional confidence as he comes into his own. I would warn him that he will experience heartbreaks with certain family members and close friends who couldn’t grasp the new reality. I would also tell him that it might take decades, but some of these individuals will eventually come around. I’d tell him to keep his chin up, and in the meantime, keep investing in the family he will organically form with loving and caring friends since they will be the best part of his adult life. 

I’d also tell my younger self that what he thought would be impossible to achieve, he will eventually have and then some. He will find the love of his life, and have the freedom to marry him one day. He will even get the chance to lock eyes with his own son one day, and realize that nothing is beyond grasp. I’d tell him that there will be hard times, but at the end of the day, it will all turn out to be wonderful.

What’s one way people can be a better ally to you?

Allies are important for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only do they help foster a sense of safety, but they can also help advocate on behalf of the community to help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect. 

Here are 5 ways to be a better ally to the LGBTQIA+ community:

  1. Be an open-minded listener
  2. Be inclusive in your everyday life
  3. Be self-aware by confronting your own prejudices and unconscious bias
  4. Be curious by asking questions to seek understanding
  5. Be on the forefront to demand and influence change

Chen Shterental, Software Engineer II

How are you recognizing and celebrating Pride Month?

I celebrated Pride by participating in the Tel Aviv 2022 Pride Parade, which is one of the biggest events of the year in Tel Aviv. This year, there were about 170,000 participants from all over the world. The parade began near the Sporteque on Rokach Boulevard, where flags, hats, stickers, and more were distributed. The street transformed into a sea of loud, proud, bright color, and the energy was explosive as we marched down Rokach to Ganei Yehoshua (one of the largest parks in Israel). When we arrived, there was a big performance with many well-known musicians and dancers, including Harel Skaat, Zehava Ben, Jasmin Moallem, Static and Ben El, and Michael Ben David. 

Tel Aviv is known as the Gay Capital of the Middle East. That being said, there are still people in Israel who don’t accept the pride community, so security at the parade helped us feel safe as we marched and enjoyed the festivities. The event was very fun, liberal, and colorful, and full of energy  despite the very hot weather. It felt wonderful to be able to celebrate, and it was an amazing, love and joy-filled day!  

What is something special about LGBTQIA+ culture you want to share?

One thing I love about the LGBTQIA+ culture is that we are able to be ourselves and show our true colors. Since we have all shared some of the same experiences navigating the world as LGBTQIA+, there is a shared understanding and people are accepting and supportive. There is equality, openness, liberalism, and mutuality in a relationship. As time goes on and the pride community is more accepted, I am proud to see many modern types of families and parents nowadays, including co-parenting. I am happy that the world is making space for our love and it is becoming more normalized.

What would you tell your 10 year old self?

You do not have to love a boy. A girl can also love a girl and that's fine. Be true to yourself – always.

What’s one way people can be a better ally to you?

I am glad to be surrounded by people who accept me as who I am, but this was not always the case. My advice to people on how to be a better ally is to not joke about gays, lesbians, and queers. It’s hurtful and damaging, and there is nothing different about us, except for who we love, and how we feel. It’s a beautiful and welcoming community!

Happy Pride Month!

The team at Harness wishes you a Happy Pride Month! If you want to join us in living our values, “Remember The Human” and “Celebrate Together,” we are hiring across all departments and geos! 

As they say, timing is everything. Interested, but not quite yet? Join our Harness Talent Community on LinkedIn to stay connected and in the know! 

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