In celebration of Pride Month, a time of action and celebration of the LGBTQ2S+ community, we’ll be sharing the open and honest experiences from some of our LGBTQ2S+ team members and how they’re sharing their Pride this month, and beyond.
This is a time for all of us to spotlight progress and equality by virtually bringing together people from all walks of life under a shared rainbow of diversity and inclusion. Ryan Pinheiro, a member of our Customer Experience team, shares his coming out story and the importance of being an ally.
Tell us about yourself and your experience coming out as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
My coming out experience was methodically planned with back-up plans and contingency plans, as I was not sure how my parents would react. I first came out to my best friend when I was 18, then came out to my sisters when I was 21. At the age of 25, I was ready to tell my parents. I had graduated university, was working full time, and had money saved for rent should it go bad – but I was fortunate the latter wasn’t needed. When I finally broke the news to my parents, my mom (a former Catholic Women’s League president) accepted me and said, “She always knew.” My dad stayed quiet and never said a word. This was typical of him as he never shared his feelings and was very much the “macho” dad.
The next day, I heard a knock on my bedroom door – it was my dad. He started by saying how proud he was that I was the first of the family to graduate from university and to have a full-time job. He then proceeded to congratulate me on coming out as gay and extended his hand for a handshake. I burst into tears and said to him, “it’s not like you get promoted to gay dad. You are born with that distinction.” Then he just hugged me and said, “you will always be my son and will always be part of this family.”
It was then that I finally felt I could be me – because my family accepted and loved me for who I was.
What has the experience of navigating the workplace as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community been like for you?
In the early stages of my career (outside of Rogers) I was faced with barriers – like being told I was too feminine to hold a position of leadership and that I needed to act a certain way. I faced discrimination for the colour of my skin and for how I sounded.
However, when I joined Rogers, that all changed. I was embraced, I was accepted and, most importantly, I felt valued.
The biggest challenge I still have is when I am reporting to a new boss and I have to deal with the “coming out” again. While we have a long way to go for all inclusion, I am proud that bringing my whole self to work didn’t limit or prevent me from collaborating. In fact, it empowered me to use my leadership platform and my role in Spectrum (Employee Resource Group that supports LGBTQ2S+ employees), to continue encouraging all employees to bring their whole self to work.
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt the most pride for your community.
It was October 2019 during LGBTQ2S+ History Month, and as Community & Giving Chair for Spectrum, I worked with our Regional teams to lead a National Volunteer day where we volunteered at organizations across the country to give back to our community. I loved the engagement that was seen across the country and was especially proud that the team in Toronto set an all-time high for most kits created at Casey House. What was even more amazing about this event is that we had a team from Tech Support (all allies) show up, learn, and feel empowered and aware of the issues our community faces.
Knowing that events like these brought people together for a common good and opened people’s hearts to embracing diversity, it just speaks volumes to the people who call Rogers home.
Allyship extends beyond the month of June – How can allies support the community throughout the year?
To all my colleagues and friends who are allies – join in the celebration, wish your “identifying” colleagues a Happy Pride and help be the catalyst for driving an inclusive culture. I want to wish everyone, especially allies, a “Happy Pride” because it’s allies who also stood in the face of hate, who attended protests, who volunteered and made a difference.
Our community comprises of one of the most diverse groups of people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. When everyone can bring their whole self to work, we can collaborate inclusively, innovate diversely, and make more possible.
How will you be sharing your pride this year?
If all goes well and we can get together, I plan to have a small get together with my closest friends and family for a Pride BBQ and of course, attend our internal Pride events. I also am excited for all the events that will happen across the summer months as we continue to celebrate pride from coast-to-coast-to-coast!
Thank you, Ryan for sharing your Pride!