Starting my career without having to hide who I am
A story about new achievements for the LGBTQIA+ community
I remember my first day. I was so nervous when I arrived there that I didn’t even have breakfast. It was all new, new interns that were also on their first day, a new office with a lot to explore, a new team, a new mentor. The first impressions came along, the first tasks, a whole day full of “firsts” and, at the end of it, also a new decision. I wasn’t going to announce my sexuality this time.
It would be my first time not “coming out” since I learned what not coming out really meant. I came out to my mother but not to my father. After the break-up of my first relationship, one day he came to my room to say dinner was ready and asked me how I was feeling. I answered by asking him if he knew that I had a romantic relationship with her. He said: “Wasn’t it obvious?” and “I don’t care who you’re with, as long as this person makes you happy”. That day I realized how important not coming out was.
An announcement wasn’t necessary since I didn’t need anyone’s approval.
So I didn’t come out. Not even for my team, that until I joined was composed only by men, or to my mentor, whom I got very close to. I do not recall the exact moment it happened, but I do remember that it was during a conversation before a trivial meeting. We were talking about relationships and I mentioned my girlfriend. And no, it wasn’t awkward. I personally did not want that to be a big announcement. And I kept on “not coming out” during casual happy hour conversations.
The only thing that mattered to me was my parents’ support, which I already had. Of all the privileges I have, not coming out was the one I chose. But being white, cisgender, and having my parents’ support really made the whole acceptance process a lot easier. Performing femininity also spared me from embarrassing situations.
All these points led me to occupy a space that does not welcome us, that is not comfortable for minorities and that is evolving at a slower pace than it should. Seeing myself in that space was an important start, although this journey still doesn’t include those who are most affected, who need it most and should be there.
Pointing out the importance of representativeness may seem a little too obvious, but we only notice it when its lack affects us. After all, how do you notice something that you don’t see or feel? On the other hand, how to occupy a space that does not seem to belong to you? It is uncomfortable and it does not fit – until you see a change taking place.
A few weeks after my first day at VTEX, my team recruited another woman developer. The following week, there was an event about diversity. These are baby steps.
Considering the needs of the many minorities, settling for these small steps is far from ideal.
It is important to know that it is little, that even the most inclusive and diverse will still be little, and that while it is not comfortable for everyone, it is still not right.
It’s a matter of celebrating the small achievements in order for these to make room for bigger ones, and of understanding that it is not about “giving a voice”, but listening and letting those who are not being heard speak.
So let’s listen and do our best to make these voices louder and louder.
VTEX is committed to raising awareness among its employees and the external public.
If you care, want to build a more equal workplace and be part of it, come work with us.