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Past Pride & Present Practice

As Pride Month 2018 draws to a close, I just realized that it was 30 years ago that I attended my first Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day parade in San Francisco. I was a not-yet-legal aged tenderoni, still taking tentative steps toward publicly identifying myself as a gay man.

Growing up in North Carolina, I had never been around that number of LGBT people — or their allies for that matter — so the San Francisco parade and gathering were both a revelation and overwhelming to me.

As the parade snaked its way down Market Street, my astonishment caught me with every turn of my head. After years of isolation, I could hardly believe that this teeming mass of humanity-probably 100,000 strong — was same gender loving-identified (the reappropriated “queer” had not yet come into popular use).

I wrote in my journal that night that while there were some sights that made my eyes widen with wet-behind-the-ears disbelief, “most of the people just looked so…normal!” (Don’t judge; it was 1988! I later understood how Pride was meant to push the boundaries of so-called “normality.”)

Even though we have a long way to go with full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people into the fabric of daily life across the nation, as a young man I never could have imagined the strides that we have made in these 30 years (Married? Me??).

Yours Truly, 1988. I loved that flattop.

Last year, I had the honor of being profiled in the Bay Area Reporter’s annual Pride issue, talking about the culture of Kapor Center. I shared that “with the freedom to be ourselves at work, we lead by being who we are, out and visible, representing where the voice needs to be heard.” The Kapor Center has robust LGBTQ+ representation on staff — roughly 25% of our team — and while our organization doesn’t focus specifically on LGBTQ+ issues, we are fiercely dedicated to creating the space for community leadership that is informed by a layering of identities.

These values are infused in the change we are trying to make in tech. Last month, I was thrilled that we recognized Monica Ann Arrambide at the Kapor Center Impact Awards. As the founder and CEO of Maven Youth, Monica uses tech pathways and platforms to empower LGBTQ+ youth. It’s enormously important work, both for the young people she serves and for the future of tech overall.

Equally as important, I continue to learn and draw inspiration from my fantastic, on-point Kapor Center teammates. I’m constantly impressed by the way that Josh Torres, who manages our Latinx in Tech initiative, has brought his fully-unapologetic self to this work and to the Center. The multitude and aggregation of his experiences — Puerto Rican, queer identified, partnered, activist, and experienced tech professional — inform everything about the form and substance of his work. We talk a lot about intersectional identities at the office, and it’s clear that this kind of multi-sided perspective enables our initiatives to be more fully thoughtful and inclusive.

Similarly, I continue to learn from (and be challenged by!) Jonathan Garcia, an Associate on our Community Engagement team. Jonathan is a straight-identified ally, unbothered by traditional gender roles and expectations — he carries a pink phone, referred to his brothers as the “loves of his life,” and introduced the practice of “pronouns of choice” to the Kapor Center. He is partnered with a young writer who has completed her first book of beautiful and heartbreaking short stories, and he’s a staunch advocate for inclusion across the board. Expect to hear more from these fellow staffers in the very near future.

The Kapor Center strives to be an example of organizational inclusion in practice. So as we celebrate Pride, I think I’m most proud to learn and be inspired from these and other colleagues who are “just so normal” — yet so outstanding. Knowing this, I’m optimistic about what lies ahead.