Blue Yonder fosters a workplace culture that nurtures Diversity, Inclusion, Value, and Equality (DIVE) for all associates to openly express their individuality in an accepting and understanding environment. During Pride Month, it is important to highlight allyship and the role it plays in the LGBTQ+ community. An ally is someone who can interpret and accept perspectives outside of their own. Someone who educates themselves and helps educate others on the challenges of inequality that suppressed individuals or groups face. An ally is someone who will fight for a cause and uses their power or privilege to help amplify the voices of those who are most times silenced.
For Blue Yonder associate Maddi Cook, LGBTQ + allyship means more than attending a protest or signing a petition. It can take form in a variety of ways. Not all who take a stance need to be center stage. Sometimes, allyship means giving people the opportunity to speak their truth andlending a helping hand along the way.
What does allyship mean to you?
Showing up on behalf of the LGBTQ + community as an ally, especially during Pride Month, is not centering your efforts around yourself. Your voice matters, but there are certain conversations where you can be a passive observer. I think that is an excellent example of pride. Suppose you sit, listen, learn, and take what you’ve gathered from others who share their experiences, whether they are friends, strangers on the street, family members, or colleagues. That is an excellent example of being an advocate without taking great action. Also, if someone is trying to tell you something or share their feelings with you, then the best thing you can do as an ally is to take it to heart. Work on yourself first and do some introspection. Reflect on how your reactions in that situation may affect someone. If you feel you’re in a good place to talk openly, then take that into future interactions. Recognize the behavior of people you interact with and acknowledge that some people’s reactions or responses may not be as favorable as others. Call it out if you can and if it’s a safe situation. That’s being the best ally you can possibly be.
Has anyone shown up for you as an ally? How did it make you feel?
I’m a bisexual woman, and I’m in a heterosexual relationship. My male partner and I have been together for 10 years, and I was honest with him about my sexuality when we got together. Since then, I have continued to be upfront and communicative of that expression. He has dealt with some bisexual erasure from my family. Sometimes it’s been tough for him to walk the line of communicating with his in-laws while showing up for me, his partner. Despite those difficulties, he has been phenomenal over the years. He has let me teach him and has been a studious learner in all things LGBTQ+. He is a staunch advocate. We have a two-year-old son together, and we have decided that we will be raising him to know that his mom is bisexual. We want him to see that it’s possible to love people of all sexual orientations. It’s the most beautiful thing. I’ve never felt so seen and supported.
What was the best thing for others to say in your coming-out process to show support?
The best reaction I got was, “Okay.” I was fortunate in coming out, and I was not presented with tremendous antagonism. I can contribute to all the fantastic work toward the progress of generations before me. They walked, so we could run.
But I did have some pretty adverse reactions or just disbelief. That’s common in the bisexual community, especially considering the relationship that I was in. The best response was honestly just neutrality followed by, “Do you need me to do anything?” “Is there anything I can do in our relationship to make you feel more comfortable in that identity?” And realistically, there was nothing they could do at the time, but that response gave me the perfect answer.
With the more unfavorable responses, how did you deal with that?
I’m very comfortable with my sexuality. I knew I was bisexual since I was 11 years old, so I’ve known for a long time. I’ve been very open in my circle of friends since then. My family was fairly conservative before I came out. They were also unaware that people in the family had an alternative lifestyle. Hence, the only people that really didn’t know were my older extended family. With them, I knew I had to set a boundary and just explain to them what that meant for me and my experience. I had to let them know it’s unacceptable to say certain things. You have to back yourself.
I approached the situation feeling that if they didn’t accept me, I wouldn’t stay. Learning is an active process of listening and then changing your behavior. Personally, that particular experience hurt, but the best thing you can do is have your own best interests at heart. Again, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a world where sexual expression and identity are regular.
The important thing is to phase out the inappropriate and support freedom of expression. We are making the right strides to ensure inclusivity and broader acceptance. The more people who stand beside us, the more visibility we receive. Having a great attitude and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable will enhance our ability to strengthen human connection. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable, even if only for a minute, and the world can become a better place.
BYourself is Blue Yonder’s Pride-related Associate Resource Group (ARG). BYourself is open to all associates and where allies are invited to support, encourage, and offer equal opportunity for LGBTQ+ associates, friends, family, and communities. The BYourself allyship specifically provides education and celebration for diverse groups to feel comfortable being their true selves. BYourself is committed to being an avid participant in the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. Learn more about Blue Yonder’s DIVE initiative and BYourself ARG: blueyonder.com/about/diversity.