October is LGBTQ+ History Month and Oct. 10 is National Coming Out Day. This day honors people’s authentic selves as sharing who we are is not always safe or easy. As Allies, we need to acknowledge the impact of the support that we can offer the LGBTQ+ community all year round, including recognizing significant days like today. In honor of the day, we spoke to Blue Yonder associate Randy Buffon (he/him) who shares his story.
Tell us about yourself and how you ended up working in technology.
I have spent almost my entire career working in retail. My first job was at a stationary store and then I worked part-time at other retailers while getting my bachelor’s in business administration. After graduation, I continued working in retail, moving into a store management role with Office Depot and then being asked to relocate to Florida to work in their corporate office. Over the course of my 30-plus-year career, I worked for eight different retailers. All the jobs I held always had tech projects intertwined with them, so coming to Blue Yonder was a great fit! I’ve had many intersections with Blue Yonder over the past. I’ve been here a year and a half working in Customer Success where I get to partner and interact with so many customers to support their transformation journeys.
Are you open to sharing how you identify?
I identify as bisexual. I came to that realization when I was 54 years old. I guess you can say I was a late bloomer. As I look back and think about my journey, particularly when I was younger, I didn’t know what bisexual even meant. I realized I had an attraction to both men and women. The younger generation today has a greater understanding of sexuality, which wasn’t the case when I was growing up. I did what most people think they should do: I got married and started a family. After my mom passed away 11 years ago, it became more real that I needed to accept and really own up to my orientation.
When you shared your authentic self with others, what was the one thing that surprised you?
I have to say that in general, the coming out experience, people are very accepting. I think a lot of times in our heads we build it up to something bigger than it needs to be. For the most part, the reaction has been very positive.
Obviously, when I came out to my wife, it was a different situation. We both did individual counseling and joined support groups. She is definitely an ally and is very supportive. Together, we joined a couples group called HUGS – Hope-Understanding-Growth-Support. I also joined a group called Husbands Out to Wives (HOW). It has about 1,000 members mostly in North America and Canada but also worldwide. The group is for men who identify as not straight and have been or are married to women. I joined the board a few years ago and have been very involved.
On the flip side, there are some people who cannot be out or don’t want to be out, and their experience is also valid. What would you say to them?
As I have gotten older, I think of being out differently than I did seven years ago when I first came out. Part of it is this worry that you are going to lose connections with people when you come out to them or they will treat you differently. It’s hard not to think about how coming out might destroy your career or marriage or other worries like losing family and friends or not being accepted. You have to be comfortable enough to do it. For me, I wanted people to see all sides of me, not just one side. Having said that, I do still only show one side when I meet someone for the first time until I get to know them. But for me, being out to those that matter in my life is an important part of my identity.
Editor’s Note: We at Blue Yonder believe everyone’s journey is valid and worthy of respect, whether they are out or not. We understand there are parts of the world where it may not be safe to be out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and we want you to feel seen and supported regardless of your decision. Living authentically isn’t about adhering to any one narrative or path — it’s about finding what feels right and safe for you. We honor and stand with all members of our community, wherever they are in their journey.
What is your advice for someone who is supporting someone who has come out?
I think that Allies should be open-minded. One of the experiences when we moved to California was joining a Facebook group where they offered weekly get-togethers. For me, it was a learning experience to see the diversification of people in the group, from age to race to sexual orientations, as well as gender expression and identity. Being open minded allowed us to talk to people and learn about them, so we could understand their point of view and where they are coming from – as well as the spectrum of the umbrella of people who are LGBTQ+. This helped my wife and I grow together in appreciation that we are all different but with many similarities too.
BYourself is Blue Yonder’s Pride-focused Associate Resource Group (ARG) and is open to all associates; the ARG 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.