Our local library recently held its first in-person Drag Queen Story hour since our child was born two years ago. My wife and I were so excited to take our little one to the library lawn to listen to stories, sing, and dance with other similar families.
It was hard not to succumb to tears at the beauty of this simple event. (Although, small confession, I am known to cry tears of joy at some of the most mundane things!) To be gathered in person and join in community again after so many years cloistered in our social bubbles was a revitalizing experience.
LGBTQ+ people have persevered in finding community with one another since the beginning of society labeling us as sinners. The connections built in the secret language of the Polari, the potlucks of the Daughters of Bilitis, and the back halls and trains of traveling jazz shows created a place for LGBTQ+ people to drop the expectations of society and to live fully, joyfully themselves.
Today there are many different LGBTQ+ communities that folks can join to connect with like-minded individuals and add meaning to their lives. From queer comedy tropes, to drag families, to roller derby teams, to Black Boy Joy clubs, we come together to find the safety to grow and the joy of being our full authentic selves.
At Autodesk, we’ve created community through the Autodesk Pride Network (APN) employee resource group. And as the global lead for APN, I find myself reflecting on where we have come as a society, and how far we still must go.
While the rights and protections of LGBTQ+ community have come a long way since the first meeting of the Mattachine Society, there are many members of our community around the world that face oppression from governments and families. Finding these pockets of community provide a respite from an unwelcoming world.
Autodesk has made great strides in creating a better sense of belonging for many of our LGBTQ+ colleagues. For example, we’ve increased pronoun visibility on internal platforms, removed restrictions on gender-affirming health benefits under our primary US insurance vendors, held conversations on gender identity with luminaries such as Janet Mock, Tiq Milan, and Dr. Sand Chang, and signed on to both the business letter in favor of the Equality Act and the Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation.
This is all supported by the hard and often less celebrated work of individuals educating others through conference presentations and smaller conversations within their teams.
I have been especially moved to see folks return to gathering in person with other Autodeskers to celebrate Pride. While I have personally felt comfortable being out in my previous workplaces, I know that has not always been the case for many others, and especially LGBTQ+ people of color.
It is incredibly heartening to see that we have made another community here at Autodesk. I have heard so many stories from folks who have finally found a workplace where they felt comfortable being their full authentic selves.
Thank you to everyone who works every day to continue to make Autodesk an accepting place for so many. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our community.
Learn about LGBTQ+ benefits and resources at Autodesk