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  • Writer's pictureJustine (Jay) Warne

How to Deal with Queer Spotlighting at Work During Pride Month

This blog post is talking to my queer community, but everyone is strongly encouraged to read.



Graphic of a rainbow with the words 'Proud Everyday' and 'JW Career Consulting'



It’s Pride Month, a colourful time of celebration, recognition, and visibility for the LGBTIQ+ community. We have a chance to honour the struggles and triumphs in the fight for equality and acceptance, with the month’s origins deeply rooted in the history of the gay rights movement.


While I genuinely love seeing company logos change and rainbow flags flying high, being a queer person at work in June can start to feel overwhelming. This can be because of queer spotlighting—the extra focus and attention placed on LGBTIQ+ employees during Pride Month. There's often an unspoken expectation that, because I'm out and proud, I should be deeply involved in Pride Month activities.


What is Queer Spotlighting?


Queer spotlighting is the extra focus and attention placed on LGBTIQ+ employees, particularly during Pride Month. This can manifest in various ways, such as being asked to share your story, appearing on promotional materials, organising a lunch for your straight colleagues, or simply being asked, “Is there anything fun happening for Pride Month!?” While visibility can be empowering, it can also feel like a burden if you’re not comfortable with the attention or if you simply need a break.


Being Out and Proud Every Day


It’s important to acknowledge that being out and proud at work is a daily commitment to authenticity, and it’s not always easy. You can celebrate your identity and support LGBTIQ+ causes in ways that feel right for you without feeling obligated to participate in every Pride Month event. Here are some key points to remember:


  • Your Identity is Valid Every Day: You don’t need to prove your ‘pride’ to anyone.

  • Personal Boundaries Matter: It’s okay to set boundaries around how you engage with Pride Month activities, just as you would with any other aspect of your professional life.


You're Allowed to Have a Break


Maybe last year, you were the driving force behind your company’s Pride Month campaign. You organised events, spoke at meetings, and became the face of LGBTIQ+ inclusion at work. This year, however, maybe you feel the need to step back.


It’s perfectly fine to take a break and let others take the lead. And if you step back and notice that no one does anything, that might be a ‘non-rainbow’ flag that your employer isn’t who they said they were.



But I Don’t Want to Let My Community Down!


Have an open and honest conversation. Talk with your chair of the Pride Committee, your manager, or whoever you feel like you are letting down. Explain your need for a break and your reasons for not wanting to be in the spotlight this year.


  • Example: "I appreciate the opportunity to organise the Pride Month events, but I need to take a step back this year to focus on my personal well-being. I would, however, like time during June to attend these events and enjoy them.”



Use Your Rainbow Lanyard-Wearing Allies


I know many organisations are filled with allies rocking their rainbow lanyards. Let them know how you are feeling about the month and share your concerns with your trusted colleagues. They can offer support, advocate on your behalf, and ultimately help share the workload.


  • Example: "I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the attention this year. Could you help by taking on some of the responsibilities or ask some of the other allies for me?"


 

Navigating queer spotlighting at work during Pride Month can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that your identity and contributions are valid every day of the year. Whether you’re out and proud every day or need to step back from the spotlight this Pride Month, it’s okay to prioritise your comfort and well-being. By reflecting on your needs, communicating clearly, seeking help from allies, and asserting your boundaries, you can navigate this period with confidence.


Remember, it’s perfectly fine to take a break and let others lead the celebration this year.


And for those not out at work or those questioning – I know from personal experience that the increased visibility can start to feel pretty uncomfortable. Know that your journey and timing are your own and you deserve to feel safe and comfortable above all else.


 

To learn more or discuss your queer experience at work, you can schedule a Queer Career consultation with Jay.



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