Love who you are

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box (unknown). 

I love this quote.  Crayons are the simplest of things yet the metaphor around diversity, tolerance and acceptance rings true.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of taking part in the Pride Parade, a highlight of 2016 Auckland Pride Festival where the rainbow community (those identifying as LGBTI as well as their supporters, friends and families) came together to celebrate and be proud of who they are.

As a member of the rainbow community, I was overwhelmed by the support shown by everyone and it made me realise how grateful I am to live in a country where tolerance is promoted.  Yes, I know New Zealand is not perfect but the the intention to recognise and appreciate the rights of all people makes me proud to be a Kiwi.

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From being fearful, curious, cautious, to trusting, the workplace can sometimes be a challenging environment to find one’s place in the ‘organisational scheme of things’.  At times I feel quite protective of myself and may not readily share details about my wonderful partner/husband.  To this day I guess I am still trusting myself to be okay with people’s reactions, the majority of the time it has been a positive response.

You can imagine how difficult it can be when you hear people make snide or derogatory remarks about people who are not ‘straight’, or even when the word ‘gay’ is used to describe something as not being good or inferior.  Yes, it is hurtful to hear comments like this I find it unacceptable for people to create unnecessary stereotypes.  My wish is for people to ‘call it out’ when others use words in a demeaning way.  We can only begin to make realisations when it is brought to our consciousness.

Times have changed in New Zealand and most people personally know someone who is gay, or knows someone who does.  In fact, it could be a family member, friend, colleague, neighbour etc…

At my workplace Unitec we have the ALLY Network which made up of gay and straight staff and students who want to support the building of an inclusive working and learning environment for all.  I am proud to be connected to this group and have experienced first hand students who have openly talked to me about their same-sex partner.  How natural and normal to share what is important in their lives.

So at this year’s parade I stood alongside my colleagues from Unitec and bravely waved our banner.  It read the words… LOVE WHO YOU ARE.  I don’t think anyone would disagree with those words.

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A few years ago (or even one year ago) I would have been too apprehensive to write a blog about this topic, but taking part in the event was liberating and taught me to embrace who I am.  I am so glad I have shared this experience with you.

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