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Growing up in a conservative and traditional environment, it was instilled in me that once I finish my studies, aside from having a job, I would marry a man to build a family. I understood it was a blueprint as society dictated.
In 1996, we were asked to get in line for a school activity. I was pushed aside by a classmate who told me I don’t belong in the girl’s section because I looked like a boy. In high school, friends and family teased me and questioned if I was a gay woman. It was a scary time in the ‘90s for me as a closeted queer woman — LGBTQIA+ members were being bullied and not portrayed equally in movies and TV shows.
The pressure continued after graduating 2009; I began to look for work. Looking for a job was easy, but being accepted and treated equally in the workplace was a challenge. I was mocked, gossiped about and criticised for how I looked because I didn’t fit what others pictured as a woman.
Fast forward to today: I’ve been with Genesys since 2016 and find it fulfilling to work in an environment where I can be myself. I no longer need to ‘out’ myself; I can even be an advocate for my fellow LGBTQIA+ friends. We need to amplify and strengthen the support group, including our allies. I am truly grateful for how Genesys steps up in creating support groups to strengthen our advocacies — where we’re in a safe place to be ourselves.
Following are the stories of my Genesys colleagues so you can know their journeys as well.
Robert Billing, Senior Manager, Channel Marketing
My story isn’t remarkable. There’s nothing particularly interesting about my story or surprising. I am who I am.
I knew I was queer from a very young age and candidly, I did try to fight my way around it. I tried to assimilate to the life and expectations society perceived was best for me. The adage of growing up in Australia: a man meeting a woman, falling in love, raising a family and growing old together. It was all meant to be picture perfect in the eyes of the society that I grew up in. But that wasn’t for me and I knew it. I am a man who wanted to love another man. That was my “picture perfect.”
I came out to the world as a ‘happy’ queer man at the age of 18. I was fresh out of secondary school; the world was my oyster and all those around me wanted me to be happy. I ran to the beat of my drum and never looked back. The year was 2004.
It wasn’t until December 2017 that same-sex marriage was made legal in Australia via a referendum. For those wondering what a referendum is, it’s a direct vote, in this case, by the entire eligible voting population of Australia who was to decide whether same-sex couples should be given the same rights as everyone else. Those were troubling times, but I can tell you things worked out; Australia has marriage equity. But this isn’t the crescendo.
I joined Genesys in January 2016. I have a husband who I have been married to both illegally and legally for 10 years (a story for another time). From the moment I walked through the Genesys doors in Melbourne, my team and my colleagues have always known who I am. There is no grand coming out to my colleagues story here. In fact, there isn’t any time in my tenure at Genesys where felt the need to make a statement about who I am or whom I love. My career is mine; the choice of the company where I have decided to build my career is mine.
Everyone’s journey in life is different. We all come from different parts of the world where views may not be the same. However, I believe in being open-minded, being kind, and ensuring everyone can be accepted and encouraged to be their authentic selves at work and in life.
Francis Gersaba, Revenue Operations
The never-ending struggle within me with regard to accepting my identity has lived for so many years before I could break free. To give you a very brief background about myself, I’m the youngest among the three siblings. I have two older sisters and I’m the only child who can carry on my father’s surname as expected in Asian culture. But deep inside I knew it would never happen.
I pretty much had a normal childhood except there are times I felt so different in a sense that I’ve always been feminine, which is contrary to the norms of society. During my teenage years, I was very lucky to be surrounded by friends who embraced me for all that I am. But in the back of my mind, I still wasn’t fully living my authentic self — something was incomplete. It was during that time I discovered the word ‘transgender’ through Tyra Banks’s talk show. I still remember vividly how powerful that moment was — seeing yourself being represented on media and telling the world that your existence is real.
Years have gone by and I still couldn’t seem to gain the courage I needed to live my truth. I just told myself that one day the right time would align and the only universe would tell me. Two of my greatest fears then were that I wouldn’t be accepted by my parents and in the workplace. It wasn’t an easy journey.
Finally, the time I’d been waiting for had arrived. It was my break free moment when my internal struggles and fears ended. I was ready to live my authenticity — mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. I had the courage to come out to my parents. At first, the conversation was hard but it was all worth it. They’ve shaped and nurtured me with love and, for that, I will forever be grateful. I worked at Genesys when this happened. My colleagues made it feel right and easy because of its people and culture. The empathy and diversity values transcend every employee. I’m so blessed to have supportive management and colleagues who empower my utmost potential. I feel safe here and it feels like home.
We’ve come a long way in society compared to decades ago when we faced discrimination. But there’s still work to do. Biases and different levels of discrimination still exist. Awareness is no longer enough.
I look forward to a day where the majority stands against discrimination and biases — and allies speak up against prejudices. I look forward to seeing more organisations truly accept and embrace a culture where being queer is no longer an issue. And I’m confident that LGBTQIA+ discrimination will only be part of our history.
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