When I was a child, I would sometimes go to work with my father.
Once, there was this tall guy who worked at my father’s business. My father pointed to him and respectfully said, “He is a very handsome man.” People didn’t talk like that in Mexico. So, I asked my father why he said that, and he answered that being a man didn’t stop him from seeing positive attributes in other men. He taught me how to see all kinds of beauty in all people. I was with my father the first time I saw a drag queen, whom he referred to as “her”, showing me how to respect people’s chosen pronouns. He taught me how to respect everyone for their individual attributes, and this became my standard, I wanted to be that person who you feel comfortable talking to.
Because my father saw the beauty in every person he met, I learned that everyone is beautiful. I identify as bisexual because I see the beauty in everyone.
My mother discovered I was bisexual one day while I was sitting with her and my younger sister. She wanted me to talk to her about it; my sister told her to let me be, and that I would talk about it when I was ready – my sister is a huge ally. It didn’t take long for my mother to become a supporter. I consider myself lucky. Only a minority can say that it was complicated for them for a short time only. Some families of LGBTQ+ never get over it.
For those people, I want to be a shoulder to cry on, one who listens. If you don’t struggle then you have the ability to help others not to struggle. If you have, you have to give. Love comes first, the rest will follow.
I took this approach with me when I started working at Amdocs Guadalajara over five years ago. We were only about 50 employees. I worked as a business analyst, but I am also a trained psychologist, and also wanted to be involved in people engagement. Our General Manager was so open and encouraged me to set up an inclusion committee. Initially, this didn’t include LGBTQ+. Later, we added a sub-committee for LBGTQ+ members and allies.
We needed support to get our activities off the ground. Often multinationals have complex corporate cultures that complicate running these kinds of activities. But I discovered to my surprise that Amdocs Israel has THE committee and supported us with branding, budget and more. Locally, our government backed us, and sent experts to talk to our employees about legal and human rights perspectives of LGBTQ+.
We started running conferences to educate people about the community. This prompted many people to ask about the use of pronouns, about gender and transgender. I noticed that people are curious yet often afraid to ask questions, believing they’re supposed to automatically know everything. It’s important that they understand that it’s OK if they don’t know, as long as they ask questions respectfully. It’s the first stage in making people feel included.
We’re taking small steps. Amdocs participated in the Guadalajara Pride Parade in early June. A decade ago, these parades were a fight for human rights, today they are a wonderful celebration.
Michelle Ceja Zaragoza