On Monday morning, the staff at Out & Equal’s San Francisco office filed into our conference room and mourned together in response to the June 12th massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. We went around the room and expressed our sadness, our anger, our frustration. Some of us sat in silence. Having vented at least somewhat, we then returned to our daily work.
Above anything, we realized what an incredible privilege it was to be able to do this at our workplace– our careers center around LGBT lives, and none of us had to worry about being discriminated against or outed, or judged by our feelings. We were forced to acknowledge that not everyone has that privilege. What about all those closeted folks who are mourning in silence? What about the workspaces that can’t or won’t provide an outlet for grief? What about the people who just don’t want to talk about it?
Have you been able to talk about last weekend’s tragedy in #Orlando in your workplace?
— Out & Equal (@OutandEqual) June 16, 2016
Right now, our allies are more important than ever. The LGBT community has been strengthened by the amount of support that has followed this tragedy. For those who are wondering what you can do to support your LGBT colleagues as they continue to process the attack on June 12, here are a few suggestions:
ALLOW SPACE FOR GRIEVING
Some of your colleagues may be very visibly upset by what happened in Orlando, others may appear unbothered but are struggling internally. Some people can’t stop thinking or talking about this tragedy, others are emotionally drained and don’t want to talk at all. Some people are triggered by all the discussion, and may want silence. All of us are affected, and will mourn in different ways. Have patience with your coworkers as they navigate these feelings. If at all possible, offer a space for people to discuss what happened, or a space to retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed. In larger workplaces, it may also be possible to offer counseling. You can always begin by asking someone, “how are you?”.
COME OUT AS AN ALLY
This is an appropriate time to signal your support as an LGBT ally. Some workplaces encourage allies to place a rainbow sticker in their working area to designate a safe space for LGBT colleagues to express themselves. Temporarily change your Facebook profile picture in solidarity with the victims of the shooting. Attend a vigil for Orlando in your community. When conversations about the Orlando shooting inevitably come up, ensure that your coworkers are talking about the victims as LGBT people and allies in an appropriate way.
JOIN YOUR COMPANY’S LGBT EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUP (OR START ONE!)
A great way to signal your allyship is by joining and participating in your LGBT employee resource group. If your workplace does not yet have an ERG, consider starting one! Out & Equal has plenty of resources for LGBT ERGs available here.
GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR LOCAL LGBT COMMUNITY
Donate your time and/or money to local LGBT organizations. Equality Florida’s GoFundMe and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s OneOrlando Fund have already raised millions in contributions to support the victims of the shooting. Ask your employer to consider matching donations, and/or make a corporate donation to affected communities. Volunteer and get involved in the local LGBT community. Become a member of an Out & Equal Regional Affiliate in your area.
There is little any of us can say to understand why these terrible events happened but every time an LGBT person is able to be their authentic self and every time they are supported by an ally- we move a little further away from events like Sunday happening again.
Thank you, each of you, for your support. Thank you for making this world safer for all LGBT people. And thank you, in advance, for joining us in Orlando this October where we will tell the world: Love always wins!