Celebrating Pride Month is always a special occasion for members of our Zoom Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG). Working with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team, we put together a series of sessions that showcased the wide range of voices within our LGBTQ+ community and shared different points of view, all in line with our core value of Care. We were grateful to celebrate Pride Month together and unite our community with the theme, “One World, One Pride, One Zoom.”
A conversation with Kal Penn
We partnered with our DEI team to host our first Zoom Talks session, where our Zoom Pride lead, Mike Adams, sat down with actor, writer, and former White House aide Kal Penn.
Kal, who took a hiatus from acting to serve on the Obama-Biden administration, talked about what it meant to him to work on the team that repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a bill barring openly LGBTQ+ individuals from serving in the U.S. military. “For a younger generation [that may not have grown up with the bill] it can be easy to take for granted, but I look at it as an incredible sign of progress — the things we take for granted today because of the efforts others have made 10, 20, 30 years ago,” he said.
In addition to his political career, Kal discussed his memoir, “You Can’t Be Serious,” and shared stories from more than 20 years in show business. Reflecting on the impact of streaming services on diverse storytelling, he said, “There are all these different shows we wouldn’t have been able to see if technology hadn’t been what it is now. Diversity is a huge component of that, and as a gay performer of color, it’s something to celebrate.”
Parenting with pride
We welcomed executive director Lilith Rose and board member Kelly Kozak from the San Francisco chapter of PFLAG, an organization that supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ people and their families, for an intimate conversation hosted by Zoom Pride member Michelle Calvillo. Michelle and Kelly shared their stories as parents of queer and transgender children and discussed ways to support loved ones.
Lilith shared some important stats and information from The Trevor Project’s latest survey involving LGBTQ+ youth, and opened up about their own experience. “Acknowledge the steps we’re taking in this brave new world,” Lilith said. “If we’re trying out something, experimenting with gender, names, or pronouns, celebrate that and say, ‘I’m happy you’re happy — you’re discovering your true self,’ because you would want that same treatment if you were discovering your true self in any regard.”
Writing for pride
Zoomies gathered virtually and in person at our San Jose, Denver, and Kansas City offices to write letters for Point of Pride, an organization that provides gender-affirming support to help trans people live more authentically.
This hybrid event gave us a chance to come together and feel a sense of community, even though we were all in different cities. We’re grateful to our Zoom Pride community lead, Jem Jensen, for organizing the opportunity to take action to support trans people with positive, affirming messages in the form of handwritten notes.
Jem shared, “I was fortunate enough to work for an organization with a DEI program where I met my first out trans person. I credit that moment with eventually finding myself and through that I’ve found so much peace and joy. That is the power of visibility. I am involved in Zoom Pride because we never know when being visible will be the spark that changes someone’s life for the better.”
We hosted a panel of Zoom employees from different backgrounds, generations, and countries, who identify as LGBTQ+. They told us about their professional and personal experiences, touching on topics such as the HIV crisis and safe and unsafe spaces where they live. They also shared how allies can be supportive of the LGBTQ+ community in and out of the workplace.
One panelist, Annie N., said, “However you identify — whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or not — we must keep our compassion and love for others. A big part of that is to stand up and say, [we need to include] everybody.”
“If you hear derogatory comments or jokes or offensive language, speak up,” John F. said. “Call them out. That little grassroots movement is what’s going to help our community in general.”
Drag pride with Benjy Bradshaw
Musician and performer Benjy Bradshaw gave us a history of drag and led a makeup tutorial in our final Pride Month event. He encouraged Zoomies to grab their own makeup brushes and palettes and join in on the interactive makeup session.
“Don’t feel like you need to conform to anyone else’s standards,” Benjy encouraged. “Drag is about life and living. Believe in yourself, wear your makeup with pride, and don’t let anyone dim that light.”
It’s been an incredible month of celebrations, community-building, and learning. We’re thankful to our Zoom Pride members and allies, DEI team, and all the speakers and guests who opened up and shared their journeys during our Pride Month events.