Queer Community Takes Many Forms Image

Queer Community Takes Many Forms

By Jake Townsend

This blog is part of Gainsight’s celebration of Pride month and all the LGBT+ members of our community.

While working at Disney World, I found community with other queer 18–23-year olds discovering their identities for the first time.

While a graduate student, “queer” was a verb and a critical lens, a way of looking at the world that challenged norms and imagined new possibilities. While playing tabletop and video games with my close friends, fictional worlds became queer spaces to express ourselves.

While growing up as a child in rural Tennessee, queer was a derogatory term. If there was any semblance of an LGBTQ community there, I never found it. Coming into my identity as a gay man has been a lifelong process, and it’s the communities along the way that made it possible. 

Early Community

My first queer community was my undergraduate speech and debate team. My teammates were among the first to learn that I was gay. In collaboration with my debate coach, I wrote a speech for a “standup comedy” event where—in the opening line—I came out as a gay man to the audience. I got to practice coming out over and over again to fellow competitors and judges around the nation. I listened to other speakers with LGBTQ-themed speeches, too. I discovered my passion for social advocacy, and I learned to view gayness as an intersectional identity, one that is deeply intertwined with race, gender, and class.

Queer Is Many Things

I am brand-new to the tech world, but I have had other jobs in corporate. I’ve learned that it takes a concerted effort to make marginalized co-workers feel welcome. It’s certainly important that I can mention my boyfriend, but building an inclusive workspace takes more than that. It takes time. It involves cultural shifts in a community.

Because yes, I am a gay man. But I also love to express myself in writing. I have a lot of nerdy interests, too. I view advocacy, not complacency, as a moral necessity. I value making strong emotional connections with my co-workers. All these traits, to me, are intertwined with my identity as gay. And even if a workplace doesn’t discourage these things, the prevalence of a “professionalism” that doesn’t actively encourage them, in my experience, makes a space less welcoming for marginalized people.

Being Queer at Gainsight

I’ve been at Gainsight for only three months. But what started out as an intriguing mission statement about being “human-first” has become a promise that I’m starting to believe. Gainsight has already given me several ways to make room for myself in such a short time: collaborating on ESG initiatives (to discover what social advocacy means in SaaS), flexibility in my workday (to balance work with life), recharge days (to spend time with my chosen friends and family), and opportunities like this blog (to share my experiences).

As someone who believes that queer identity develops throughout a lifetime, I will always seek out spaces that welcome different parts of myself. I’m excited and optimistic about this new community at Gainsight. As we grow and change, I can’t wait to see how we shape each other.

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