A. I like to think I’m open minded and supportive. But when Martin spoke at one of our leadership sessions about what the ERG means to him, it deeply moved me, and it opened up my awareness even further. He spoke with a raw sincerity conveying how the ERG speaks to him of safety. Then he described his own experiences: simple stuff, like coming into work on a Monday and having a colleague ask what he did over the weekend. And there was this whole thought process that would go on in his head before he answered, assessing whether or not it was safe to say. For instance, if someone asks you about your spouse or your partner, but you’re a man and your partner is a man, you may not feel safe revealing that. I learned that there’s always this subtext of intellectualizing in relating to others. There are concerns of judgment—or much worse—that could have real-world impact on lives and futures.
I additionally realized that while I may feel comfortable with LGBTQIA+ people in my sphere who would tell me what they did over the weekend (with any partner, regardless of gender), I always assumed they felt comfortable with me, too. And I learned that I can’t assume that. Because of the history of how LGBTQIA+ people have been treated, because of a lack of acceptance, because of potential danger from mild slights, or professional impacts, even physical harm. They must be on guard in how they relate and share their experiences. Even though we are here in 2022, and it’s more acceptable, the LGBTQIA+ community must still be vigilant about playing that game in their head, assessing the context, doing the calculus about what they communicate—Asking questions such as, Is it safe? Is it appropriate? How much can I be myself?
That gave me pause to think about the chasm of perception in relationships. It also made me think about all of the things I have taken for granted, and how I can help bridge those chasms to build a more accepting environment at Synopsys.