Pride at Work Is Priceless, but It's Nice to Be Paid

A company supports queer employees and allies with compensation.

Pride at Work Is Priceless, but It's Nice to Be Paid

Work Friend

When rainbow flags and corporate logos are everywhere in June, it is meaningful to see an employer support their queer employees with compensation.

Margeaux Walter, The New York Times Photo Illustration.

This article is for you

By Roxane Gay

June 18, 2023

Send your questions about work, money, careers, and the balance between work and life to EMAIL. Please include your name, location or request anonymity. The letters may be edited.

Pay to Parade

We are usually present at local parades and festivals. As part of our work, we have a team who organizes outreach events. The team members are paid for setting up a booth, talking about the business and signing people up for membership.

Staff are willing to work for free at some events due to the increased interest. The local Pride Parade is one of these events. My company has many employees who identify as L.G.B.T.Q.+. We usually bring a banner to march as a group.

A member of the L.G.B.T.Q.+ group at our company sent an email to the entire group, the vice president and the director for diversity, equity, and inclusion, demanding that everyone marching in the Pride parade be paid. Is it acceptable to pay people for marching in the Pride Parade?

-- Anonymous

Your company seems to be doing this. Employees who are required to take part in the Pride Parade should be compensated for their time. Although it would be nice to receive compensation for participating in a Pride Parade, I don't think that is realistic.

During the month of heritage and cultural affinity, many companies offer only lip service. You can see the Pride Flag everywhere in June. Companies change their logos so that they include the rainbow. They organize events, send newsletters, etc. These gestures, while well-intentioned, are often superficial and fleeting. All of this disappears on July 1 until the next year.

Let's not discuss the many reasons why people might resist (or resent), something like this. We often make decisions in organizations based on the idea of causing the least friction. This means that they are not making much progress.

Even now, it would be very meaningful to do something different. Support queer employees and their allies by compensating them for Pride. Consider the positive aspects of this idea instead of all the negative ones.

When is the right time to stand my ground?

I am a lesbian employee of a large educational technologies company that services the K-to-12 markets. Our support line is frequently contacted by customers from Florida, Texas, and other states who want to bypass any L.G.B.T.Q.+-related content. My company is not taking a position on the antitrans and "don't mention gay" legislation that has spread like wildfire. We have not received a clear response to the questions of colleagues who have asked about what our company plans to do. The answers that we receive often sound like political doublespeak. After a career that spans over 20 years, I'm considering leaving my company. Do you think that I should take a different approach?

-- Anonymous

You are looking at this in the right way. You are looking at it in the correct way, given the challenges that L.G.B.T.Q. We will lose even more ground if we do not take a stand now. Your employer is trying to do what many other companies are doing - appeasing everyone by saying nothing.

This is a disgrace and it sets a bad precedent, allowing a vocal minority to control everything from health care to curriculum. Your employer must do the right thing, which is to refuse bypassing or erasing L.G.B.T.Q. Content and technology should never be used for discrimination against any group. Managers can show their support for queer employees through both words and actions.

It's perfectly acceptable to leave your workplace if you feel unsupported or if your employer is doing things you think are harmful to your community. This must be a very difficult decision for you to make after two decades. I can only imagine the pain. Your company's actions are a reminder that an employer is neither a friend nor an ally. In general, businesses will make decisions to benefit themselves. You should also do this.

Pronoun Etiquette

If you haven't asked before, is it okay to ask about pronouns when speaking alone to a new coworker to make sure that you are using the correct one?

-- Anonymous

It is perfectly fine to ask about pronouns. This shows that you care and are considerate. You also recognize that there is a range of genders. We can't assume that the way someone looks is how they identify. By asking about pronouns, you can eliminate any ambiguity. You will also ensure that your colleagues are always addressed in their preferred manner.

The limits of care

How can you as a health worker deal with homophobia or transphobia in a patient's case? What strategies can you use to deal with this situation when dismissing the person is not an alternative? Since I do not own my office, I am employed by someone else. The patient will have to come to my office on days when I am not working because my employer won't let me lose the income. This is not ideal. What are my rights?

-- Anonymous

The solution provided by your employer is not ideal. There are very few options when it comes to dealing with racism. Patients can select medical providers based on their preferences. You may not have recourse but I'd love to hear from medical professionals about this.

I know that many healthcare workers of diverse backgrounds have to deal with bigotry from patients. Burnout is a major factor in the medical profession. It's not uncommon for patients to visit the office during your "off days", but it would be much better if employers refused to deal with bigots.

You should be treated with respect and in an environment where discrimination is not tolerated. It's up to you whether or not you want to continue working in this environment. If you cannot, then it's time to look for a new job. I wish you all the best in your journey through this.

How much is too much?

I used to identify myself as a cis woman, but last year came out at work as nonbinary/genderqueer. At a staff meeting, I shared that my pronouns were now she/her/they/them. I told my team that I preferred to be called they/them, but that "she/her was fine too." It was a positive experience, but in the months that have passed, I've not heard anyone refer to me as they/them. This is starting to bother. They should affirm at least some of my pronouns. It helps me feel known and seen.

Am I making it too difficult for my co-workers by not insisting that they/them be used all the time? What part of my gender fluidity or spectrum can I expect them to acknowledge? It is too much to expect them to use both she/her at times and they/them at other times?

-- Anonymous

By asking that your pronouns be respected, you are not making your colleagues' lives difficult. Your colleagues believed you when you said "she/her was fine too" and shared your pronouns. It is more comfortable for them to use what they feel comfortable with than for you.

You'll need to state your preference without offering she/her. In a perfect world, everyone would use both pronouns. It's not too much, but you may have to be careful in the workplace because of a wide range of attitudes and knowledge about gender identity.

You can contact Roxane Gay by email at EMAIL.

Roxane Gay, an endowed professor at Rutgers University, is a feminist, media and culture expert. She has written 'Opinions,' a forthcoming book, and contributes to Opinion. URL

This article appeared in the New York edition, Section BU, page 3 with the headline: "Pride is Priceless but it's Better Paid." Order Reprints - Today's Paper - Subscribe

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