Out & Equal's Pinknic event boosts marriage campaign, workplace awareness
by Aleksa Manila -
Special to the SGN
All shades of pink from fuchsia to raspberry were certainly everywhere at Pinknic on August 18. This second annual social networking event produced by Out & Equal Seattle, committed to ending employment discrimination for LGBT employees, was held at Amazon's downtown Seattle campus. Amazon is home to one of Out & Equal's Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), a network of LGBT workplace advocacy committees. ERGs have also been established at Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Boeing, Disney, Expedia, Google, Hyatt Hotels, Microsoft, Perkins Coie LLP, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Starbucks, and many other companies nationwide.
In addition to the social aspect of the event, with raffle prizes, music, and entertainment, the event chose to support and advocate for the Pride Foundation's Why Marriage Matters campaign, for which it raised over $5,000. The event highlighted an ask spearheaded by Michael Mattmiller, former chair of Out & Equal, which raised over $2,000 alone from participants donating in the hundreds - mostly from Starbucks, which matched their donations.
The campaign, a series of on-camera interviews, is part of an ongoing public education effort in partnership with several community-based organizations. The interviews, which feature same-sex couples, opposite-sex couples, and local community leaders, offer compelling stories and personal testimonies about why marriage matters to us all. The foundation believes that marriage means family in a way that no other word can, and that same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons as anyone - as a public vow and lifetime commitment to the person they love.
CREATING SAFE WORKPLACES
Judah Travis, programming chair for Out & Equal and law student recruiting manager at Perkins Coie, says, 'Supporting marriage equality means that I work toward creating the vision of how I feel my life should turn out, according to the picture I've always had in my head - married, happy, equal to others, and living a beautiful life.' Travis coyly adds, 'With a hot husband.'
Travis, who was stage-shy at the event, was the lead event coordinator for Pinknic's success. He is involved with Out & Equal because, he says, 'there's so much work to be done - bringing people together, educating others (both GLBT and straight allies), providing a sense of community and connection. When much is given, much will be asked. It's a responsibility to be active.'
For many LGBT employees, safe space is a key element of professional success and well-being. Out & Equal believes that people should be judged by the work they do, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. The organization works to protect and empower employees to be productive and successful, so they can support themselves and their families and contribute to achieving a world free of discrimination.
This is not true for everyone. Travis remarks, 'Not everyone needs to be out. Each person has his or her own timeline to come out - either they are not ready to share that, or they may not work in a culture where they would be safe or successful.'
He asserts, however, that 'I want each person who is considering coming out at work to know that others have been where they are now and stand with them and for them, and they have the help of organizations like Out & Equal to educate managers, executives, and co-workers to come out safely and constructively.'
Out & Equal is dedicated to equal policies and benefits, talent management and professional development, workplace climate, community commitment, advocacy, and corporate responsibility. Travis trusts that 'by being involved, men and women in the Puget Sound can make new contacts and seek new employment opportunities with organizations that will not only encourage them to be out, but celebrate with them.'
For more information about Out & Equal, visit www.outandequal.org/seattle. To learn more about, or donate to, the Why Marriage Matters campaign, go to www.pridefoundation.org/whymarriagematterswa/.
Aleksa Manila is the host of Pinknic.
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