Pride Month occurs each June in many parts of the world, including Canada. Every year, the month of June is dedicated to commemorating and amplifying 2SLGBTQIA+ voices, cultures, and rights. Queer communities and allies participate in events around the world to draw attention to the continuous challenges that 2SLGBTQIA+ groups face, while also celebrating queer lives through vibrant and meaningful celebrations.
In honour of this important month, we sat down and had an open conversation with Randstad’s own Patricio Guiterrez to discuss his experiences with Pride and bullying when he was younger and how it’s affected his personal journey and work life. Patricio is a member of Randstad’s RISE committee (our diversity and inclusion employee resource group) and is an active member of the LGBTQ+ affinity group within RISE.
the history of pride month
Pride Month dates back to June 1969, when the Stonewall Riots shook New York City. The uprising was triggered by a police raid in a popular gay bar in New York’s West Village. Police Raids were common in the 1960s, but this time LGBTQ+ folks responded to the raid by fighting back, leading to 4 days of violent protests. The Stonewall Riots marked a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman and Stormé DeLarverie, a Black lesbian, both important figures in the queer community, are remembered for being people initiating the fight at the Stonewall Inn. Other activists - like Sylvia Rivera, a self-professed drag queen who advocated for transgender rights, and Raymond Castro, a baker who incited the crowd when he fought against his arrest – played crucial roles in shaping the future of queer rights. Following the uprising, in 1970, New York held its first Pride Parade, and many more cities and countries followed in the following years.
In Canada, the first gay rights protests started in 1971 and culminated in 1977 with the Police raid on the Truxx and the Mystique bars in Montreal, which brought thousands of protesters in the street. This event led to a change in the Quebec Legislation, making Quebec the first province in Canada to officially protect sexual orientation and pass a gay civil rights law. The first Pride March in Montreal happened in 1979, to commemorate the 10th year anniversary of Stonewall. The Canadian LGBTQ+ history is rich of events and protests that led to the current situation, where same-sex couples now have the right to marry (since 2005) and where LGBTQ+ people are protected by the law.
To draw attention to the importance of Pride Month and share how this celebration impacts real lives, we sat down and had a (virtual) conversation with Patricio Guiterrez. Patricio is an active member of Randstad Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion employee resource group, the RISE Committee, serving as a member of the LGBTQ2+ Affinity Group. When he’s not loudly speaking up for equality for all, he’s working as a Resource Manager with Randstad’s Staffing Division.
a conversation with patricio for pride month
Randstad: What does Pride mean to you?
Patricio: Pride to me means being able to celebrate one’s true authentic self. Whatever that may look like. I am a proud gay man and thankfully live in a country where that can sometimes be celebrated without fear of being harassed. Pride to me means being proud of who I am as a person, overall; not just based on my sexual orientation. My sexual orientation does not define me as a person, just like my ethnicity and beliefs don't. What does define me as a person is that I am a decent human being that does my best to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect I would like in return. That, to me, is something to be proud of and for all those reasons and more I celebrate Pride. Plus, being gay is pretty awesome!
Randstad: Do you feel Pride month empowers you and other 2SLGBTQIA+ people to speak out against discrimination?
Patricio: 100%! I feel that Pride month empowers 2SLGBTQIA+ people to speak out against discrimination. It shouldn't have to be focused on just one month but at the same time there are SO many things that are going on in the world right now, that it iss important to ALWAYS speak out against ANY form of discrimination. We hear about these horrible things happening to people because of their ethnicity, who they believe in, who they love, and so on. It's very unfortunate to see and hear these things happening all over the world and even in our own backyard. This is why it is very important to be an ally and speak out against any form of discrimination, regardless of the month!
Randstad: Has discrimination affected your life?
Patricio: To this day I still go through the trauma I endured while being bullied. Though at that time it didn’t directly affect me, as I’ve grown older certain things stick out to me more. Maybe if those things weren’t said or done to me, I would be more confident in myself. Maybe I wouldn’t give a damn what people think or what they say. It's important that we continue these conversations. I’m happy we’re talking about it because we have all been on the receiving end of bullying. Some more than others, based on what they look like or who they love, and it truly affects a person. It really takes a toll.
Randstad: Absolutely. How would you say you’ve coped with it?
Patricio: You can only ignore so much before enough is enough. I don’t know if I knew how to deal with it as a kid. I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone. When you're a kid, you feel like someone you just met is your best friend, then three days later they stab you in the back. It creates trust issues. You don’t know if you can trust people with personal things, like in my case, being gay. Back then, I ignored it. I ignored the pain and suffering and just tried to get through it. As I grew older, I talked about it, but even then not to anyone close, just to random people, anonymously, so people wouldn’t know who I was.
Randstad: Have you reached a point where if people bully you, you’re comfortable saying something back?
Patricio: At this point in my life, I’m super comfortable fighting back. I definitely wasn't when I was younger. I was so focused on what people thought and my reputation. Ugh. I just wish I wasn’t so focused on that as a kid. As I’ve grown older, talking to people is what really helped me. Even if I didn’t really know them, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Randstad: Have you ever dealt with bullying in your workplace?
Patricio: In my current workplace I haven’t. But Randstad is the first place I came into, where I was fully out, like full-blown gay. It wasn’t something I was hiding, it wasn’t something new. At my last job, I was out, but I wasn’t fully comfortable with myself yet. So coming into a new environment where everyone was so accepting, regardless of where you’re from, regardless of who you love or what you do, it’s definitely helped me as a man. It’s helped me boost confidence in myself. Not only do I feel like I’m doing well in my career, the connections I have made are so important to me personally. I really needed that in my life.
Randstad: What do you think makes Randstad such an inclusive environment?
Patricio: I’m a firm believer that good people attract good people. I genuinely believe that the energy that you put out is what you get in return. Randstad has such great energy. We deal with all different types of people, people that are well off, people that are struggling, newcomers, people who don’t speak the same language. Being surrounded by so many different people, cultures and personalities helps Randstad be diverse and inclusive, because we get it! The majority of us put ourselves in others’ shoes daily.
Randstad: What do you think companies can do to create a similar work environment?
Patricio: Embracing diversity and inclusion sets an organization above the rest. That’s why Randstad - I feel like I’m trying to sell Randstad here! - is a cut above the rest! I deal with companies who say “I only want women”, or “I only want white candidates,” or “I only want men,” or whatever it is. But, I have to say, “No, I’m sorry. If they have the skills and qualifications, they can do the job.” Companies with that exclusionary mentality don’t have a good rapport, they don’t have good retention, their environments are toxic. There has to be a balance, for any organization to be successful they need to embrace diversity and inclusion.
Randstad: What do you think we should do in workplaces to minimize bullying? Do you think we need to talk about bullying as adults?
Patricio: Yes! It’s an important conversation. We need to be open to having tough conversations. Those tough conversations can be hard, so organizations need their employees to know they have support. They need someone who can mediate, resources, and people to talk to. Otherwise it can become a toxic environment. Now that I think about it, when I started, I wasn’t bullied, but I saw other people being bullied. They did it to make themselves look good, for their own benefit. It wasn’t cool, and it created an uncomfortable vibe in the office. That person no longer works here.
Randstad: I can say that too. Anyone who comes into this organization and acts like a bully, they no longer work here, regardless of how much money they bring in.
Patricio: That’s the way it should be. People with a negative mentality won't get along with the group.
Randstad: It’s not even about getting along. Our environment is fast-paced and high-stress. Negative attitudes really affect productivity. There’s just no space for it. It’s nice when an organization recognizes that.
Patricio: I’ve told a story about being bullied in gym class on my podcast. That guy reached out to me recently and apologized. I guess he has two kids now, and he wants to raise them to respect everyone regardless of their differences. It brought up so many emotions; it was crazy, I wasn’t expecting it. He told me I could tear into him if I wanted, and back in the day I probably would have. But I was like, no, what's the point, that just makes me a miserable person.
Because of the bullying I experienced, it’s still a struggle to make plans and execute them. I get anxious and try to make excuses. I think its because, living my life as a closeted gay man, I was always afraid I would run into someone who knew my secret and I would be publicly humiliated and embarrassed. Part of me, to this day, still feels that way: scared to be shamed in public. Bullying messes you up. It starts small when you’re a kid. That's why it's so important for initiatives like Pride to be in the forefront for us and our kids. It’s so important that these conversations happen, to keep sharing. It might not seem impactful, but we need to keep talking about it for the sake of everyone's mental health.
Randstad: If you think about it, you agreeing to be bold and share your story has positively affected generations!
Patricio: It's true. As a kid you just want to live life and have fun. Then there are these bullies that ruin it. So that’s why WE, as adults, need to put a stop to it.