“Are you married?” asked the cab driver. I looked down at the engagement ring and wedding band on my left hand.
“Yeah.” I smiled.
“Where’s your husband?” he asked. “Why isn’t he going out with you tonight?”
My smile slowly faded. It’s a judgment call every queer person has to make, often multiple times a day – at work, school or other public spaces. How much information do you share with a stranger? I live in Canada, in Vancouver. Surely it’s safe to be queer here.
The reality is, in 2019, police reported over 300 hate crimes across Canada that had to do with sexuality or gender identity/expression. So, not as safe as we all think.
That’s why it’s so important to have leaders like Chris Forward, General Manager of Harvey's Oil Ltd., a Petro-Canada distributor that sells and distributes petroleum products throughout Newfoundland. Last year, we interviewed Chris about his work as co-chair of Pride at Work Canada, an organization that supports Canadian employers as they build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Suncor (the proud parent of Petro-Canada) is a member of Pride at Work Canada.
This year, in the following video, Chris shares his passion for being able to bring your true authentic self to work and for leaders, like himself, to be out and open at work – to show employees that it is safe for them to do so.
I love how Chris closes this video:
Live by the Leaf to me means: We represent all Canadians. And we lift up all Canadians. No matter what their background is.
The Suncor queer employee resource group, PRISM, has put together the following list of links for folks who want to be an ally to the queer community or if your workplace wants to foster a welcoming and authentic environment.
- 2SLGBTQI Terms and Concepts from Egale Canada
- History of Canadian Pride from Queer Events
- Flip the Script: Sexual Orientation in the Workplace from Catalyst.org
- Pronoun Resources from MyPronouns.org
- Listening, referrals and advocacy from 2LGBTQ+ peers at P10
- Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre
- Pride at Work Canada
Back to my cab ride. In the end, I chose an ambiguous answer “My partner is meeting me at the restaurant.” Fortunately, the cab driver left it at that. All the more reason to appreciate leaders like Chris – and to look forward to the day we can all be our true authentic selves everywhere.
~Kate T. (she/her)