Simon Heckhuis is the Marketing Manager, DACH at Trintech. For Pride Month, we asked Simon a few questions about LGBTQ Pride and what the month of June means to him.
What does LGBTQ Pride mean to you?
Pride to me is a celebration of different people and their true selves. It is about accepting people for how they are, no matter how society might want them to be. Also, it is important not to forget that pride is a protest and there still is a lot to protest: Trans rights are still non-existent or under threat in many countries, LGBTQ people of color still experience more hate than their white counterparts and non-binary and gender-queer people are still heavily misunderstood. There still is a lot to protest about and a lot of issues that need to be addressed. So while I love pride for the celebration of every human being and their individuality, it is important to understand its roots and use it to shine a light on the issues that still prevail.
What are ways people have demonstrated they are allies that you would recommend for others to consider?
I think one of the most important ways to show allyship is to listen to LGBTQ experiences with an open mind. This will help to understand each other and to hear from different people how you can be an ally. Personally, I don’t fully know and understand every part of the LGBTQ community. At the end of the day, because I am a white cis-gendered male from a good socio-economical background my experience was very different to many other people in the LGBTQ community. So, for me, it is always important to recognize that and take others experiences seriously and listen to them on how I can be an ally to them.
Other things you can do is to educate yourself about LGBTQ issues, for example by reading up on the issues or watching documentaries. Hearing the stories of e.g. trans people in the Netflix documentary “Disclosure” can be very powerful. Another thing, all of us should do, is paying attention to language. Slurs like “that’s so gay” instill the notion that being gay is a bad thing.
What does an inclusive culture at work mean to you?
An inclusive culture at work means that I am able to bring my true self to work every day and that that will be accepted and does not hinder me doing my work or my progression. At Trintech, I never felt like I needed to hide my sexuality or who I am. However, I have recently realized that, while I never wanted to make my sexuality a part of my “work-self”, as it doesn’t matter for the job that I do at all, it is important for me to be openly and vocally out at work to create a more inclusive culture at work. Seeing people who are openly part of the LGBTQ community can help others to feel more comfortable with bringing their true selves to work too.
What have been some of the most exciting changes you have seen with regard to support for the LGBTQ community and what do you hope to see in the future?
One of the most exciting changes in my opinion is representation. Members of the LGBTQ community are shown in a much more diverse manner nowadays than just the occasional flamboyant white cis-gendered “token gay” that might have appeared on television when I was younger. While that was a good start, the LGBTQ community is much more diverse than that. There are now individuals like Sam Smith, Lil Nas X, Laverne Cox, Elliot Page and Ryan O’Connell representing a much wider range of LQBTQ people and experiences.
I think we are on a good path towards ever more diversity and acceptance, however many communities still face a lot of hate and just because most societies seem to be accepting cis-gendered white gay men, such as me, we are not living in a universally accepting and diverse society yet. There are still many parts of the LGBTQ community that are misrepresented, misunderstood, suppressed and hated on, and as long as not everyone can live their true authentic self, we still have a way to go. So for the future, I really wish that we can be more open and accepting of each other, because at the end of the day, we are all humans and deserve to be living our true authentic self.