Last Tuesday, I went to Chase-Morgan to give a talk as part of their month long celebration of Pride month. Chase Morgan is one of the many companies that are investing in their employees and are ensuring that they are an ideal workplace. It seems they want to be able to foster a kind of workplace environment where people can feel safe and secure so that they can be creative and productive. A happy worker is a productive worker. I couldn’t agree more.
Their amazing Pride team, composed of people from different departments, put together all these activities and symposiums and forums to talk about LGBT issues to cater to the over two-hundred fifty employees who either are a member of the LGBT community or are a proud supporter.
I couldn’t be happier and prouder to have been asked to come and speak. Not having any real experience in dealing with LGBT issues, I stuck to what I know: HIV awareness and prevention. It definitely has a lot to do with the LGBT community and there was a message I wanted to communicate. I wanted to say that this generation has it easier than gay men and women of previous generations. There is more tolerance now than before. They are more inclined to actually be free and be who they are. But with that freedom comes the responsibility of being more careful. You can’t have freedom without accompanying responsibilities. You have to take care of yourself and you have to take care of the people around you.
That’s the heart of the HIV situation, for me. The growing number of HIV cases tell me that even as we try to bring the information to the people, the people have not changed their ways and are still actively doing things that put them at risk. Bottom-line: we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not taking care of each other.
I think, in a workplace setting, this becomes like a double message. Yes, it works in the context of HIV but it also works in the context of a team effort. Are you out there for yourself only or are you out there for everybody, for the final product, for the success of the entire endeavor? I think it resonates on so many levels. It can be our nation. It can be our work environment. It can be our sex life. Are we taking care of ourselves? Because if we don’t, everyone suffers.
I’d like to think that the talk came out okay. We had a room of a bit over thirty people and, considering the time, that was a lot, or so I was told. I was approached by people who told me they wished it lasted longer. While I was speaking, I could see people nodding their heads and really listening. Speaking alongside me was Dr. Marasigan, who talked about LGBT issues, discrimination, and bully. As a sociologist, doctor, and academic, he was more scientific and better prepared. I’d like to think that I was able to ground it into an actual experience and with a sense of drama.
We worked well together, I’d like to think and I hope that we were able to make the attendees think long and hard about how they work, how they interact with each other and with everybody else.
I always find myself wondering why I let myself be cared for and let my family and friends save my life two years ago when I was practically on my deathbed. I really couldn’t see what else I can have done and I didn’t want to have to go through all the pain of getting sick again. I didn’t want to live with debts and constantly watching myself from every corner. I didn’t think it was worth it, really. I am happy with my life and with what I’ve done with the amount of time and the few bits of wisdom that I did. I couldn’t think of myself as being of any more use at all.
And then there are talks like this that I get to be a part of and I can see why. There’s still so much to do. I can still be of use. And this is all good.
I can still do good while I’m here. I am thankful for the second and third and fourth chance. The fight is far from done. This soldier is marching on.