Celebrating Pride Month with Ian Barrett
Pride Month is a time of year where we get to celebrate, support and embrace our LGBTQ+ team members and the community. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) are central to Velocity’s purpose and core values – and we are committed to these across all levels and areas of the company.
In honor of Pride Month, a handful of our employees volunteered to share their personal experiences in coming out and what it means to them to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout the month, we will hear from several of our Velocity team members who are proud to share their stories. Coming out stories are deeply personal and very emotional. Every story shared is a unique journey, and no two are alike.
The first story in our “Celebrating Pride Month” series comes from Ian Barrett, who is a Tier 1 Hospitality Support team member who joined Velocity in 2020.
Can you share what it was like for you to come out to your parents and immediate family? Emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc.
I came out to my parents and sister over text. The rest of my family members didn’t find out until I posted a photo of me and my then boyfriend, now fiancé. I can remember just before coming out, I was shaking and nervous while I sent them the text. Then the minute I sent the text, I immediately felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that I was finally true to myself – and not pretending to be someone I am not.
Is there something about how your parents handled or took the news about you coming out that you wish they would have done differently? What advice would give a parent whose child is coming out?
My family has always been open and welcoming to everyone, and I have family members who were already out and with someone who made them happy. However, that doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t super terrifying when I first told everyone I was gay.
Once I told my parents I was gay, I can remember my mom sending me a text back that said, “I love you and am so proud of you,” and I can remember my sister saying pretty much the same thing. My dad’s response was harder to read because he said, “We’ll talk when you get home.” The entire day was just awkward thinking about what my dad was going to talk to me about when I got home. As it turned out, he just wanted to hug me and tell me that he was proud of me and loved me.
My advice to parents is to listen to their child even if you don’t necessarily agree with them coming out. Coming out is a really hard thing to do. As someone who came out, it makes you feel vulnerable and nervous, and we just want to be who we feel we truly are. My experience coming out was completely different than what other’s experiences have been. Some haven’t been as lucky and didn’t have the support that I had. Just listen. As a parent, you could be the first one to hear how your child feels and be able to help them grow into themselves.
Can you share a situation(s) subtle or apparent that you’ve had to face as an LGBTQ person at work or outside of work?
I feel like the only time I’ve had this happen to me was at a previous employer. The individual said to me, “I just don’t understand it.” I asked this person what they meant by that, and they said that they just didn’t understand how people can be gay. So my response was: “Well, we feel the same way as you do towards your loved one, but we just love someone who is, in my case, another man.
Can you share a professional/personal situation where you felt supported and understood and could be your authentic self as an LGBTQ person?
Starting at Velocity I wasn’t sure how I would be able to be myself until my first day of training. The instructor asked the group to share an experience that we would want to relive. The instructor went first and shared their example, after that, I knew right away that I would be able to show who I was so that I could succeed and be myself.
What does an ally mean to you?
To me, an ally supports the LGBTQ+ community. They do not need to be an active participant in Pride activities or culture, but they can be someone who can help people who are in this community just by being someone who is a friend to those who are LGBTQ.”
What are some ways others can support/speak up and become an ally?
I would say to meet people and get involved in activities that revolve around the LGBTQ+ community, which is one of the best ways to become an ally and make a difference! Also, learning and educating yourself on the history of the LGBTQ+ community. It doesn’t have to be like a full in-depth deep dive, but just enough to understand where the LGBTQ+ community has come from and where it is now.
What does Pride Month mean to you? What inspires you to be you?
Pride Month is a way for me to celebrate who I am and what I’ve done to get where I am today. My family, friends, and coworkers inspire me to be my true self. In addition, the relatives I have in my family who are part of the LGBTQ+ community have been the pinnacle of who I strive to be and have always been a source of inspiration for me.
What are you most proud of as an LGBTQ person? What do you hope others take away from Pride Month?
I am proud that I can be who I was meant to be and be a part of a community where people can express themselves in a way that makes them uniquely them. The LGBTQ+ community is an awesome community where people from all walks of life are welcome. For others to understand that it has taken us a long time to get where we are. All I can ask the people who read this is, learn, educate yourself on the history of LGBTQ+ people.
For those looking to learn more and support the LGBTQ+ community, do you recommend any groups, movies, TED Talks, books etc.?
I would recommend looking at the Human Rights Campaign website and GLAAD, and other LGBTQ+ organizations. There are also a couple of YouTube videos that I would recommend as well, including The History of LGBTQ+ narrated by Wanda Sykes. There are also organizations like the Trevor Project focused on suicide prevention for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
How can Velocity be more inclusive and support its LGBTQ+ team members? What can/should other companies be doing?
Velocity has been extremely open and inclusive – and I have only ever had good feelings about Velocity and being able to be myself. It would be nice to see Velocity advocate for people in the LGBTQ+ community and sponsor Pride activities or work with local organizations on LGBTQ issues/education. This would be a great way to help the LGBTQ+ community. I think all companies should show support for their employees and offer support to them if they need it – and I feel that Velocity does a great job of fostering an inclusive workplace.
Thank you, Ian, for sharing your heartfelt story with us. We’re extremely proud of all of our team members, and we are dedicated to ensuring that Velocity is a place of inclusiveness and an environment where all of our team members feel comfortable being themselves and supported.
Let’s continue to celebrate, educate and share the history of Pride. Here are a few resources to better acquaint yourself with organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community:
It Gets Better Project focuses on retelling the stories of LGBTQ+ members who may have had similar issues coming out.
OutRight Action International is the only LGBTQ+ organization that has a presence in the United Nations. They fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ members around the world.
GLAAD for over 30 years, GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. Learn how you can become a friend and ally.