Celebrating Pride 2020: Many Faces, One Community

At Asana, we look forward to Pride month every year. It’s a time for our Team Rainbow community to celebrate the impact of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the world, as well as recognize all the work that is still to be done. Last week, we made the conscious decision to pause our Pride month programming to focus on holding space for our Black employees, as well as connect through real talk town halls on race.

The Stonewall Riot, the birth of the queer liberation movement, was led by Black trans women, most famously Marsha P. Johnson, in response to police brutality in the queer community. Our ability to celebrate this month has been made possible by queer people of color, specifically queer Black activists, that have put their lives on the line time and time again. 

To our Black queer community, who carry years of compounded experiences of injustice: We see you, we’re here for you, and we wouldn’t be able to celebrate without you.

This year, Team Rainbow is celebrating the diverse people and identities that make up the queer spectrum, virtually. We’re grounding our Pride celebration in the theme of Many Faces, One Community to show that we’re not losing the sense of community and support that Pride means to us every year. This is both a recognition of our unique qualities, and a reminder that together, we are a part of something greater. 

To kick things off, we’d like to introduce you to just a few members of our Team Rainbow community from all over the world. Get to know them in their own words and see how they take pride in who they are. 

Sebastian Gibson, Customer Success Onboarding Consultant, San Francisco 

“When coming out of the closet, I made a promise to myself: that I would always be myself, unapologetically. At Asana, I am able to do just that. I have the mindset that I’m in a safe space, I’m a professional, and it’s ok to be 100% myself. With all of that top of mind every day, it allows me to bring my whole self to work. 

The Team Rainbow community has provided me with a safe space to learn about the many faces that make up my community—from allies to community members that don’t share the same pronouns as me. It’s all been a constant learning experience, which empowers me to care for and love my community better. When I think about being part of the queer community as a whole, ‘visibility’ is what comes to mind. It’s more than a group of people to vacation, laugh, and do life with—the queer community is about being seen, fully.  

This year during Pride, I plan to remember those that came before me, appreciate those that fight for us, and (virtually) celebrate everyone around!”

Sean Kavanagh, Office Manager, Dublin 

“A lot of my hobbies and interests are intertwined in queer culture, from my favorite TV shows to the many musicals I love! Creativity is at the forefront of almost everything within queer culture and I believe the world would be a less colourful place without the LGBTQ+ community.

Globally, Asana puts such an emphasis on championing diversity and ensuring we’re all comfortable every day at work. I’ve never worked at a company where I’ve felt more comfortable bringing my whole self to work every day. Asana’s open and supportive environment makes it a very special place and I’m proud to call myself an Asana. We boast an inclusive and welcoming office community, raise LGBTQ+ awareness, and celebrate diversity. This is evident from day one, as Team Rainbow and our other ERGs are highlighted during new hire onboarding. 

Pride is going to look very different this year but I’m looking forward to celebrating with our very special virtual Happy Hour! I’m also excited to see Asana represented with our submission in the virtual Dublin Pride Parade.”

Libby Robinson, Software Engineer, Vancouver 

“When I made Vancouver my home 9 years ago, the community here gave me a family in an unfamiliar city. The people I’ve met through the queer community here constantly remind me to embrace and love the differences we all have, and to go out of my way to make others feel included.

In the simplest sense, I’ve never had to ‘come out’ at Asana. From day one, I could show up exactly as I am, with no assumptions. Little details like seeing preferred pronouns next to everyone’s name, constantly remind me what an open and inclusive place this is. My favourite part of the Team Rainbow community at Asana is seeing how many people outside of the queer community show up as allies, both at events and in conversation. That is really powerful, and makes me feel so supported.”

Erfaan Arif, User Operations Specialist, Sydney 

“I really struggled with my queerness for a long time growing up. A large part of it had to do with the lack of acceptance from friends, family, and myself. Ultimately it was the queer community that was really pivotal in helping me through these times. We’re a unique community; we’re all so diverse and different, but what brings us together is our shared commitment in wanting equality for all and to be freely ourselves. 

At Asana, I’m allowed to be human and bring everything that makes me who I am to work. It’s my values, passions, insecurities, and quirks, showing up with me every day. It’s what makes Asana the most authentic team I’ve ever worked on. It’s been amazing to see the amount of effort that goes into creating a safe space that makes all of us feel connected and valued. Catching up on the Team Rainbow Slack channel is at the top of my list when I start my day. I work in our Sydney office and it’s been a great way to still feel connected (and join the important Drag Race debriefs!).

This Pride month, I’m continuing to make sure we’re all lifting each other up and celebrating the queer community and reminding ourselves to continue being unapologetically ourselves. My friends and I always say that Pride should be every day of the year!” 

Azoacha Forcheh, Business Data Scientist, San Francisco 

“Being part of the queer community means acceptance and self-reflection. I spent my teen years so afraid of what it would mean to be queer that I denied that part of myself until recently. Now, I’m at peace with it and in love with everything that comes with it.

At Asana, there are no assumptions about gender and sexuality. People make the effort to use gender-neutral terms and share their preferred pronouns. I also feel comfortable talking about queer culture and dating without fear of ‘consequences.’ Team Rainbow is one of my favorite things about Asana! I struggled with being openly queer when I first joined, and everyone in the ERG was so supportive and kind to me about it. It also helps that our events are amazing—we’ve had game nights, beer tasting, and movie nights!

This year I’ll be enjoying cocktails and a virtual party with my queer friends back home!”

Ben Watkins, Product Marketing Manager, New York

“Being part of the queer community means that I’m able to express myself in whatever way I feel comfortable, not only without fear of judgement but also feeling celebrated for it. All Asanas appreciate the value of an individual’s perspective and understand why these viewpoints help us in our professional roles. This empowers me to contribute in meaningful ways, without fear of judgement. In turn, I make sure my colleagues feel heard and appreciated. As a product marketer, it helps me tell a better story, and as a company, it helps us build a better product.

As a newer Asana and starting remotely, getting culturally ingrained has proven a bit more challenging. Not only has Team Rainbow planned great programming to help me feel more welcome, but the Slack channel is always alive with interesting articles, videos, and conversations to help me feel more connected to other Asanas.

This year to celebrate, I’m doing everything I can to make sure my queer friends and colleagues feel supported, not just during Pride, but every day!”

Ruthie BenDor, Product Engineer, San Francisco

“Queer community takes different shapes in different places and times, but what’s remained constant for me is how it’s been a wellspring of connection.

I worked in majority-queer organizations for the first five years of my career and our straight colleagues used to joke that they added diversity. At Asana, I feel like I have my own community where I can have authentic conversations and create connections built on trust. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to facilitate Queer Peers, our monthly safe-space discussion group for Asanas who identify as queer. 

This year I’ll be having Zoom dance parties and, in lieu of the Pride parade, socially-distant motorcycle rides with friends!”

Russell Abdo, Integrated Campaign Manager & Team Rainbow co-lead, San Francisco 

“The queer community is so vibrant and vast. It represents a celebration of our differences, but also recognizes that there’s an underlying bond that ties us all together. I feel like I’ve been shaped by queer nightlife, culture, and activism. I’m a more open, vulnerable, and creative person because of this community and the people that comprise it. 

Bringing my whole self to work means that my identity is vital to my success. At Asana, I want to do amazing work because my team supports me fully, regardless of who I am or how I choose to identify. Having the support from my manager who sees my involvement with Team Rainbow as being just as important as the time I spend planning marketing campaigns, means the world to me.  

Team Rainbow was one of the reasons I had so much love for and interest in Asana in the first place. I remember getting invited to the Asana Pride brunches back in 2017, before starting at Asana, and thinking, ‘Wow, how cool would it be to work at a place like that?’. Now, as one of the Team Rainbow co-leads, I have an opportunity to continue shaping those experiences for my own team, and soon-to-be Asanas. Being a part of Team Rainbow means an opportunity to connect with Asanas across the business, and has been a fast track to finding ‘my people.’

This year, I’ll be spending Pride virtually with Team Rainbow, but I cannot wait to continue pouring time and energy into the amazing queer people that have shaped who I am today.”

Celebrate with us

We’re so excited for an entire month of pride programming, community, and celebration. Follow along with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using #teamasana to see even more from our Team Rainbow community.

Special thanks to Sean Kavanagh, Sebastian Gibson, Libby Robinson, Erfaan Arif, Azoacha Forcheh, Ben Watkins, Ruthie BenDor, Russell Abdo

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