At Neo4j, our goal is to foster an inclusive and supportive work environment, where every team member can bring their whole selves to work. As we observe Pride Month, we would like to share the experiences of two remarkable individuals who have found acceptance in our company.
AJ Kincaid: Bringing My Authentic Self to Work
In a world that is constantly evolving, some misconceptions about LGBTQ individuals still persist. An often-heard criticism is the supposed overemphasis on the LGBTQ+ identity in public spheres. A popular counterpoint is: “I don’t go around advertising that I’m straight,” though subtle displays of heterosexuality are commonplace.
As a lesbian, I don’t need to state my sexual orientation explicitly. Sharing moments from my life with my wife and our daughter is a genuine expression of who I am. It’s not about reducing same-sex relationships to sexual acts, but rather, acknowledging the depth of our connections.
Reflecting on the past, there was a time when many of us in the LGBTQ community hid our true selves in professional settings. It was a struggle, mentally and emotionally, to avoid coming out, due to the burden of secrecy.
Yet, times have changed significantly since I embraced my identity. At Neo4j, I feel accepted and comfortable discussing the joyful moments I share with my family. This acceptance enables us to be seen as just another family, no different from any other.
Looking back, I recall the sheer elation I felt when companies began incorporating vibrant rainbow colors into their logos a decade or more ago. It was a powerful symbol of recognition and support for LGBTQ individuals, and it still fills my heart with warmth.
To me, Pride signifies the freedom to express my complete identity at work, every day. It’s about no longer feeling the need to hide aspects of my life at the end of the business day, or to withdraw until my next shift begins.
The steadfast support and acceptance I encounter in my daily work activities confirm that Neo4j supports and values the unique perspective I contribute. With this foundation of acceptance in place, it becomes clear that I don’t need a rainbow logo to affirm my place at Neo4j. What truly matters are the genuine connections and shared sense of belonging within our community.
Joe Depeau: A Journey to Visibility and Representation
Pride Month has a habit of creeping up on me. In the era of COVID, with less frequent in-person events and my own personal preference for smaller, personal celebrations, it’s usually an external reminder that brings Pride Month into focus.
This year, my first reminder was in the form of an unexpected but deeply appreciated display of Pride from a client in Edinburgh, Scotland. On a recent visit I saw their office building had been covered with a radiant rainbow Pride message – a meaningful gesture of acceptance beyond mere virtue signaling. This powerful, public show of support for my community made me feel seen, welcomed, and proud.
Sitting in the airport afterward, I reflected on the cultural tensions in today’s world that might mean these kinds of expressions of LGBTQ+ support are derided as pandering to the “woke” liberal left. For me, the real value of my client’s Pride display was crystal clear – it serves as a public declaration of our presence as a community, emphasizing our collective resolve to be recognized and to celebrate our identities. Though LGBTQ+ representation and visibility has greatly improved since I came out in 1992, there is still a big gap, and Pride Month helps bridge that each year.
Being a gay man is a significant part of my identity. Since I’m often perceived as a “butch” or masculine gay man, I sometimes face specific challenges in being visible. I’m not often subject to public bullying, even while openly affectionate with my partner. Still, I frequently find myself correcting assumptions about my sexual orientation, countering stereotypes, and advocating for others in our community.
I acknowledge I have the privilege of living and working in environments that are both safe and supportive of my identity. In the United Kingdom gay marriage is legal, gay parents can adopt, and employment discrimination is illegal. At Neo4j, we actively support diversity and the LGBTQ+ community and I’m grateful to be able to bring my whole, authentic self to work. Yet, this privilege is recent and hard-won, and it’s crucial that we not take it for granted. Some members of our community, notably our trans siblings, are still fighting for basic rights and freedoms.
Even more alarmingly, there are still places in the world where openly identifying as LGBTQ+ is extremely dangerous. These are places where individuals from our community have to live in the shadows out of fear for their very lives – facing abuse, persecution, imprisonment, or even death for simply being who they truly are. This harsh reality serves as a potent reminder of why we celebrate Pride Month and why we strive to maintain our visibility all year round, not just for our own sake, but for those who have not yet been able to benefit from the strides we have made in countries like the UK and elsewhere.
We have come a long way, and for that, we must be grateful – but our journey is not over. For our allies and every member of the LGBTQ+ community, I express, “Thank you.” To our entire community, I proclaim, “Happy Pride Month! Stand Proud and Be Heard!”
Cultivating Inclusivity at Neo4j
As we commemorate Pride Month, we spotlight the power of authenticity and the crucial role of individual self-expression in the workplace. This focus aligns seamlessly with Neo4j’s deeply held values and our company culture:
- We value relationships
- We focus on user success
- We thrive in a culture that is open and inclusive
- We assume positive intent
- We welcome intellectually honest discussions
- We deliver on our commitments
We strive to continue creating a work environment where authenticity isn’t merely tolerated but celebrated. Through open dialogue, education, and support, we can continue to foster an atmosphere that celebrates the richness of LGBTQ+ identities and experiences.
As we celebrate Pride Month, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering equality, respect, and understanding. Our collective effort can shape a workplace that not only welcomes diversity but actively inspires every individual to share their true selves. Here’s to a vibrant and meaningful Pride Month!