The conversations we started in June about the concerns and challenges of the LGBTQA+ community need to continue throughout the year.

Pride Flag

Pride Month 2022 has come and gone; the flags have lowered, and the parades have ended. But the concerns and challenges of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual (LGBTQA+) community persist, so the conversations we started in June need to continue throughout the year.

At my company, Granite Telecommunications, Pride Month was a monthlong celebration with education, guest speakers, fundraising and a new employee recognition program produced by Granite RockOUT, an employee resource group for Granite’s LGBTQA+ community and their allies.

As chair of Granite RockOUT, I’m involved in developing our Pride Month programs and working with our volunteers to harness that energy throughout the year. So, in this blog, I’ll share highlights of the conversations we started. In later blogs, I’ll dig deeper into some key issues.

How We Celebrated Pride Month

As part of Pride Month activities, Granite RockOUT hosted several events for Granite teammates, including:

  • A Keynote Address by Ryan O’Callaghan – Ryan is the former NFL offensive tackle who came out as gay in 2017, following struggles with self-acceptance and suicidal thoughts.

  • A Virtual Panel on “How to Succeed in Corporate America as an OUT LGBTQA+ Professional” – This event featured panelists from across industries and geographies.

  • Pride Flag Raising – Granite’s 12 locations around the U.S. displayed Pride flags during June

  • Pride Leadership Award – Granite RockOUT launched the Allison Ordway Pride Leadership Award, which is given monthly to a Granite team member in memory of a Granite teammate who passed in 2021.

  • Wellness – Other Pride Month activities included wellness and self-care events.

What We Talked About During Pride Month

Granite’s Pride Month activities presented many opportunities for LGBTQA+ and allies to spend time together, enjoy each other’s company and have meaningful conversations. The top takeaways were around these topics:

  1. Mental Health – Well-being was front and center in many of our conversations during Pride Month. The problem is very real. According to the American Psychiatric Association, LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime. It’s understandable. Coming out and being out at work is a source of stress for LGBTQA+ individuals.

What can they do? Some strategies LGBTQA+ individuals can explore include working at a supportive company like Granite, joining an employee resource group or community support group, and consulting with mental health professionals. Listening to the stories of professionals like Ryan O’Callaghan and others about their struggles and victories also offered encouragement.

What can you do? You can join us in supporting groups for LGBTQA+ mental health like the Ryan O’Callaghan Foundation and The Trevor Project for suicide prevention.

  1. Leadership – Our panel discussion with LGBTQA+ pros highlighted that corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives take a long time to produce results.

What can they do? To accelerate that impact, LGBTQA+ individuals need to speak up and participate in a positive way. It doesn’t matter whether your day job is in the mail room or the boardroom – lead by example. To borrow a phrase, “Don’t ask what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company.”

What can you do? Ask your employer what you can do to support their DEI initiatives. Then, just do it. If they don’t have a DEI initiative, advocate for one.

  1. Communication – Ironically, during our conversations, we discussed how problems often arise from lack of communication and misunderstandings. For LGBTQA+ individuals, feeling misunderstood is a common state. Opening up to others feels risky, especially at work where co-workers’ personal attitudes and beliefs often aren’t known or shared.

What can they do? LGBTQA+ individuals can seek out a circle of trust. An employee resource group like Granite RockOUT is one example of a safe place to meet other LGBTQA+ and allies at your workplace. There, you can be yourself, communicate your feelings, and find empathy and support. Give it a chance; you might be pleasantly surprised.

What can you do? Reach out. Whether you are LGBTQA+ or an ally, it doesn’t matter. Say hello and make a friend. Start a conversation … about anything. Build your own circle of trust.

  1. Self-Acceptance – Finally, we talked a lot about self-awareness and self-acceptance. For LGBTQA+ individuals, developing a positive sense of self can be a challenge. Because they may experience discrimination, a sense of otherness or shame, they may not fully accept their sexual or gender orientation. Coming out is the journey toward self-acceptance.

What can they do? Coming out is different for every person. It happens at different times, different ages and in different ways. And it also may not be a single moment in time but a lifelong process. LGBTQA+ individuals can be patient with themselves and seek support from those they trust or counselors.

What can you do? A huge part of self-acceptance hinges on being accepted by others and being part of a community. Whether you’re LGBTQA+ or an ally, you can help to advance DEI by supporting your employer’s DEI initiatives, getting involved in your DEI employee resource groups and engaging with local LGBTQA+ organizations. Or you can simply be a friend to your co-workers regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Each of these conversations was more in-depth than can be covered in a single blog, so we’ll be exploring these topics in greater detail in the coming months. Meanwhile, I hope you will also continue (or start) conversations with Pride!

Raul Medina is National Relationship Development Manager at Granite Telecommunications and Chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for diversity and inclusion. Granite RockOUT was formed in 2019 to support Granite’s LGBTQA+ community and their allies. Its mission is to create a culture of positivity and acceptance within the Granite workplace so that all teammates feel welcome and enjoy their work environment. For more information, visit Granite at

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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