Cortland Russell
Program and Operations Associate Manager, Atlanta, Georgia
May 17, 2019

Let Me Be Perfectly Queer

Cortland Russell

A one-size-fits-all approach to inclusion will not lift all boats equally.

As someone who identifies as queer, I can tell you that many people in the LGBTQ+ community do not feel valued or able to be their true, authentic selves—in the workplace or any place.

That’s not the case for me.

I’m incredibly proud to work where being yourself is not only okay—it’s expected. Being respected for who I am has been a differentiator in my career, allowing me to become even more successful. The people I work with are open to new ideas, and my perspective and contributions are valued.

But being queer doesn’t always mean the same thing to everyone.

Queer and comfortable
For me, the Q in LGBTQ+ means queer. I’m attracted to mostly men, some women and some non-binary folks—identities like gay, straight or bisexual just don’t work as well to describe me.

The ambiguity of queer identity is something that I find comforting because my own sexual orientation doesn’t fit into a neat box. But queer can also be used as an umbrella term to describe the entire LGBTQ+ community, and, for some people, the Q in LGBTQ+ means questioning.

To me, being queer is not limiting.

“Queer” has not been reclaimed by everyone as a term of empowerment, though. Many people still see it as something negative, and they cringe when they hear folks in my generation or younger use the term proudly.

While the term queer may make some people uncomfortable, it’s how I describe myself. It’s not something that comes up very frequently in business conversation, but I know my co-workers are supportive—no matter who accompanies me as a plus-one at a company function or how I present my gender.

Equity for all
At work, we talk about a culture of equality—but I like the phrase “equity” even better.

We live in a culture where socioeconomic status, race, gender, citizenship and many other parts of people’s identity are often marginalized. I believe we’ll have true equality when inclusion means equity for all—when people are treated the same, regardless of their identity.

We are making progress. Our Pride Network and employee resource groups have a multiplier effect, opening doors that may have previously been closed. It’s not enough that queer white, cisgender men like me are succeeding—our entire community needs to succeed.

Everyone can help. Allies can support the queer community by listening to our stories, learning more about our lives and speaking out against oppression in all forms—both in and outside of work.

Be valued for who you are and do work that makes a difference, every day. Find your fit with Accenture.

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