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      July 13, 2021

      My Coming Out – A continuous process

      As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and based in my own experience “Coming out” is a Personal, Social, and Professional continuous acceptance process.

      Contrary to popular belief, “coming out” for us LGBTQIA+ members, is not a once in a lifetime event; on the contrary and based on my own experience as a Gay man, it’s a process. Being a Queer person hasn’t been easy, especially in a challenging environment. I knew I was Queer when I was 2 or 3 years old, but it wasn’t really until I got to my mid-20s that I came to terms with it and accepted myself. Only then I felt comfortable talking about it with my closest friends and later with my family.

      I started to work in Continental, back in 2010, in the Plant in Cuenca as an Intern in the Purchasing Department. After one year and a half, I got the opportunity to continue my studies in another city, so I briefly split ways with Conti. Luckily, I returned to Conti in Quito at the end of January 2013. In 2017, I moved to Hannover, Germany to take on my current position.

      I had two live at a certain point: one at work and another one outside my professional sphere. One of the main reasons why I kept this separation was the heteronormative culture at work. For example, with some jokes or conversations, people just assumed that I have a “girlfriend” or “wife” and their following up questions just helped to create a certain image of me. At some point I found myself saying “partner” to reply, and sometimes I still do. Frankly speaking, I was afraid that this approach might affect my professional career, as not every member of the spectrum feels safe to come out in all areas of their lives, and not every member should feel the need or pressure to do so.

      In my case, I realized that I didn’t want to keep walking down this road, it can be exhausting, confusing, emotionally drowning, and stressful. Therefore, I started sharing my true identity with my closest co-workers, which allowed me to build stronger and trustful relations. I also found and joined the Co-Pride Community in Continental, where I learned how other LGBTQIA+ members in our company live proudly and supporting each other, including our allies who are an important part of our community.

      At the beginning, I was shocked that within our company such a community existed, but then I realized that Continental is concentrating its efforts to establish a more inclusive and safe environment by improving its corporative policies, making Diversity-Awareness sessions and participating in CSD & Pride events. For sure there is still a lot more to do and achieve in terms of diversity and inclusion within the entire organization, but today I feel completely empower to live my true colors at work and open up about it.

      As an activist, I stand up for holistic diversity and inclusion at our workplace, because we all must be able to feel free to be who we really are.

      This article was written by our employee.

      Jose Calle

      Global Sea & Air Freight Manager