Working With Pride Pt. 1

Featuring Tim Sroka
  June 17, 2020

With everything going on in the world, we’re reminded how important it is to celebrate Pride. This month some of our SmartBear family members have bravely opened up to give us their insights, which we’re releasing as a series of blogs throughout June. It centers around what this month signifies, what has and hasn’t changed, and what being out at work means for them.

Name, preferred pronouns, role at SB

Tim Sroka, he/his/him, Master of Marketing Ceremonies (aka, Program Operations Manager, Marketing) 

What does Pride mean to you? 

Honestly, it’s a lot of things that can’t be summed up in one statement. My tl:dr version of what would be my novella on “what does Pride mean” to me is that it’s being comfortable, happy, and free to stop code-switching to my “straight self.” It’s saying “screw you” to having to quietly ask with every interaction I have if what I say and do is “too gay, too queer, too discomforting.” Pride, simply put, means being my true, authentic, weird, wacky, queer, creative, vulnerable self who brings who he is to everything he does without question or hesitation. 

What does it mean to you to be out at work?

Woof – that’s complicated and hard. While I want to say that living in a progressive area of the U.S. makes it easy to mention my boyfriend during those water-cooler moments, I don’t feel comfortable talking about my gay life openly and freely while at work. Part of that is my baggage that I’m working on to be more confident after years of being told I’m not “man enough.” Or, as with where I grew up, fearing that I could be fired for referring to drag queens I follow on social media, or telling a colleague that my weekend plans include going to a gay bar. We may think this reality is something of a bygone era. Nope. It happens and the justification often is: “You’re just not a culture fit.” Being out at work isn’t merely about making sure that local, state, or federal laws protect queer people. It isn’t about saying, “Oh, I have a gay, lesbian, bi friend. You should meet them.” And, it isn’t about just having an employee resource group or a Pride month initiative. Being out at work is about being treated like a human and having no assumptions or stereotypes projected on me about my moral character, intellectual capability, or ability to connect with others. As with what pride means to me – being out at work is being able to come in and not question or fear what my colleagues will think, say, or do simply because I’m gay.

This year’s a bit different, but are there particular Pride-related events you’ll be attending?

I don’t know really. There’s so much going on in the world right now. I don’t think re-creating events we’d normally have in person (parade, block parties, drag shows, etc) is something I’ll actively look out for. I know I’ll work harder to listen, respect, and act more to bring light to injustices that occur for those of us who are “other.” So, I’ll be attending and doing anything towards that end.

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues? Any history LGBTQIA+ lessons you’d like to share?

We all need to read up on what heterosexual privilege is and make strides to open, welcome, and support us to not fear anymore. Ask us questions. Talk to us. We don’t bite, but we might throw some shade or give you a read (it just means we like you). 

Lastly, what’s your favorite Pride song or queer anthem? 

I can create a Spotify playlist for this. There are too many songs that get me dancing….but to be brief

  • Pride song to karaoke to: Your Disco Needs You by Kylie Minogue
  • Pride song to lose myself in a dance trance to: Dancing on My Own by Robyn 
  • Pride related recording that will get me to tear up ASAP: Harvey Milk’s You’ve Got to Have Hope speech (text and recording)
  • Pride song that always puts a smile on my face: Grace Kelly by MIKA
  • Go-to Pride song/anthem: Let’s Have a Kiki by Scissor Sisters