Pride Month Co-Leads Liz Mattin and Flip Clark share the inspiration for this year’s theme

For Pride Month 2019, we celebrate love in all its forms. This year, our LGBTQ+ employee resource group Pridebox chose the theme Love is ___. This theme emphasizes inclusivity by allowing people to consider what love means to them as well as others. During the month we’ll be asking members of Pridebox how they fill in the blank. But first, Pride Month Co-Leads Liz Mattin and Philip “Flip” Clark talk about the inspiration for this year’s theme and the meaning of allyship.

Liz and Flip

Can you tell us more about the theme: Love is ___?

Liz Mattin: We wanted to show that the LGBTQ+ rainbow 🌈 is broad and encompassing, and that love can take many shapes. In short, we hope that the theme emphasizes inclusivity and encourages people to think about all the ways they can finish that sentence for themselves. Do they have different answers or answers in common with others in a way that they wouldn’t expect? Do other people’s answers get them thinking or broaden their concept of love? We believe that there are so many ways that love can be expressed, but in the end, Love Wins. 🙂

Flip Clark: Love means something different to everyone; there are as many definitions of love as there are humans on the planet. The history of LGBTQ+ activism is a story of expanding access to love and fighting to allow people to define the path that they choose. Celebrating love in its many forms is the cornerstone of our Pride celebrations and the ethos behind our embrace of intersectional LGBTQ+ diversity at Dropbox.

Why did you get involved with Pridebox?

LM: Allyship and advocating for change can take many different forms. And for me, it is important that my allyship includes active involvement in a role that requires some heavy lifting such as helping with organizing events and initiatives or volunteering. Also I filled out the Pridebox involvement survey, and here I am! It’s that easy.

FC: Diversity and inclusion are incredibly powerful attributes that bring about the best in each of us. This is true both inside and outside of the workplace. We have passed the point where we can question whether or not tech will change the world — we know that it will. The question is how, and therein lies the importance of ensuring that diverse voices are represented at Dropbox and in tech more broadly. The potential for impact on diversity and inclusion at Dropbox, and the potential for Pridebox by extension, is the compelling reason why I got involved and encourage others to do so as well!

How do you finish the sentence Love is _____, and why is it important to the LGBTQ+ community at Dropbox?

LM: Love is unwritten and unbound. As much as authors and philosophers and politicians have tried to define love and limit its applications, love is unfettered and fluid. Accepting that love can exist outside your own personal definition is one step toward dismantling the idea that love that doesn’t fit your personal definition is wrong or should be treated differently.

FC: Love is a learning opportunity! Love is accepting that we have come a long way and still have a looooong way to go. Love is listening to others and elevating voices that we haven’t yet heard. Love is making space in the LGBTQ+ family for every letter of the alphabet. Love is important to the LGBTQ+ community because history has tried to dictate whether we can love on a fundamental level. In a society that doesn’t always celebrate our differences, the simple act of loving who you choose and loving yourself is a radical statement.

What do you want allies to understand about the theme, and how have allies supported you in your journey?

LM: Hello fellow allies! I hope one takeaway from the theme is inclusiveness. That we need to discard our preconceived notions of what something “is,” and listen, observe, and absorb what the LGBTQ+ community is saying. That we find more ways to connect to, relate to, and understand everyone. Inclusiveness is giving people space to be themselves, to their own definition, and actively supporting them in that space. Some ways that allies can support the LGBTQ+ community through inclusiveness are: giving people space to speak and inviting them to that space (for example, asking someone their opinion in a meeting if they haven’t shared it yet), adapting your approach to accommodate different personalities, considering representation when making decisions, acknowledging and respecting the different life experiences that LGBTQ+ may go through, and above all else — listening. Listen to their stories, to their opinions, to their experiences, to their suggestions. Make space, invite, and listen.

FC: Allies have played an important role in my career; being there to open doors, to trust in my abilities, to set me up for success. Mentors and allies who allowed me to be uniquely myself have paved the way for me to thrive and learn about myself along the way. They’re an invaluable thread in the tapestry of my queer experience. It’s important for allies to understand their power in the broader landscape. While the voices of marginalized groups may sometimes be diminished, the voices of allies often carry a weigh that creates powerful change. Well-intentioned gestures can turn into editing or deprecating queer experiences and suppressing queer voices. Treat your LGBTQ+ peers with respect and open up opportunities for them to speak up and share their truths.

Bonus Round:

We asked members of Pridebox to share how they finish the sentence “Love is ___.” Here’s what they had to say.

“A battlefield? 🤔 OK, in all seriousness, love is each and every one of us being our true, authentic selves every day and learning from and with each other. For me, love is also being a dad (to two children) and a husband.” — Jeff C., Business Recruiter

“Freedom to be myself. To me, it’s about the freedom to recognize and accept myself and others, choosing who I want to be part of my life, being a good role model for my children and their friends (who may not be comfortable coming out to their own parents), and learning to recognize and combat my own internalized biases and self-doubt. Frida Kahlo’s life story has parallels to my own, and I’ve used that quote to remind myself that I can persevere and succeed when others expect me to fail.” — Leigh S., Customer Experience Content Strategist

“Love has taken me on many different journeys throughout my life, across countries and continents. Right now, I believe love is worth fighting for. Getting to this point of the LGBT rights movement wasn’t without sacrifice and incredibly hard work, and we have so far to go. Our rights are already getting stripped by federal and state administrations that would prefer that our community just went away, or worse. But we’re not going anywhere. It will take a lot of love and a lot of hard work to get equal rights for everyone in our community.” — Garrett T., Customer Education Content Strategist

“I really love the idea of leaving the blank open to interpretation. Love is a term that deserves no shortage of thought, especially because it has such a deeply personal meaning to everyone. Love is elevating, but it’s also hard. It can feel in rare supply, and yet one can see it everywhere. For that reason, I fill in the blank with pencil. It’s something different every day, and one of the most important parts of our shared humanity.” — Austin S., Product Operations Manager for Mobile Apps

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