Reflect on the time when you did not belong?
In one way or another we know how it felt like, getting into a new situation where you know you are part of but didn’t really feel that you belong. Getting on a new school, or big family gatherings, or working with new colleagues – the feeling and thoughts are always there. How can fit in? Will they talk to me? Will they welcome me? Will I be part of the team?
In this new dawn where diversity and inclusion is being championed across the globe, achieving that sense of belonging on top of it makes everything unique. When one learns compassion and become compassionate, it brings belongingness and attracts others, inclusion gets invited fairly and respectfully.
Learning from Pat Wadors, we strive for diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) by speaking up, by acting up on a situation. If someone is not listening, if they do not care – move on. If they are not feeding your soul and you give so much, why stay? If you feel trapped, you will behave like trapped and negativity will build up. To belong, we need to make an empowered choice, or create a plan or raise our hand. Belongingness is about us.
You can simply measure DIB by yourself, you can ask – How important is belonging to you? Do you feel like you belong to your team? If something bad happens at work, do you feel safe? Does someone at work care about you? Have you given a belonging moment to someone else?
Just like diversity and inclusion, the sense of belonging is embraced by adopting a learning mindset. Teach others to belong by sharing your story and nurture people into belonging. Tell them your own bruise story, celebrate differences and check for bias. Be aware of the voices not being heard. Being heard is everything.
Over the past few months, without full intention, I get to immerse myself and deep dive to diverse stories of the LGBT+ community, from basic civil rights, to mental health, to the prolonged struggles of these individuals who simply want to belong to a broader community. These individuals seek acceptance more than just their beliefs but also for their rights to be finally recognized by the law, a movement that is being fought locally for a very long time now.
Last May 17 at my workplace, we celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia and Trans-phobia (IDAHOT) and I get to represent my business group for a costume contest. I had a short time to prepare, but with that little time that I have to research and come up a creative design for my costume, I was introduced to a new yet darker reality experienced by the community – that verbal and physical abuse is still prominent across any age group and that there are countries that treat homosexual acts as illegal and gives out death sentence for that, all because of fear and lack of understanding of their rights. I tried to channel the opportunity and transform my costume to an art and at the same time speak about an obvious yet deeper stance, more than awareness and acceptance, but to reclaim hope that in our lifetime we would see a big leap on progress of LGBT+ rights, bridge the gaps in understanding their needs and finally pave the way in ending hate and fear. It was emotional for me – creating, planning and parading the costume made me feel the agony, the unjust and the repressive tone that the LGBT+ community face on their everyday life, yes we push for diversity and inclusion, but does the LGBT+ community feel truly belong?
By June 12, I was thankful to be part once again of the Manila Streetwear Fashion Show championed by fashion designer Jeffrey Rogador, now on its second season. The show celebrates fashion inclusion for all, no matter what your age, size, gender or sexual orientation is. The event not only had a diverse and inclusive people who participated but also developed an experience for the real people that they belong to the fashion world.
Last June 29 was the national Pride March which took place at Marikina Sports Complex on a rainy morning that lasted the whole day. The theme of the march itself was a protest and a shout out to resist together and was attended by more than 50,000 individuals. Lastly I was fortunate enough to attend Pride Summit 2019 last July 26 at Marriott Ballroom helmed by the Philippine Finance Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) which tackled prominent and emerging topics that promotes diversity and inclusion within workplace such as mental health, promoting diversity and inclusion at workplace, SOGIE 101, LGBT Movement in the Media, Enabling Access for PWD, Transvolution, and may more.
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