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"I am proud of who I am"

Tamara Schwenk
11.10.2021 | 3 minutes

Today is the international Coming Out Day. How important is a day like this for you?

Daniela:

This day means a lot to me. Because it shows me as well as many others that we as members of the LGTBIQ+ community do not have to hide in any area of our lives. That includes our work life. Since I started at Intervalor in 2014, I've always been very open about my sexuality. After all, it's not something I want to hide. Rather, my sexuality is a component of my personality. I have told my colleagues from the very beginning that I am a lesbian. Because I am proud of who I am and want to share that openly with others. Of course, not everyone in the LGTBIQ+ community feels the same way I do. That's why I think a day like this is especially important because it encourages people to be themselves. That is not always easy for many. So I was happy to learn that AFS, with the be.queer network, is committed to making all employees feel safe and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or other characteristics.

What is special about the AFS United be.queer network for you?

Daniela:

On the one hand, it is special that such a network even exists. I have never worked in a company before that was so actively committed to LGTBIQ+ employees. I've had to deal with prejudice all my life, and I know that many in the LGTBIQ+ community feel the same way. But here at AFS, for the first time in my work environment, I feel like I can be who I am without being judged. I am treated as a human being, and it doesn't matter what my sexual orientation is. And that is exactly what AFS United be.queer is dedicated to. Whether it's by raising awareness about the importance of diversity through lectures or events, or by providing a safe space where members of the LGTBIQ+ community from around the world can come together and support each other. In doing so, AFS creates a culture where diversity and equal opportunity are norm, and that's what helps us gradually move closer to the goal of a more inclusive world.  

What changes would you like to see AFS continue to make?

Daniela:

The AFS United be.queer network is already doing a lot to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment at AFS. However, it is important to me that we as LGTBIQ+ employees also come together in an international context to share experiences with each other and work together to advance diversity at all levels.

transvestitism and transgenderism

One major topic that should be discussed more broadly in this context is transvestitism and transgenderism. These two groups tend to be neglected, even though they are very much affected by prejudice and discrimination. Especially here in Brazil I am confronted with this issue very often. The discrimination can be so immense that people are not able to develop themselves professionally or to lead a content life due to depression and abuse.  This is what we urgently need to work on to overcome subliminal or overt prejudice. Everyone should have the chance to live a fulfilling and happy life. 

What would you like to pass on to other employees that are part of the LGTBIQ+ community?

Daniela:

Be yourself and, above all, be proud of it.

That is the most important tip I would like to give to everyone. Your interests, your background, your sexual orientation - these are all things that make up your personality. And that is not something you should hide. I have learned to be open and transparent about what makes me to the person that I am today. Especially in a professional environment, I try to show people that my sexual orientation doesn't limit my professional abilities. So be tolerant and respectful of each other. We are all different, and that's what makes life so colorful!

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