Pride is a word that can so easily be misunderstood, especially when it lacks context. The truest definition of pride is the ability to look back on a success or a personal milestone that was achieved over a long period of time, or attained in the face of adversity. Which is why Pride Month serves as a reminder of the long journey towards acceptance and equality. For me, it is so much more than that. Of all my professional accomplishments, I am most proud about the launch of Boldr’s Pride initiative.
The road towards self-discovery
I always knew I was different, but I never knew that my uniqueness would one day translate into strength and lead me towards my true identity. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was just a gay kid with dreams that stretched beyond the East Los Angeles neighborhood I lived in.
As a first-generation Hispanic American, I was taught English at school and returned to a Spanish household. I didn’t excel in the conventional ways that boys do. I gravitated towards academics, art, and swimming. The water didn’t judge me or call me names. The recognition I received at school was sufficient to distract me from the fact that I was gay.
I also struggled to identify with people of color who have accomplished success, which is a mindset that would become one of the biggest obstacles blocking my path. What kept me focused was the idea that I had to be this person, not just for myself but for anyone who came after me. Thanks to my parents and hard work, I joined various programs, such as swimming, water polo, and educational courses. This enabled me to travel beyond my neighborhood, to see new places and to impact those around me. I took this opportunity to change people’s perceptions of what a gay Mexican-Salvadorian can achieve.
I only came out in my mid-20s, fearing the possibility of rejection. However, as many other queer individuals know, you never really stop coming out. You never stop having to correct people’s assumptions or biases. My early adult life centered on disproving what someone from my background could achieve and demonstrating what I could achieve. At times, I omitted details of my personal life at previous organizations for fear of dismissal or judgment because of my sexual orientation. I was convinced there had to be a better way of working, while maintaining professional relationships.
I joined Boldr in 2019 as employee number 60, not aware that in a couple of years it would employ more than a 1000 people from all over the world. Knowing that not many organizations were accepting of individuality and diversity, I disclosed to the Boldr leadership that I was gay. Instead of being rejected, I was welcomed into a community where I was encouraged to be my most authentic self.
The international challenges of inclusivity and equality
When David Sudolsky founded Boldr, he built it on three pillars: Authenticity, Dynamism, Curiosity. This rewarding value system supplemented Boldr’s global expansion efforts. Before long, we had an outsourcing footprint in Mexico, South Africa and the Philippines. However, I quickly perceived that I lived in a more accepting country than where some of my colleagues resided.
LGBTQIA2S+ rights, especially pertaining to same-sex marriages, are still somewhat of a gray area. In the Philippines, where Boldr has grown considerably in the last couple of years, the LGBTQIA2S+ community are not just battling discrimination from locals, but they also face legal challenges. This realization spurred me on to establish a pride organization within Boldr that would support our team members, while showcasing a way of doing business that embraced the authentic diversity in the workplace.
In 2020, Boldr Pride was built on the backbone of previous Pride Month celebrations. But it needed to stand on its own. We needed a platform that extended the month-long celebration. Boldr Pride would become the voice of the LGBTQIA2S+ community within Boldr, advocating for those that do not always have a voice.
The Boldr Pride organization is not only a beacon of safety to other team members, but it also shows to our clients and our communities that we are forward thinking, and not reluctant to take a stance where inequality is evident. I am in awe of how far we have come. I never imagined I would start an organization that would empower others to live their truth, let alone come out when I had.
I only hope to encourage others to live in their truth and to embrace what makes them different. There are family, friends, and organizations out there that will appreciate your uniqueness. At Boldr we have pledged to battle inequality and to be a force for good. We are a proud B Corp, focused on building an inclusive economic system, while creating safe spaces for our team members in each geography. In my term at Boldr, it has been my mission to be a positive role model for others, to live the values that sets us apart from competitors, and to deliver on the dreams of that little gay kid from East Lost Angeles. I now know the importance of working at an organization that not only recognizes the LGBTQIA2S+ community but actively celebrates and protects it.
Ray Torres (he/him) is Boldr’s Director of Client Solutions. He currently resides in West Hollywood, CA, USA. He’s focused on leaving people, places, and things better than he found them! When he’s not helping organizations build their global teams, he’s likely on a quest to find the best hot chicken sandwich.