To recognize and celebrate Pride Month, The Cricket Nation is amplifying the voices of employees who are connected to the LGBTQ+ community. In this blog, AVP of Marketing Management Keith Schumann opens up to share his personal experience.
As a young boy in small-town Texas — at a time when gay role models were absent and LGBTQ acceptance was low — imagining a future was often difficult and scary for me.
There are certain things most young people look forward to about growing up, like having an exciting job, getting married and starting a family. These things my “normal" straight peers aspired to didn't seem achievable for me.
So, what changed for me and made my future bright? I found my community, heroes and allies.
Community – First, I stumbled upon an exciting job taking overnight customer care calls for a new technology called cellular phones. The company I worked for would eventually become AT&T. For me, AT&T was a place full of acceptance and people living their authentic lives. Along with growing my confidence, I flourished professionally. The people of AT&T became part of my community — they lifted me up and empowered me to be me.
Heroes – Over time, I also discovered brave people laying the foundation for my future. Heroes like:
- Bayard Rustin, a close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. and an openly gay activist. Bayard was audacious during a time when being gay and a socialist weren't exactly fashionable. A brilliant organizer and tactician, he is heroic to me for many reasons.
- Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist and the first American woman in space. Sally helped pave the way for women in STEM — and when she came out posthumously in her obituary, she represented many more firsts for queer women everywhere.
- James Obergefell and John Arthur, an Ohio couple who decided to marry and fight for legal recognition of their relationship. Ohio would not recognize their marriage, and with John dying of ALS, their journey included chartering a medical jet to Maryland where they married without ever leaving the plane on July 11, 2013. When they returned, they filed a lawsuit to have their marriage recognized in their home state. Ultimately, this led to Marriage Equality in 2015.
Because of heroes like Bayard, Sally, James and John, today I've been married to my husband, Matthew, for over 24 years.
Allies – When Matthew and I decided to grow our family, allies were instrumental to our adoption journey. They included our case manager, James, and court appointed special advocate, Cathy, who helped make sure our family was treated with respect and dignity. One of their roles was advocating for us to assure we had the same information and resources as our straight counterparts, and that our family was equally represented as we navigated the process.
Now, when I think about that young boy in Texas, so unsure of the future, I also think about how it will feel to hear “Happy Father's Day, Dad" from my three sons this weekend. It makes me proud and full of gratitude.
During Pride Month, I like to reflect on the community, heroes and allies that have gifted me in so many ways. They changed my future, and I hope to provide the same support and be part of a brighter future for other marginalized communities as well. Together, we can lift each other up.
“Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful." - Michelle Obama