As a gay woman, Pride Month is special to me because it’s an opportunity to celebrate diversity—diversity of sexuality and of all the little differences that make us each unique.
For example, I’m an athlete. I’m a daughter and sister. I’m loyal, kind and sensitive. I’m musically talented. I’m intelligent and witty. I’m hardworking. I’m passionate. I’m successful.
Being gay is just a part of who I am—something that became clear on my long journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
Let me take you back to spring 2017. I was attending Colorado State University and playing rugby for the school. I was very successful but ended up completely separating my shoulder and had to return home to Wisconsin to get surgery. This was a very trying time in my life, and I learned a valuable life lesson in identity—you do not have to pick just one! I had always been an athlete, and now that was gone, I had to refigure out who I was.
After a few admittedly tough months, I took a chance and started working in the pottery at Kohler Co. It was tough work and a great excuse to wear Levi’s, but looking back it was a very formative experience for me. I was working in the foundation and heart of Kohler Co., and it gave me a great appreciation of the hard work and mission the company is built on. And I didn’t mind driving the fork trucks.
It also helped me rediscover myself and who I wanted to be. Despite all of the “Kohler street cred” I received from working in the pottery, I knew I wanted to be in the realm of social impact. This is one of the top reasons that drew me to Kohler. So, I networked like crazy and I was vocal in telling management where I wanted to be. In April 2018, I was in my current position in corporate HR, and I immediately dove in.
I am now the Sustainability Champion for my building on campus, I am a member of our LGBTQ business resource group, Kohler Proud, I coordinate and manage our SVP’s monthly roundtables, and I have started social Millennial Mixers here on campus. It took some work and some leaps of faith to get here, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and to be part of a company that reflects my values and character.
The highs and lows of our journeys are something we can all find commonality in, no matter your individual experience—overcoming obstacles, judgment, rejection, finding people who accept you for your true self, finding a workplace where you feel safe and can bring your full authenticity. These are all shared and relatable feelings and desires, no matter your sexuality.
I am proud to be accepted for all of my “identities” and to work alongside some amazing people. I am proud to be me.