My previous employer always has a presence at Pride, too, but in ten years, it never crossed my mind to volunteer to do anything that might have made the company look as though it were an especially gay-friendly (or even a relatively decent) place to work. It's neither.
Oh, by the way, the dreadful company in question was U.S. Bank. (Aha! At long last he spills the beans!)
On the occasions I went to Pride, I always made a point of stopping by the bank's booth, just to reassure myself that they were indeed giving out some of the chintziest, crappiest freebies in the whole park. I was rarely disappointed.
Care for a US Bank-branded Band-Aid dispenser? "How many stars does YOUR Band Aid have?"
Get bent, you cheap bastards.
Now, though, for the first time since I entered the corporate world, I can actually vouch for the fact that my company is a good place for gays to work. For example, during my day-one orientation, the gay employee group was mentioned prominently as an important resource for employees. I even got a handout!
By way of contrast, in my orientation at U.S. Bank, the HR rep actually bragged that all real plants had been removed from the building in a genius move to cut wasteful spending that didn't improve the bottom line. "Plastic is just fine with us," chirped the dull-witted orientation lead.
Believe me, a company that sees live plants as wasteful frippery is not going to provide a holiday party specifically for its gay employees.
It's amazing how much loyalty some
chicken wings, beer and a night of bowling can buy a firm when compared to a self-proclaimed "employer of choice," who spent not one thin dime to show a homo a good time in the ten years I worked there.
Another reason I'm happy to represent my company at Pride this year: I have gay friends at work. That may sound simplistic, but the fact is that I had no gay friends at my old job. Zero. As in not one.
Nor did I know how to make any gay friends, because the bank did nothing to promote networking among its employees, gay or straight. (Why waste your time making friends or forming personal connections with other professionals when you could just be staring into space in your cube, silently screaming into the void of your own mind while you wait for the agonizing minutes to tick by?)
(Full disclosure: There was a queeny guy I noticed at lunch occasionally, but that was about it. I once heard him use the word "supposably," which was enough to tell me that we didn't need to meet.)
In contrast, I've been at my current company less than a year, and I've made a dozen gay friends. Even more amazingly, I originally met them all through activities sponsored and funded by the company. That's pretty damn cool.
So, sure, I don't really care that much about the Pride celebration itself, but I'm happy to tell other queers they should think about working where I do. I used to complain to Darren all the time that we had fewer gay friends than any other gay couple we know. That may still be true, but we have a lot more than we used to, and my job has been a huge part of that. (Along with the knitting--let's be real here.)
If you're one of my local pals, look for me tomorrow. You know the company. Come by and chat for a while. I promise not to give you a Band Aid dispenser.