Pride and acceptance

LGBTQIA+ employees share their stories about working at Viasat during Pride Month

pride flag

Several years ago, Viasat began raising the Pride flag at our Carlsbad, CA headquarters, a decision made to ensure employees – regardless of orientation – felt supported and valued. It’s also a message to the local community that we are a workplace and a business that supports and welcomes LGBTQIA+ employees, vendors and customers. In this post, we celebrate our diverse employees and hear from several of them about their experiences working at Viasat, and what Pride means to them.

 

Free to be me

Cortney Toler

 

The celebration of Pride means so much to me. I’m proud of who I am, and that I don’t have to hide that, and I’m proud of and extremely grateful to those that helped the LGBTQIA+ community get to this point. It’s definitely something that deserves celebrating.

 

I was in the Navy when “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was repealed, and that was a huge moment in my life where I started to feel like I could be my true self without it causing me grief. To go from an environment where I was forced to keep this secret, to 11 years later – where I can marry whomever I love, work for a company that openly supports my right to be who I am and flies the Pride flag during Pride Month, and encourages us to walk in the Pride Parade and be involved in the Community – that’s been incredibly liberating for me.

 

A healthy tapestry

Lusi Balzano

 

At Viasat, I feel a part of a community where race, religion, gender, and orientation between co-workers is a natural weaving of many threads into a tapestry of a healthy organization. That is a true celebration of diversity and Pride.

 

“Pride to me is a celebration of the adversity that we (people of the LGBTQIA+ Community) have faced and the hardships we’ve endured. It’s a statement to the world that we are here and we exist. As someone who came from a very religious family, my gender expression and romantic interests have always been viewed as shameful to my familial circle. But coming out has helped me see past that. I don’t have to be ashamed of who I am, and that helped me come out while at Viasat. I am a proud Black, pansexual trans woman, and I have every right to be proud of who I am. I’ve overcome some horrific hardships to finally be me, and I proudly display that here at Viasat.

 

The importance of inclusivity in this work environment is that no one wants, or deserves, to feel uncomfortable in the workplace. Here at Viasat, I feel we strive to make a difference in the world, but we wouldn’t be able to say that if we didn’t include the knowledge of perspectives that reside outside of the cisgender-heteronormative.”


Luis Balzano (l) and Cortney Toler



Equal treatment

Scott Shippy

 

When I came to Viasat 10+ years ago, one of the questions I asked of those interviewing me was: “How does the Viasat culture respond to someone like me who has a lifelong same-gender partner with a son?”

 

The answer was perfect: “No different from anyone else.” I love that about our company. I am special to Viasat for who I am, and not who I identify as being. I don’t need a sign, a label, or any big announcement so that people don’t accidentally say the wrong thing around me. I am just who I am. When I talk about Jonathan (my partner) it is as seamless as a male co-worker talking about his girlfriend Lisa, or a female co-worker talking about her wife Debbie. Pride to me is not about seeing a rainbow of different colors, but rather, seeing a rainbow where the colors come together with no separation, just a blending of hues.

 

 

Grateful for progress

Tiffany Simonton

 

Pride was something I always looked at as being free to express yourself, be who you are and celebrate your own uniqueness. I envy those growing up during this time, as LGBTQIA+ individuals and the community as a whole are better protected in most ways than they were years ago.

 

As a Viasat employee, I’ve never had to hide who I was and could speak openly with others. The acceptance Viasat has given me starting roughly 10 years ago up to now has been amazing. I’d like to thank Viasat and applaud their open and laidback nature to those different from the mainstream. The support means a lot.”

 

 

Celebrating our journeys

Matt Bancroft

 

Pride is visibility. The celebrations, rainbows, and flags are a crucial, visible way for the LGBTQIA+ community to claim our identity and celebrate our journeys, our challenges, and our accomplishments. So many of us have lived in fear or shame and, if we can love and celebrate ourselves and live proudly, it gives us and others real hope and power for the rest of the year. Celebrating Pride at Viasat brings visibility to our differences and our similarities, and builds a supportive environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work. Our unique journeys and diverse perspectives drive innovations, and our visibility shows that Viasat is a welcome, diverse, and supportive place to work.

 

 


(L-R) Scott Shippy, Tiffany Simonton, Matt Bancroft

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