June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and recognize the LGBTQIA+ community, the successes and achievements made by this community, and the continued fight for equality. Pride celebrations date back to June 28, 1969. On this historic date, LBGTQIA+ protesters stood up against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. While not the first time members of the LBGTQIA+ community took a stand against this type of injustice, the Stonewall riots sparked a revolution of sorts that has continued to evolve for decades—in the United States and worldwide. Pride today continues to be about taking a stand, and at its essence, giving everyone—including members of the LBGTQIA+ community—the right to live their life authentically and to be able to love unapologetically.
In celebration of Pride 2022, we spoke to Lamar Martinez-Daniels about his experience coming out, how we set our own limitations, and what it takes to be a good mentor. Hint: it’s all about confidence.
My name is Lamar Martinez-Daniels and I’m the Director of Executive, Corporate, and Diversity Recruiting here at Cohesity.
I celebrate Pride by showing up. I like being there, talking to young people. I want to have fun too, of course, but I want to celebrate by being an advocate of authenticity—of being who you are and accepting it. Once you have that acceptance, and you have that close family behind you—whether that’s a family you were born into or one that you acquired—life becomes so much easier.
Coming out can be mentally and physically challenging. You don’t know what other people will think. For me, coming out was a bit easier than some of the stories you might hear. I told my mom right after I graduated from high school. I knew she knew, but I felt I had to vocalize it to her. I told my dad shortly after that, and it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t earth-shattering news to either of them.
I think that made me a stronger person. I didn’t care as much about other people’s opinions once I had my mom and dad’s approval. My sisters were there for me too. Everyone had my back. This also allowed me to be a mentor. I’ve met younger kids just coming out—I call them my gay kids—whose families were not as accepting as mine. I was able to help them through it by being there to talk to their parents.
Me being gay is 10% percent of who I am. I am still just a person. Who I have a relationship with is just my personal choice, what I feel is best for me. It doesn’t change who I am at work—how I manage, how I recruit new Cohesians, or what I want to do in my life. I don’t believe in ceilings for myself. I believe that the sky’s the limit if you want to reach for it.
I think I’ve never really had to hide because I’m so comfortable in my own skin. I deplore hiding. I’ve worked too hard to let somebody take my confidence away from me. If I lower or silence “myself” in a crowded room, then I am contributing to the biases against the LGBT+ community, and shirking my responsibility as a black, gay man.
I will say, I had a good friend dating back to the sixth grade—we grew up together and stayed best friends for a long time. At some point, she decided to really hone in on her faith and ended our friendship. But, you know, this wasn’t going to change who I am. That’s your choice—I’m not going to fake who I am.
I always hung out with older people—people who were five or ten years older than me—and they definitely tried to lead me in the right direction. I wish I would have taken heed to their advice a little earlier, closer to the beginning, and saved a few heartaches in life.
The advice I would give is that being gay is not a job, it’s who you are. We all need to put on our professional hats when we come to work, but when you’re at home and with your friends, you can let loose and just be you—it’s not worth playing a role in your personal life where you’re not getting paid to do it. Just be who you are, and who you feel comfortable being.
You have to be professional but personal. I’m passionate about people growing—both at work and with friends. I think you have to be honest, have fun, and surround yourself with people in your personal and professional life who want the same things.
Be you. No one can do you better.
There’s still a lot of stigma. All those things people will say, even today like, HIV is a gay disease—it’s not. Or that all gay people want to wear makeup and high heels—also not the case for every gay man.
We need more people to be educated about the LGBTQIA+ community, and how all of us are human beings, like everyone else. There has been a significant change in acceptance, along with visibility since I was 20 years old, but education is still important and ongoing. Assuming, or saying something outlandish, just continues to contribute to the stigma and negative stereotypes.
In the short time I’ve been here at Cohesity, I’ve felt accepted. However, I do think that we need to continue to focus on inclusion with educational programs, and make inclusion and belonging even better. For example, what we did for Juneteenth, for women in the workplace, and Pride—we should always keep putting a spotlight on these moments that matter.