Jake Cracknell (he/him), a member of TPG Telecom’s online customer care team, would like to see a world where the need to “come out” as LGBTQI+ is no longer a concept.
“It’s incredibly important that not only the company I work for but the world in general shifts away from “coming out” and into a new phase where that need no longer exists. People shouldn’t need to come out and identify themselves as something other than the majority,” said Jake.
“We are all equal and our sexuality doesn’t define us. Coming out will always be a part of my identity and it’s an important part of selfidentification, and accepting who you are. However, the need to publicly come out should become a thing of the past as people become more accepting.”
First celebrated in 1988, October 11 is National Coming Out Day – where people around the world show their support for the LGBTQI+ community.
“National Coming Out Day for me is a day of awareness and celebration. I came out fairly young, I was 15 at the time and back then I wasn’t aware of National Coming Out Day, nor the incredible amount of resources that have now become available over the years. It’s an important day to raise awareness and for lack of a better term “normalise” being a member of the LGBTQI+ community,” said Jake.
“It’s incredibly important that people of all ages feel included and are aware that there are people out there like them, trying to navigate the same path that they are. Knowing that you’re not alone and that the way you are feeling is totally normal is why I believe this day is so important for so many.”
Kristy Kelly is the Head of Inclusion and Belonging at TPG Telecom.
“At TPG Telecom we are determined to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to be themselves and belong at work. By having many visible symbols of LGBTQI+ support, such as rainbow lanyards and pronouns in email signatures, we hope that our LGBTQI+ employees know that they’ll feel valued and respected regardless if they wish to keep their sexuality to themselves or if they wish to share the details with work colleagues,” said Kristy.
“We also have an active employee network called Connect that brings together people from across the organisation to create a safe space, and we have visible role models in the organisation to help drive education and awareness.”
Vodafone in the UK commissioned a report into coming out at work. The research, which was published in 2018, showed that 41 per cent of 18 – 25 year olds went back into the “closet” at their first job despite being “out” in their personal life. Alarmingly, 76 per cent of respondents said that they’re hidden their sexuality at work. The reasons that were shared include the fear of negative reaction, other people would find it uncomfortable, and it would be too awkward to talk about.
Jake is certainly appreciative to the positive culture at TPG Telecom.
“The inclusivity and environment at TPG Telecom would have made me incredibly comfortable if I did feel the need to make people aware of who I am. The company has been an incredible advocate for the LGBTQI+ community and has supported inclusion and belonging since the day I joined the company. From its awareness posts online and in the office, to its partnerships such as Minus18, have all made me feel incredibly safe and welcomed as a part of the company.”
In 2021, TPG Telecom partnered with Minus18, a not-for-profit Australian charity that aims to provide LGBTQIA+ youth with desperately needed programs and resources. Minus18 played an instrumental role in Jake’s journey.
“Once I gained the courage to begin to accept who I was I found Minus18 online. Finding a community of young, LGBTQI+ people made me feel normal. I had found people like me and began to realise that I wasn’t alone,” said Jake.
“If it wasn’t for Minus18, I don’t believe I would have come out as early as I did. It allowed me to connect with likeminded people, access an abundance of resources and is even how I met my first partner of 5 years. I’m incredibly thankful for Minus18 in allowing me to accept who I was and giving young queer kids the visibility that is needed for them to feel safe and included.”