Albertsons Companies Celebrates Pride Month

Albertsons Companies Celebrates Pride Month

Pride Month - Albertsons Companies

 

This month, we’re celebrating Pride and showcasing the stories, perspectives and dreams of some of our amazing LGBTQ+ associates.

Chris Colombana – VP Merchandising Systems &
Integration, Chair of Albertsons Pride Alliance

What challenges did you face coming out/growing up as part of the LGBTQ+ community?

I actually faced very few challenges coming out when I was young.  Though I did see negative messaging in society in general, I’ve really encountered very little personally throughout my life, save being called a derogatory term on a couple of occasions.  Regardless, I did struggle with self-acceptance for many years, often feeling that others would think less of me knowing that I was gay or reject me in some way.  It’s taken most of my adult life to feel comfortable in my own skin, so the whole concept of “bringing one’s whole self to work” resonates strongly with me, as for many years I really didn’t.  I no longer waste energy worrying about those that would reject me based on this one aspect of who I am.  Having supportive family, friends and co-workers has made all the difference.

What is something that you want people to know about this community in our company?

That we are not asking other individuals to change their values or beliefs in respecting LGBTQ+ co-workers, that it’s one's attitudes and behaviors, shaped by their experiences and implicit bias, that allow them to treat members of our community and people of all diverse backgrounds respectfully.  In this day of hyper-polarized social conflict, it strikes me that it’s never been more important to start conversations from a point of equal footing, assuming good intentions and with the realization that not agreeing on a topic does not make us enemies.  Diversity of thought is a powerful equalizing force but it is lost in an environment of absolute right and wrong, winner-takes-all. 

Who is your role model?

Years ago it would likely have been different, but now I would say Pete Buttigieg.  Secretary Buttigieg communicates in such an honest and thoughtful manner, he is exactly the type of person that I want in a leadership role in our country.  What really made me admire him is when he talked about struggling with his orientation when he was young, stating that “if he could have cut that part of him out, he would have”.  That hit me in the core of my soul, that he also felt that being gay was not something he asked for and that his journey was similar to mine.  Some LGBTQ+ people have no problems with self-acceptance and grow into their natural selves seemingly effortlessly, but for many of us the journey to self-acceptance is more difficult.  To see him now, a cabinet secretary of the United States, is such a source of pride for our community.  A promise of meaningful change. 

What is your hope for the future? 

That we see hatred and bigotry shrink back out of our daily lives, that discriminatory speech and actions once again become socially unacceptable.  I would like to see Americans reset their perspectives and remember how much more we have in common than that which divides us.  I hope that LGBTQ+ equality becomes a reality and something that no longer has to be fought for, but is commonplace.  That we meet a day where we look back on a past where Americans tried to stifle the voices and limit the rights of their brothers and sisters and it seems abstract and absurd. 

Mona Yoo, Employee Relations Manager

What challenges did you face coming out/growing up as part of the LGBTQ+ community?  

I come from a very traditional Korean family. When I came out at the age of 16, I was told it was not acceptable and considered unnatural. Also, while growing up in the 90s, there were tragedies around the LGBTQ+ community to include the passing of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena, which showed just how dangerous it could be for the LGBTQ+ community; this created fears that still linger today. Like many LGBTQ+ youths, I was faced with depression that led to attempting to take my own life; luckily, I did not succeed. Since then, I have come a long way and have come to learn that there is nothing wrong with me. I’ve learned to be proud of who I am and have committed to living my best authentic life. Here I am, almost 23 years later, where my wife and I are welcoming a baby girl into our family. Life is good! 

What does PRIDE Month mean to you?  

PRIDE month is a chance for our LGBTQ+ counterparts and allies to celebrate how far we’ve come, at the sacrifice and the persistence of those before us who paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community. Growing up, I did not think that same-sex marriage would be possible in my lifetime and did not think that LGBTQ+ families would be accepted, but here we are in 2021, where same-sex marriage is legal across the country and has been for years! 

What is something that you want people to know about this community in our company?  

You work for an amazing company that supports you! Be proud of who you are and live your best life.  

What steps/actions do you recommend to get involved to help the LGBTQ+ community for our associates and the communities we serve?  

One step that I believe everyone can take is to show support for their LGBTQ+ counterparts and be inclusive. Another step is to speak up for those afraid or incapable of speaking up for themselves. A little compassion goes a long way. 

What is your hope for the future?  

While our country has made great strides in LGBTQ+ rights, there is still much work to be done. My hope for the future is equal rights for all.  

 Natasha Tomecek, Education Coordinator

What challenges did you face coming out/growing up as part of the LGBTQ+ community?

Growing up in the south was a challenge, especially since my family is both traditional and conservative. I knew I was different and there was a lot of internal shame around that. After high school I joined the service and traveled the world and through exposure to all kinds of people and lifestyles I began to accept, love, and free myself. The decision to come out was difficult, but coming to terms with myself was more important to making the world a better place and my overall happiness. 

What does PRIDE Month mean to you?

Pride Month is so much more than a parade and party. It is a time to acknowledge and celebrate how far we have come, and it is also a visible display of hope and anticipation for better days ahead.  

What is your hope for the future?

My hope is we will continue to see positive societal transformations locally and globally. I hope we continue to increase LGBTQ+ visibility to show that we occupy the same arenas as everyone else. Ultimately, I hope to see an increased focus on the human rights of LGBTQ+, equality, and a more safe and inclusive world.   

Mandee Day, Director, Communications

What does PRIDE Month mean to you?

Pride month is an opportunity to celebrate love… loving who you love, authentically and genuinely – without judgement.  A month to express how you feel in a way that would have, in earlier years, been a death sentence.  It is the chance to learn more about the trials and tribulations of the LGBTQ community and generate an understanding that love should be created equal.  It is, after all, the universal language.

What is something that you want people to know about this community in our company? 

While we, as a company, have embraced diversity in many forms…this is one you can’t always see.  You don’t always know, nor can you assume…but you can always show your support.  Welcoming everyone to a conversation, fully…can make all the difference.  If someone openly shares what their weekend was about and has the courage to share about their significant other – don’t let an awkward silence or sudden end to the conversation keep them from openly sharing again.   Show an interest in learning more. Ask questions that allow you to engage in specific conversation with them again in the future.  What seems like regular conversation to you is something they have side stepped for many years. 

What steps/actions do you recommend to get involved to help the LGBTQ+ community for our associates and the communities we serve?

Education is one of the biggest things I would recommend anyone do.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be a part of the conversation and step up to defend and openly support anyone in the community.  Seek to understand, listen to learn, and open your heart and mind to that which you would have otherwise turned a blind eye.  

What is your hope for the future?

I hope in the future that love will conquer fear.  I hope that people will appreciate that love comes in all forms.  That we are not all the same…and that is the exact thing that makes humans so amazing…if we let it.

Albertsons Companies Celebrates Pride Month