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  • October 10, 2019

Coming Out for Equality: Two Oracle Employees Share their Moving Stories

Everyone should have the right to feel safe and accepted for who they are. On National Coming Out Day, we celebrate everyone who has had the bravery to come out as LGBTQ+.

Whether you’re taking that step as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+), or as an ally—every single person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.

At Oracle, we recognize that one of the most powerful ways we can spread this positive message is through sharing our stories. So, today we mark the 31st anniversary of National Coming Out Day with two personal accounts from our colleagues.

Brian Puga, Principal F&B Solution Engineer, Oracle Food and Beverage GBU

Coming Out Is Always Scary, Usually Messy, but Necessary to Live as your Authentic Self.

I was 18. I had been working at an amusement park where most of my co-workers were all older than me and I’d come to grips with my being gay by then. I was going to college in LA, and was definitely in an environment that was supportive and encouraging. But I felt like I was two people, struggling to be one.  At home, I was a nothing…Not gay, not straight, devoid of an identity. I needed to bridge the divide—I had to tell my parents I was gay.

My parents were neither rich nor poor but we had a nice home and occasionally my dad would splurge. One of those splurges was when he came home with Toyota’s first minivan. It was called LE, for Luxury Edition—and this thing was luxurious. It had a moon-roof, sun-roof, and an ice maker. Yes, sun and moon-roof. The moon-roof was up front, glass, and could be tilted up to let the air in. The sun-roof was this huge sliding thing in the back. It had all the fancy features, including windows and mirrors with motors to move them.   

My dad loved his minivan. So, on the day I decided to come out, I thought I’d do something nice: I’d get the van washed as a kind gesture.

I took the van to one of those drive-thru carwashes, the kind where you sit as it does its thing. I filled the gas tank and drove on in. There’s something about carwashes that is magical. For a few minutes, you’re living in a bubble world, listening to music, and you forget about the world outside. I was in a good place that day, thinking about the nice thing I was doing, and anticipating my next big act. Then the rolling scrubbers started. 

First the radio antenna was torn off and sent flying. Next, the automatic mirrors were ripped off the doors with a gut-wrenching crunch. I sat in terror and watched helplessly as the overhead roller launched its attack—pushing in the glass moon roof and releasing a waterfall of suds onto my head. It was mayhem. I was surrounded by destruction on all sides.

Afterward, I drove home with the side mirrors dangling like severed arms against the doors. My parents saw me drive up and were not happy. I explained that I was trying to do something thoughtful. Why, they asked?  Why would you do this to our car?

“I’m gay.” I dropped this statement and expected it to wipe out all memory of the disaster sitting in the driveway. That was not to be the case. 

“We’ve known that since you were five. Let’s get back to the car,” was my dad’s response.

“We’re worried about how people will treat you,” my mom admitted. “But why are you soaking wet?”

Coming out has different results for everyone.  Sometimes tragic. Sometimes you lose people you love. But, for many, it’s a minor blip in your life that frees you from tyranny and a self-imposed punishment for a crime you never committed. Coming out is an individual decision, based on many factors, including considerations of safety.

I share my story only to show that for some, our expectations of coming out are way worse than the reality.

Amber Edwards, Cloud Platform Representative

I Knew I Was Transgender when I Was Five Years Old.Amber Edwards Picture

I didn’t tell anyone who I really was until I was in my late twenties. I told my family in my late thirties and started to transition in my forties. During those years, I would appear quiet, aloof, unsociable, and shy. Simply because I was hiding my true, authentic self from everyone.

I was scared. As a child, I feared rejection from my family and friends. At university, I worried about not being part of the in-crowd. At work, I had concerns for my career and earnings. After years of mental health issues and feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, I told someone. I met my amazing wife, who accepted me for who I was and allowed me to be myself. She is an amazing woman and someone who makes me know every day that love is love.

Five years ago, I managed to pluck up the courage to tell Oracle. I asked for a meeting with HR, still making up an excuse as to what I wanted to meet about. With my voice breaking, my hands sweating and my heart jumping out of my chest, I said those words: “I am transgender”.

My HR manager was fantastic. She immediately told me it would be ok and that Oracle had experience of someone transitioning. So would I like to speak to them? With my blessing, she then went and told the management team who individually came down from their busy day jobs to offer support and again tell me it would be ok.

What followed was a period of repeating this story to my GP, psychiatrists, gender clinics, friends, and family—not to mention the list of people you need to tell when your name changes but your voice doesn’t fit! 

Then came my coming out day; the moment I would walk into work as myself. Oracle had supported me with a sabbatical so that I could take some time to focus on those first few weeks of my transition. There was a wardrobe to change, makeup to learn, and most importantly, confidence to build. Again, my line manager was a great support. From the day I walked into the office, it was as if nothing had changed.

Today, I still struggle. We all know on the outside we may appear confident and comfortable but we can still be nervous when we meet someone for the first time, or walk into a room, or simply speak on the phone.

In sales, this is something I have to do every day. Fortunately Oracle have aligned me with media accounts who have a fantastic approach to diversity and inclusion. Their support actually led me to stand on a stage in front of 150 people to recount my story.

Since the moment I sent out an email to 50 of my closest colleagues and friends at Oracle, I have had phenomenal support. 47 responses flooded into my inbox, and I knew from that moment that Oracle would be a safe place to work, and most of all, to be myself.

To all of those individuals who have helped me on this journey, can I simply say, thank you. I will never forget how much your support has helped me. 

Diversity and Inclusion Is Part of Life at Oracle

Here at Oracle, we are committed to creating an inclusive workplace where all kinds of people can work together. We’re proud to continue receiving a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index Report for being one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ employees.

We’re also very excited to announce our new partnership with the Trevor Project, a leading nonprofit that saves young LGBTQ+ lives. Oracle is financially aiding their important battle against conversion therapy.

Do you want to join a supportive community where you can be your true self, every day? Discover how you can channel your unique talents into a career at Oracle.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Paula Getz Friday, October 11, 2019
    I want to thank Brian and Amber for sharing their incredible stories. What courage. I laughed (even gasped at the car wash part in Brian's)and cried. On Coming Out day I am proud of both of you, proud of all the members in OPEN across the globe and thankful for our D&I team to support this activity. Thank you!
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