Kevin Thomas is a Principal Risk Manager for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. He’s also the founder of the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) Pacific Northwest Chapter, and the US Major Event Chair and Treasurer on the OPEN Board of Directors.
He came out as gay while studying at the University of Oregon in the early 80’s. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was beginning and there were many unknowns about the disease. “It was an emotional and tumultuous time to be a gay man in a small college town,” he recalls.
“We have celebrated wins in the last several decades, especially the right to marry, fight in the military, and be out and open at work with no retribution. We thought we were good,” he admits. However, recent events have shown Kevin that the journey that was started 50 years ago at the Stonewall Inn in New York City isn’t over.
“We need to continue to fight; be visible; educate those around us; show up with our true and authentic selves; and continuously demonstrate humanity by being compassionate.”
Kevin was born in the 60’s, so the riots for sexual freedom and the war in Vietnam strongly color his perspective. “In the 70’s it was the murder of Harvey Milk and the Ryan White riots. In the 80’s and 90’s it became the marches and fights for AIDS funding and unfurling quilts across America to remind everyone of the people who died fighting for our rights. In the late 90’s and 2000’s, the fight changed to new issues, including mental health, continued AIDS funding, and the fight for equality across the world.”
Kevin has worked hard his whole life to show people that gay men and women are no different than anyone else and should be judged on merit—not who they love and like. “I made it my responsibility to correct friends, family, and co-workers about LGBTQ+ issues. My goal has been to educate people about being gay whenever I can.”
Kevin feels his upbringing has had a lot to do with shaping his outlook on life. “My parents taught me to be honest, work hard, do well, and do the right thing. There was a very strong work ethic in my family which came with our farming background. Since I came out, I’ve always been out. I’ve never hid my homosexuality from co-workers, managers, or friends.”
Kevin feels lucky to have a loving family who are proud of his sexuality, as well as all that he has accomplished both personally and professionally. A valuable lesson he has learned along the way, is that in order to be able to take care of others, you need to first take care of yourself.
“I make a conscious effort to focus on communication, growth, and looking after my physical, mental, and emotional needs. I’m passionate about my values. I focus on turning them into actions. I strive to be authentic, open, respectful, committed, and trustworthy.”
He adds, “Something I’m getting more passionate about is leaving a legacy. I’ve spent my life educating and showing people what it means to be LGBTQ+ from a personal perspective, but I want to do something more far reaching. I want to make a difference for the LGBTQ+ community, especially with the challenges we face today.”
On his diversity and inclusion philosophy, Kevin always recounts an interesting view he heard at a conference: “Diversity means you are willing to invite someone to a party. Inclusion is asking that person to dance. I knew that was very powerful when I heard it,” he recalls.
“We have to be willing to dance with everybody regardless of their human differences. It’s just the right thing to do,” Kevin counsels. “I would say come out, come out, wherever you are. However, I know that may not be possible in everyone’s case. So, do it the best way that works for you. You’ll find a loving, supportive community waiting for you with open arms. We as LGBTQ+ people have to be authentic 24/7.”
When asked about his thoughts on the importance of Pride, Kevin says that it’s essential that the LGBTQ+ community and allies are out and visible across the world. “We need to be courageous, compassionate, and caring—for the benefit of our fellow human beings,” he instructs.
Kevin concludes with a call to action, “Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, or ally, act in whatever way you can to be visible. Be strong, be brave, be courageous, be yourself—and WE WILL BELONG.”