Patrick knows that LGBTQ+ acceptance isn’t a reality for everyone. It’s why he thinks being visible is so important. This is his story.
I was born and raised in a small town in Austria. I never experienced homophobia in my childhood, but there were almost no gay people visible in our lives or in our society. Even so, I always knew I was attracted to men. I just didn’t share this with the outside world or identify as gay until 1995, when I was 19. It was then that I accidentally came out to my family. They were devastated at first. But within a few weeks their confusion and pain quickly melted away, they came around and provided me with the love and support I needed. Ever since then, I’ve lived my life as an openly gay man, including at work.
The world awaits
I left Austria when I was 22 for an opportunity to work in New York, where I started a technology business with a friend. That business was acquired by NetSuite a few years later, and another few years later we were acquired by Oracle. As a small-town gay man from Austria, New York felt like a different planet. I was overwhelmed with how thriving the LGBTQ+ culture was in New York. It literally brought me to tears the first time I saw a million people march in the streets for Pride in Manhattan. I definitely wasn’t alone. Living in New York during my 20s taught me to embrace diversity on all spectrums. I’ve never met so many people from so many backgrounds and so different than me. It was enlightening.
After 8 years living in the melting pot of the world, I wanted to move back to Europe and decided to try Barcelona. I’ve lived here ever since. Another multi-cultural and extremely open minded town that made me feel at home immediately. Eight years ago, I met my husband on Grindr. We had a wonderful wedding in a small town in the north of Spain with the local mayor officiating the ceremony. Both our parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends celebrated our love for three days. It was the first same-sex wedding for most of them and there were many tears of joy. While same-sex marriage was legal in Spain since 2008, it still felt momentous to us. The support we received from everyone—even the small-town clerk in rural Spain—was overwhelming.
Building a family
A few years after our wedding, my husband and I started on a new journey—to become parents. Oracle was extremely supportive to me and my husband during this time. I think I was the first Oracle LGBTQ+ employee in Spain who applied for parental leave. It was an opportunity to educate our local HR team on the needs and circumstances of LGBTQ+ parents at Oracle. I really appreciated the willingness to listen and learn on Oracle’s part. Change can be uncomfortable. But willingness to change and putting people first is something that Oracle embraces.
Three years ago our first daughter was born through surrogacy in the United States. A year later our twins joined our family. We now live in a small town north of Barcelona, where our three kids attend public day care. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to raise our children in a safe environment with the support of our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues. We’ve been so moved by the love we’ve received as an LGBTQ+ family in every aspect of our lives.
Paying it forward
I’ve been very lucky to have had colleagues and managers who fully accepted and supported me throughout my professional career. Even though Oracle is a much larger organization than NetSuite, I’ve always felt my values are shared and reflected. I’m especially inspired and grateful for Oracle NetSuite’s founder, Evan Goldberg. He’s been a champion and great ally for LGBTQ+ employees for as long as I’ve known him. He’s been able to set the tone and create a culture that makes us feel safe, above all else.
My positive experiences early on in my career have taught me I want to be visible, and given me the confidence to stand up for myself and for others. I’m eternally grateful to all the people that helped shape me and how I saw myself during those early years. It made me realize how important it is to provide the support, safety, and visibility to younger employees and queer people who may not have the confidence or circumstances to be as open as they would like in their lives.
Taking a stand for equality everywhere
I’ve always felt safe at work, but like every gay person, I’ve experienced awkward situations. Anytime you meet a new person at work—a new colleague, customer, or vendor—there’s friendly small talk. You always ask yourself, do I come out to this person now? Naturally, people want to get to know you. Are you married? Do you have kids? Is your wife Spanish?…Yes, I’m married for 6 years. Yes, I have 3 kids. No, my husband is Spanish!
Never ever having to worry about any negative impact on my career because of my sexual orientation is what I experience at Oracle. However, I realize that even talking about homosexuality is illegal in some countries where we have employees. It troubles me deeply that some of my colleagues don’t have the same liberties I do. I’m so glad that Oracle is taking a global stance on LGBTQ+ issues, speaking up, and giving visibility to employees like me.