From fearful to fearless
The summer of 2010 was the start of a new chapter for me and my partner. Recently married, we had just moved to Maryland and purchased our first home, and I was beginning my career at Fannie Mae. I was happy and excited — but our new life was also fraught with obstacles.
A fearful beginning
As a gay couple whose marriage wasn’t legally recognized in the state we lived in, we didn’t have the same rights as straight couples. We could be denied hospital visitation privileges and medical decision-making rights and could not adopt a child together.
Until 2020, there were no federal laws in place that expressly prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, so anyone that identified as LGBTQ+ could lose their job. You read that right — just two years ago.
At my previous companies, I kept my personal life separate from my professional life because of my vulnerable legal status. I feared what might happen if I was too candid with my colleagues. I could lose my job or be unable to advance in my career. I feared that I would be treated differently for loving the person that I love. Back then, there was no “coming out” at the workplace — it simply didn’t happen, and I had no desire to rock the boat.
All I wanted was to hang a picture of my husband in my cube without fear.
Because of those fears, I wasn’t initially “out” when I started working at Fannie Mae. However, I came to realize that being my authentic, whole self was not only accepted at Fannie Mae, but encouraged. It felt great to come out to my manager and have him ask, and truly care, about my husband.
When I joined the company’s Live Openly Employee Resource Group (ERG), it felt like a home away from home. I began attending monthly “Safe Space” meetings where I could bring up LGBTQ+ concerns and questions and connect with like-minded others. Because I worked in Learning and Development, I volunteered to help create and facilitate training sessions on allyship. I was proud of this work, and when Fannie Mae achieved its first 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, I was overjoyed.
As I started to become more active in the diversity and inclusion space, I decided to move from fearful to fearless. I pulled off that rainbow-colored bandage and embraced my intersectional identity as a married, Latino, gay male with a disability.
I even mustered up the courage to finally hang a picture of my husband in my cube.
Inclusivity at our core
Fannie Mae now participates in the D.C. Capital Pride parade and festival, promotes inclusive email signatures, provides quarterly “Allies 101” and trans awareness training, and offers comprehensive surrogacy benefits — making allyship central to its corporate culture.
Fannie Mae is committed to promoting diversity and fostering inclusion. Its ERGs support and empower employees to help their colleagues reach their highest potential through education, raising awareness, and celebrating diversity.
Ready to join our team? Search our open opportunities.
Editor’s note — In memory of Rocky W. We mourn the passing of our colleague’s loving husband on May 22, 2022.