CONTENT WARNING: Suicide | Homophobia
In August, lumenomics received the following email through our website’s contact portal:
As a certified LGBTQ-owned company in the construction industry, we’re used to judgmental looks, raised eyebrows, and even the occasional cold shoulder. However, outright targeted hate like this was a first for us. At lumenomics, we work hard to be boldly visible in our industry as an LGBTQ+ business. While it’s often intimidating, our experiences have never discouraged us from being who we are and standing up for what we believe in.
Messages like this are meant to intimidate and threaten marginalized voices like ours, and we’d be lying if we said it didn’t disappoint us to have such terrible words sent directly to our inbox. However, this email does strongly communicate the continued need for work towards equity, inclusion, and understanding for LGBTQ+ people in our industry and world.
Whether it’s daylight design or in our own lives, we believe in transformation, change, and love. Even in the face of such an ugly and hateful message, we couldn't help but see the potential for something beautiful to blossom. That’s why we wanted to use this opportunity as a catalyst to do something good in our community and raise awareness of the discrimination LGBTQ+ people face in our industry and world.
What transpired next was incredible.
Taking a cue from “Mr. Straightman” we sought out the highest accessible bridge in Seattle - The Aurora Bridge. However, rather than jump off it, we planned to stand proudly and wave our lumenomics flag high. We partnered with Seattle Public Utilities' Adopt-a-Street program to formally adopt the streets near the Aurora Bridge and the Fremont Troll for the next two years. On August 21st, with the help of our team, community, and supporters like GSBA, we hosted our first volunteer Trolls & Trash clean-up event to tidy up the streets and improve our beloved city. The event was a tremendous success.
After our inaugural Trash & Trolls clean-up event, we felt empowered to continue transforming this moment into something positive. Rather than just raising awareness through volunteering, we could also use this opportunity to help materially change the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Immediately following the clean-up, we launched a donation match campaign for The Trevor Project, pledging to match up to $1,500 in donations. Through this three week campaign, we and our partners were able to share our story and invite others to help address the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide. With the generous help of our friends, family, business community, and partner organizations, we not only reached our match goal, but exceeded it!
With our match, we raised $3520 for LGBTQ+ youth!
With the donation match completed, we were overjoyed with the success of our Trolls & Trash initiative. For us, sharing our story, volunteering in our community, and raising money for vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth was more than we could have ever hoped for. However, something else was just on the horizon!
Thanks to a connection from our fantastic friends at the GSBA, we were connected with the Seattle Mariners, who were so encouraged by our story that they invited CEO and Founder Marti Hoffer to throw out the opening pitch of their Pride Night Game! With Teamlu cheering her on from the stands, Marti took to the mound to open the game- representing lumenomics and the LGBTQ+ community for all to see.
As we reflect back on the events of this saga, we’re filled with gratitude for how this terrible message blossomed into such a beautiful moment. None of this would have been possible without the love and support of our friends, family, and business community, who stood with us in solidarity from the very start. However, we also owe a great debt of gratitude to our beloved friend, Mr. Straightman, for being the catalyst for this incredible journey.
Mr. Straightman, thank you for reminding us that there is more work to be done in fostering inclusivity and inspiring us to begin doing it. We’re sorry for the anger and hostility you hold, but we want you to know that we love and forgive you.
As LGBTQ+ people, we carry a spirit of resiliency and hope that can never be extinguished. However, the challenges we face against discrimination and bigotry in the construction industry and the world at large are daunting. Creating an equitable place for all requires more work than we can do by ourselves. We need continued proactive allyship in our industry and communities. While the support, encouragement, and resources we received throughout our journey here were important, the real work to be done is needed in our offices, job sites, and communities. We must be vigilant in creating safe, inclusive, and protective places for LGBTQ+ people in our workplaces. Together, we can create a world where everybody can be who they are and thrive.