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On November 27, 2012 at 18:00 CET, SAP will be hosting the ‘It Gets Better‘ Public Event in Walldorf to discuss about the issue of bullying, how it is affecting our youth and what we can do to make it better.

It already feels like ages ago, but it was actually this year when our dear colleague Moya Watson approached the whole SAP LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community to produce an It Gets Better video with SAP employees. Why? Jeffrey Fehr, the son of our colleague Steve Fehr, had committed suicide after years of being bullied due to his sexual orientation. It was time to step out and support others.

I have been working as a volunteer in activities for the LGBT community since 2003. The main focus has always been Diversity and Inclusion at the Workplace. This has helped me grow in the personal level, accepting facts like:

  • there is absolutely nothing wrong with being openly gay in a company.
  • if your employer does not share this view, then you need to look for another place to work that actually values the whole person that you are and not just your professional skills “despite of your sexual orientation”

However, if you had asked me several months ago how my childhood and youth were, I would have said it was really good with no major issues.

It was during the preparation of the It Gets Better video when I needed to “go back in time” and think of my childhood experiences. This inner trip took me to very difficult places: I remembered all those moments being insulted at school or yelled at while walking down the street for not coming across as a macho and for preferring spending time with girls rather than playing with the other boys. I remembered how horrible it was to think that nobody would support me and things would only get worse if I openly spoke about my feelings. I remembered how terrified I was until some friends gave me the courage to come out when I was 22. And I remember very clearly this being the best step I have ever taken in my life, because it was the best step towards personal freedom and enjoying the great experiences that have come since. It definitely got better!

My coming out was not an easy process, but thanks to the support of many good friends and those family members that love me I became the person that I am now.

It was an honour for me to be able to contribute to the It Gets Better film with many other SAP employees.

This film was released in June 7, 2012 in Palo Alto getting fantastic reviews and great support from many colleagues all over the world, as you can see in this SAP internal article.

Many colleagues reached out afterward to HomoSAPiens, the SAP LGBT Employee Network, asking us to bring the message further. So now, with the support of many of those colleagues, we are gladly hosting the “It Gets Better” event on November 27, 2012 in the SAP Headquarters in Walldorf.

We will have the honour to count with the participation of Luisa Delgado, Global Human Resources and Labor Relations Director, Member of the Executive Board of SAP AG and other SAP Executives like Luka Mucic (CFO Global Customer Operations) and Dr. Jan Grasshoff (Global Head of Talent, Leadership and Organizational Design).

Steve Fehr will also join us to share his personal story and discuss with representatives of organizations like BEFAH, SchLAu, PLUS, Charta der Vielfalt and LAMBDA what is being done and what you can do to help prevent and stop bullying against our youth.

Our hope is to be able to reach out to as many people as possible and improve the lives of those that might be suffering bullying at their schools, neighbourhoods, universities or even at their companies.

If you are and SAP employee and would like to join us in Walldorf, attend remotely or simply learn more about the event, you can find more information in this SAP Internal article.

If you are not an SAP employee, you can request more information and register your attendance in advanced reaching out to our colleague kai.wurst@sap.com.

We look forward to meeting you in Walldorf on November 27!

Miguel Castro

Business Development Manager in Healthcare Solution Management, SAP Deutschland AG & Co. KG

Member of HomoSAPiens, the LGBT Employee Network @ SAP

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  1. Tobias Trapp

    Hi Miguel,

    thank you for sharing this! I find SAP’s work really inspiring and exceptional – and SAP does the needful. Why? Let me tell you what happened to me two weeks ago: a friend of mine came to me and told me that her son –a teenager at school- came to her and said that he might be gay. He was really terrified and cried he didn’t want to be gay and he would be better be dead than a queer. This nearly broke her heart but she didn’t know how to help her son. I was the only gay man she knew and so she came to me and asked me for advice. I explained her the feelings of her son:

    • Gay teenagers have no role model. They have really no idea about their future life and this is scary. Moreover, their parents usually can’t give them advice.
    • The news coverage of gay men is biased: media show drag queens, people dying of AIDS, *** parties and so on. This is scary, too.
    • “Gay” is the most used swear word at school. So gay teenagers are afraid of being bullied and being abandoned by their friends.

    I could continue the list and tell them what happens if some “experts” tell them that “this is just a phase” or if parents try to change the sexuality of their children. I know there will be experts at the panel next Tuesday and they will explain this in detail.

    It is sad but the consequence is that the risk committing suicide is appallingly high for lesbian and gay teenagers. And what’s even worse: if they are not accepted by family and friends or bullied at school they will have a hard time. And there’s only one message for them: “It’s getting better”. If lesbian or gay teenagers grows up she or he gets independent and can chose new friends – perhaps he will move away, he will meet peers and find a partner.

    I think the ‘It Gets Better‘ Public Event in Walldorf will be really great and of course I will be there. And I hope that many people will join this event, too, especially parents who don’t know much about the situation of young lesbians and gays.

    Cheers,

    Tobias

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    1. Moya Watson

      Thank you so much Miguel for all you’re doing to make this event happen and for sharing your own personal courageous story.  You’ve  assembled a global village, and our finest villagers and mentors have the chance to come together to take this message of hope and inclusion forward. 

      Making and releasing It Gets Better: SAP Employees this year has been a transformative process for so many.  I personally have found and rekindled so many  allies and friends – big advocates and heroes including Thorsten Franz, Jon Reed, Tammy Powlas, Karin  Tillotson, Marilyn Pratt, Susan Keohan and Abesh Bhattacharjee  … just to name a few of  SAP Mentor comerades.

      I hope some of our Germany-based colleagues can make it to Walldorf for this on Tuesday — I will be dialed in online and cheering from the West Coast USA.

      Tobias Trapp wish I could meet you there! Thanks for your insightful comment above.  It’s so hard to talk about it “getting better” when necessarily acknowledging that it sometimes doesn’t get better, as for wonderful Jeff Fehr.  One guide we found invaluable while preparing for this is Talking About Suicide in LGBT Populations — I welcome all to take a look at it here:  http://www.lgbtmap.org/effective-messaging/talking-about-suicide-and-lgbt-populations

      Some realities are harsh; some are hopeful.  Today, we can choose hope:

      “I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you…And you…And you…Gotta give em hope.” ― Harvey Milk

      thanks

      -m

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