Every year during the month of June, the world comes together to uplift LGBTQ+ communities across the globe – diverse, beautiful, and unique in our struggles and our identities. To celebrate Pride Month 2020, RV’s LGBTQ+ teammates are sharing their narratives through our new “Love Letters” series.
Each piece in the series will focus on the power of the letters across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and how they shape our perception of ourselves and others.
Let’s use this Pride Month to love openly, learn proactively, and listen intentionally to our brave RV peers who are welcoming us into this important conversation with vulnerability and celebration.
Ryenne Dietrick (pronouns: she/her) is an Associate Engineer at our Charlotte office–but more recently, she’s been operating from her couch! She’s been a member of the RV Engineering team for just under a year (her work-iversary is in August!). Ryenne identifies as a lesbian, and today she’s courageously sharing a piece of her Pride journey.
Q: Tell us a bit about your coming out story.
A: I want to preface this by saying I’m very fortunate to have very accepting parents and family, and that I’ve always known I wasn’t straight. My parents let me be who I wanted to be and dress how I wanted to dress, which was often in boys camo clothing and never in anything traditionally “girly” or pink. I almost got a buzz cut when I was six, but didn’t because my dad told me I’d have to put sunscreen on my head.
I wanted my sexuality to be like my nose. I can’t always see it, but I know it’s there.Ryenne
I think my parents received more homophobic remarks from other parents at birthday parties when I was younger than I have had directed at me throughout my life. I’m thankful that they shielded me from those remarks and allowed me to be an individual from such a young age. I can say with certainty that my journey with my sexuality would have been much more difficult otherwise. Those privileges have afforded me the ability to (for better or worse) not have to think twice when speaking openly about my sexuality.
My coming out story is more so about growing comfortable in my own skin than it is about telling the world who I am. When I was in high school, my parents used to try and pry in order to get me to come out. I remember telling them, “At the end of the day we are all just people, so why does my sexual preference, whether it’s the same or different from yours, permit you to pester me about mine?” I wanted my sexuality to be like my nose. I can’t always see it, but I know it’s there. I know that’s a weird analogy, but to me that means that it’s a part of me; my sexuality is not the cornerstone of who I am, not my defining feature, nor is it a flaw. I find there are so many more important qualities about a person than their sexuality. I decided to finally “come out” to my parents in December of 2019 when I wanted them to meet my partner. I’m thankful that they were very accepting.
It’s weird to say, but I’m officially out to more people at work than in my family; although, this is unintentional. I never lie when someone asks me about “special people in my life,” so it’s just a matter of I haven’t seen some of my family members in a long time or they haven’t asked. If they were to have an “issue” with my sexuality, so be it, but I won’t pretend to be something I’m not for their comfort and normalcy.
Q: How has your relationship with identity and labels changed over time? How did you discover what label currently fits you best, if there is one?
A: I’ve definitely struggled with labels and I still do, but not in the sense that I don’t know what label best fits me. Labels have always felt restrictive to me. I’m proud to identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but I am so much more than the letter that characterizes my sexuality.
Be willing to compromise on everything except who you are and draw the line firmly there.Ryenne
I worry that by labeling myself outwardly I give other people the power to exclude me or write me off and put me in a box. I know that this fear shouldn’t be the case, but I also worry that the label I choose now will not fit in years to come. It’s hard to reconcile these feelings because I always want to be growing and changing without fear or consequence. Unfortunately, I don’t think society is there yet, but I have hope and have seen positive change. At the end of the day, we are all humans, and to me that is the most important label.
Q: If you could, what would you tell your younger self about your LGBTQIA+ identity?
A: If I could speak with my younger self, I’m not sure anything I could say now would stick! Coming out and accepting yourself is a trial by fire and one you only make progress in when you’re ready! However, some lessons I wish I learned and realized sooner are:
- The less time you spend in your head or worrying about the opinions of others, the happier and more confident you’ll be.
- Forgive yourself for your past mistakes, and forgive yourself in advance for all the ones you’re going to make.
- Be kind and patient because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Be willing to compromise on everything except who you are and draw the line firmly there.
- You are not responsible for how others react to your presence.
Q: What advice would you offer to someone who wants to ask questions and learn about different identities?
A: Ask questions, be respectful of people’s experiences and comfort levels, but most importantly be open minded! Learn about people’s pasts and their experiences! This goes beyond identities.
I always feel more inclined to work harder for people when I feel like they know and care about me beyond my work abilities. It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone has differing levels of comfort when talking or discussing identities. However, when people are engaging in discussion through the lens of one’s experiences, I’ve always found it less scary and more educational. I’m less likely to feel hurt or upset if someone uses wrong language regarding my identity when my experiences are at the forefront of the discussion. Instead, I view the interaction as an opportunity to educate someone on the LGBTQIA+ community.