LGBTQ & Ally Voices of MiQ is an interview series that’s part of our Pride celebrations. In this blog, we’ll hear from MiQ people who are in different roles, in different countries, with different experiences. They’ll tell us about their story, how they’re celebrating Pride and what it means to them. This is just one of the ways we’re supporting the LGBTQ+ community and raising awareness. It reflects how far society has come, but how far we still need to go.
Name: Robert (RC) Whitehouse
Pronouns: He / him
Region: United States
Role: SVP of talent
What was your first Pride experience?
I hadn’t taken part in any Pride celebrations before 2011 because I didn’t want to put myself in that “box.” I’ve always avoided making my gayness a primary identity because I’m so many more things than just that. It’s there, but it’s like having brown hair. I don’t really think of it as something I chose or should be proud about.
As a rule, I hate parades because they are too crowded and you can’t see anything. But in 2011, I was invited to march with the Front Runners (New York’s oldest gay running club) in the New York parade. 2011 was the same year that New York passed gay marriage and I thought marching in the parade could be fun. (And give me more physical space than if I was watching.)
It was a blast. I remember thinking, “Ok. I get it. I understand why it’s important to recognize this progress.” It’s progress I don’t want to take for granted.
What does LGBTQ+ Pride mean to you?
To me, Pride has always been about recognizing that I survived, and I’ve built a life that I was afraid to imagine as a child. Growing up, I had a higher voice, a particular way of saying words that made the “esss” sound a little more “esss-y” than other boys, and a physicality that was traditionally viewed as more feminine. It put a target on my back. Even though I tried for decades and prayed that God would make me move and sound like the other boys, I couldn’t control these parts of me and it was hard to hide. School was rough – I was pushed around, chased, punched, kicked and taunted. I started to accept this was the way things were.
But in my freshman year of high school I said no more. I officially came out and started to say, “Do not treat me this way.” I was so fortunate that somehow my own sense of self-respect translated into respect from others.
When I think back to my childhood and teen years, I still can’t believe that I now have a job I always wanted, a husband, and family and friends that love me. I never thought it was possible. That’s what gives me pride. In my more indulgent moments, when I feel unsure or lacking in confidence, I remind myself, “You did it. You didn’t let others define who you are or what you could do.”
How will you be getting involved with and celebrating Pride this year?
This year, I’m donating to causes that matter to me, and I’m championing the policies and laws that I think make a difference. I wanted to take part in the Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Run, but I unfortunately won’t be able to. But even though I won’t be out marching or dancing, there are other ways to celebrate. The fact I can simply sit with my husband in the yard and hold hands, and just ‘be’ is a celebration and an act of pride.