By Kyle Wong
I knew I was gay from a young age. I was scared to share my true self with friends and family – not knowing how people would react made me nervous. I wanted to be included everywhere, and that’s not always the case when you “come out”. My family is mixed-race, Caucasian and Chinese, and I had anticipated some pushback from a cultural perspective. Yet, to my surprise, it was easy to come out to my parents. They were immediately accepting. I also expected to lose friends, but when I didn’t I knew I had chosen the right people to surround myself with.
I felt relief – it was now easier to be who I was.
And, along the way I found Walmart.
I’ve been a Walmart Canada associate for nearly 10 years, starting as a temporary store set-up associate and transitioning through various roles to co-manager here in Vancouver. I didn’t see this as my career when I started, but I’ve had the chance to work in multiple BC locations and continue to grow in the company. I love that I’ve been able to work on so many different things, including assisting in the rollout of self-checkouts across Canada, acting as a fashion champion and helping to organize Pride celebrations in my store.
I walked in the Vancouver Pride Parade with my Walmart Canada family for the first time back in 2017. We were 100 strong that year – associates, family, friends. The next year, our numbers tripled and included people from as far away as Dawson Creek – a 13-hour drive. It was that moment, walking with my colleagues, when I really knew that this is that place. The feeling of getting to be myself at a company, with no need to hide or to be who I’m not, was powerful.
Although we can’t currently celebrate how we normally would, there’s always an opportunity to initiate change and spark an idea at Walmart. This year, we made boxes filled with Pride items like lanyards, flags, stickers and pins to help us celebrate. Originally organized for my market alone, word got out and we’ve been sending the boxes to stores all over BC.
I love seeing our customers’ eyes light up - above their masks - when they see how we’re acknowledging and celebrating Pride.
It’s wonderful to be working somewhere that feels so inclusive – not just during Pride Month, but for other moments that celebrate diversity, too. It’s amazing to be working in a company that includes everyone and makes you feel like you can be yourself.
And, really, that’s what Pride means to me: knowing and accepting who you are and standing up for it – and encouraging others to do the same.