HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nearly 1 in 10 LGBTQ people in the United States experienced workplace discrimination last year, everything from sexual harassment to physical attacks.
On Wednesday, dozens of businesses claiming a commitment to doing the right thing welcomed hundreds of job seekers to apply for work with their companies, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.READ MORE: New York Landmarks Lit In Pink, White & Blue To Honor Transgender Day Of Remembrance
Jason Freeman of Mount Sinai didn’t know what to expect when he signed in and registered for the first-ever LGBTQ Job Fair on Long Island.
He was blown away.
“I think it’s a great day to be alive. Twenty years ago, when I was coming of age, this sort of thing was, well, frowned upon,” Freeman said. “The LGBTQ community was not welcomed, not embraced. Now, we are seeing major corporations from like local to mainstream actually recruiting our community.”
Thirty-five businesses and 200 job seekers showed up. The LGBT Network headquarters in Hauppauge had to extend the hours of the fair.
“It’s so great to see this turnout between two separate giant rooms of employers coming together, saying this is what we want to do,” said Scott Butler of Bay Harbour Insurance Company.
The companies, large and small, said their hands were not forced.READ MORE: Nonprofits Now Have New Home In Brooklyn, Thanks To Transformation Of Bedford-Union Armory
“The businesses that are here today are not here because of just the policy. They are here because they are truly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said David Kilmnick, president and CEO of the LGBT Network.
Last year, in a sweeping landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal civil rights law.
Now, many say it’s time to make meaningful workplace changes.
“An event like this, I don’t really have to put the mask on as I would with a normal job fair because I know these people are looking for employees like me,” Queens resident Brian Rodriguez said.
Joey Villafane of LIndenhurst said he has felt the sting of ridicule, taunting, and harassment in the workplace.
“It makes a difference when you open up and accept us and give us the opportunities that we didn’t always have,” Villafane said.MORE NEWS: 'Spirit Day' Encourages Support For LGBTQ+ Youth, Offers Solidarity Against Bullying, Harassment
Pride at work, he said, can be the new norm.