Pride Month: Milwaukee woman inspires others to walk in their truth
By Andrea Williams,2023-06-07
Recently, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in support of Pride Month. That support includes the display of the Pride flag at County buildings with a mission to demonstrate the commitment to inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
One of those facilities includes the Milwaukee County Zoo. That's where TMJ4's Andrea Williams met Katie Krecklow. Katie works as the Interim Director of Membership, Marketing, and Communications at the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.
"It's all about this cultural asset that we have in Milwaukee and part of my job is to help really promote it, get people to the zoo. I grew up here, so I absolutely love the zoo and to see all the smiling faces, it's heartwarming," said Krecklow.
Krecklow loves her job for many reasons, but the biggest is that she's able to be herself. At past jobs, she wasn't always sure if it was OK to let it be known that she was a gay woman.
"Worried about stereotypes, worried about being a part of the rumor train. When you're straight, you don't have people running to the next cubicle saying did you know she's straight?!
About seven years ago, Krecklow decided to use social media to come out after feeling what she describes as suicidal, depressed, and scared for the future.
"I officially did it in 2016, felt good, felt that I had this off my shoulders, and went to bed that night and woke up the next morning to find out that the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando happened and dozens of people, gay people were killed."
Krecklow is not alone in feeling afraid of being judged or met with negative feelings while at work. The global non-profit Catalyst reports that LGBTQ+ employees often change their behavior to avoid or minimize attention to stigmatized traits also known as "covering", which can be a source of stress that negatively impacts their health and well-being.
- 40.7% of LGBTQ+ employees are covering at their current jobs to avoid harassment and discrimination.
- 54.7% of transgender employees are more likely to cover
- 34.2% of LGBTQ+ employees report leaving a job due to not feeling accepted.
Krecklow recently used the social media platform LinkedIn to make others aware that it's a topic that we have to talk about.
"I think I do my job better that people respect me, I do my job better because I'm happy and hopefully it makes the Zoo a better and a more welcoming place for everyone to be," said Krecklow.
A Harvard study backs up the fact that people who are able to come out at work are happier compared to workers who are out to some people or no one at all, which increases social stress and depression.
What advice does she have for others who are feeling the exact same way? "It's hard, it's not going to be easy to be your authentic self; it's unfortunate, but it's going to feel better. You still may have some fear, but you're going to feel better, you're going to be happier."
It's been said, when you show up authentic, you create the space for others to do the same. In other words...walk in your truth.
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