Atlanta’s LGBTQ Job Fair

There is a hot girl sitting at the bar and you can’t take your eyes off of her. You also realize the rest of the room also sees her, and many of them are considering their approach, so you have to act fast. Doing nothing and contemplating how nice it would be to speak with her and have her choose you as her companion for the evening, will leave you with just that … nothing. So, you decide to pour your drink all over yourself and display a monkey-esque style of walking toward her. Disgusted, this beauty stares at you and slowly moves away. That is exactly how it feels to apply for a job through an online site, knowing there is no way anyone will look at or even consider your resume.

I got laid off in early July, and it doesn’t matter how long you have been in the job force; you still feel ridiculously exposed and uncool having to apply for a job. Added to this dilemma is being part of one of the largest unemployment masses in our country’s history, and you become painfully aware that the job search will likely last longer than your ego is willing to handle.

Then a bright spot in the battle: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms holds the first-ever LGBTQ Job Fair. Initially planned as an in-person event, the July 30 fair became virtual due to COVID-19. There were some 20 employers participating that needed to fill around 1,100 jobs. During the hours-long window of the event, you could log in and explore each company’s page and have a live chat with a representative. I perused the site and found a job I was interested in. There was a link that sent me to their website to apply, and within a 4-hour period I had two interviews with the company. I was offered a position the following week.

The company is not in Atlanta, but they allowed remote work through the rest of the pandemic, which was what my immunocompromised-self was looking for. During my interviews with other company representatives I mentioned finding out about the job at Atlanta’s LGBTQ Job Fair, and the company’s representatives were excited, not only that they had participated, but that I was there to see them.

It’s important for other companies to remember that such efforts toward a disenfranchised community actually have more ripple effects than with the general public, because that smaller group then has the sense that you really think they’re important. Of course, that’s the core of everybody’s ultimate desire, but for us that experience can be much more intense. It brought me back to being 14 and having the feeling, “I can’t believe this company puts a rainbow flag in their logo. I can’t believe there are people who give a damn, publicly give a damn.” So much of our lives as lesbians and gays and transgender people are spent in the closet, isolated, in hiding. And to support us like these companies did, I can’t express how much it still means to me and how happy I am to call one my employer.