Mike is Director of HR Distribution & Supply Chain and an all-around great guy. He has been part of #LifeAtPetSmart for over 20 years and took some time to share his story of Belonging.
The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other. To learn more about the “I Belong” Series or to submit your stories, please visit our new Belonging Fetch Page.
Unfortunately, I grew up being taught that being part of the LGBTQ community was wrong. It was against everything my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents believed in.
While I never truly weighed in on the subject or took adverse action towards someone being LGBTQ, I never defended them either.
Fast forward to 2010, and I was blessed to have an additional son added into my life through marriage to my incredible wife, Carmon. Andrew is the most intelligent, loving, considerate human being you will ever meet, and I am proud to call him my son, and by the way, he is gay. Andrew has helped me to understand how difficult it has been for him growing up, coming out, and living with the negativity, anger, and in some sad cases, hatred because he is gay.
For me, the saddest part is knowing that many people don't judge him for his heart or for the things he does for others - they judge him for being gay. It’s not a choice he made, it’s not because of how he was raised, it’s not a disease he contracted, it’s also not something that should be hidden from the world. He adds light to a very dark space of our world. He opened my eyes and helped me understand my responsibility, how I can be an advocate for others.
We have now been blessed with a new son-in-law, Edgar. Andrew and Edgar bring nothing but joy and compassion to our world. For those who can't see it, I hope that one day you can see beyond any bias you may hold. I’ve learned it’s about accepting people for who they are, who they truly are, and not how you want them to be. Andrew is my son, and I love him for who he is. I'm very proud to be Andrews's father for who he truly is.