Boehringer Ingelheim Rainbow Network
06 September 2017

“Nothing to Hide Anymore”

Markus Pax, works at Boehringer Ingelheims’s IT Operations Quality Control Europe & Asian Pacific department and describes himself as “very hetero-influenced”. After a divorce in mid-life, Markus Pax realized he is gay.


Initially, coming out was not easy for him. But openly acknowledging his identity as a gay man and committing to the Boehringer Ingelheim’s Rainbow Employee Resource Group has helped him to come to terms with himself. An Interview by Jan Pfaff.

Mr Pax, how are you going to spend today’s evening?


I will spend my evening very conservatively at home on the couch with my family. We are a wonderful rainbow family. Together with my son and my “stepdaughter”, we are going to cook. My partner has come out only two years prior to me and due to our late outings we are both very equal in our roles and for example, we have no assigned roles in the household there is no “house husband” among us. My partner and I are fully equal on all accounts.


You have come out at your work environment at Boehringer Ingelheim. What experiences did you have with leaders and colleagues in your professional life?


I have been living in a permanent relationship with a man for two and a half years now. It was only after the divorce from my wife in 2014 that I fully realised that I am gay. Before I came out at the workplace, my co-workers only knew me as a husband with a wife. I knew it was better to explain myself to my direct colleagues before they could spot me somewhere with my partner. The atmosphere in my team was quite relaxed after my outing. My team leader also reacted very positively and said to me “So what, you’re still the same. It’s your work that matters.” One colleague, to whom I came out first, could help me a lot afterwards: he is “straight” , but likes Ralf Koenig Since I had yet to learn “gayness”, I could learn much from him about gays and the world of everyday gay life.


In January of this year, you changed your place of work to your current team which entailed kind of a second outing. Was this experience positive, as well?


Yes, and I have learned that I can sometimes learn very personal things from conversation partners, because people have become much more open to me. With some of my colleagues, I can treat the topic in a very relaxed way. When I brought my partner to our team’s festivities, some of my colleagues mistook him for some new staff member.


What role do sexual orientation and gender identity play in Boehringer Ingelheim’s everyday life?


Actually, none at all. We strive for inclusion, but at the same time, living in the closet was hell forme. I had to meet my boyfriend in secret and be very careful of what I toldpeople about myself in conversations – or so I thought. After my coming out, I felt relieved: now I can freely have a chat, because there is nothing to hide anymore. And I can be my authentic/true self. I can comfortably bring my partner with me to company events. I am also open about my orientation on Facebook. My surroundings and my neighbours are aware of it. I am much more careful in an international setting or in certain countries where being gay may not be well received


You participate in the Rainbow Network in Ingelheim. How did you become involved?


The colourful advertisement in rainbow colours on our intranet had made me aware of this employee resource group. I am a member since it formed last Summer. In early June this year, I helped to staff the Rainbow booth at Diversity Day in Ingelheim. I also attended “Diversity in Working Life” on August 9th at the Koblenz town hall.


What can the Rainbow Network achieve from your perspective? Why is it worthwhile to participate?


To us it is important to show our colours and to fly the flag; to be visible. The Rainbow employee resource group wants to remove biases, prejudices, and stereotypes that some employees and leaders might have. In addition, we want to help reduce fears and anxieties of those who themselves are LGBTIQ and want to come to terms with it. Knowing you are not alone helps immensely. I have found significant support from the Rainbow employee resource group. We meet frequently to discuss our network’s development and to exchange views with our colleagues in Biberach. This engagement is also important, because through their commitment, all members show their co-workers that Boehringer Ingelheim is open-minded and fosters diversity and inclusion. People engaged with the employee resource group demonstrate directly that as LGBTIQ employees they feel welcome at their workplaces and naturally give a hundred per cent at their jobs. However, no one needs to come out in order to participate. Ultimately, we want to be approachable by non-LGBTIQ employees, too. No one needs to make assumptions. Whoever has questions – ask away! All are welcome!


What advice would you give to a new LGBTIQ employee who has not yet come out at the workplace?


Stay calm. You do not have to do anything. However, coming out is an incredible relief. Most problems are homemade. I did not accept being gay for nearly 40 years and I had many conscious and unconscious biases. I imagined how negatively people would react to seeing me with my boyfriend, and what might possibly happen. In the end, I barely had any negative experiences at all. And now my colleagues and I feel even more true to our selves and can speak freely with no fear or judgment about being LGBTIQ. It is important to live free, for there is no use having fear in the back of one’s head. If someone needs help, they should get it. There are counseling services such as the LGBTIQ cultural centre “Bar Jeder Sicht” in Mainz, the gay father’s resource group, the counselling team “Bunte Nummer” in Wiesbaden – or, of course, the Boehringer Ingelheim Rainbow Network.

"After my coming out came the relief: now there is nothing to hide anymore, Markus Pax relates. "
Denise Hottmann
Markus Pax, Boehringer Ingelheim

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