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BUENOS AIRES wall by SEBA CENER

The right to be yourself

Cristian Pons

Finance Specialist

At the age of nine, Cris Pons realized he didn’t feel exactly the same way as his classmates. As the boys turned to look at girls, he preferred to look at other boys. One day, while watching a movie next to a friend, two men appeared on the scene. He ignored what he felt even though it seemed right. Back then, in America, a small town with 10,000 inhabitants in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was still a long way from even hearing the word “homosexuality.”

When his father was relocated for work, they moved to the capital city of Buenos Aires. Once there, he found out there were other forms of affection than the ones he had seen in his hometown. He didn’t change his behavior or feelings after returning to America, but this sadly led to him discovering the existence of bullying. His classmates shouted obscenities at him for being different.

Drag the mouse to check out the before and after pictures of Cristian's wall.

At the age of 13, he began dating a girl but she quickly ended the relationship and told him she would not go out with him anymore because he was gay.

That was like a punch in the face! Other people were already making assumptions about my sexuality, but I was not ready yet.

When he finished high school, he moved to La Plata to attend college, but the teasing continued. One day, he was waiting inside a car when a group of young people stopped close by and started cursing at him. It hurt, but at that point Cris was more confident with who he was than he had ever been before.

During one of his increasingly rare visits to the family home, Cris was alone in his bedroom when his father came in and said, “Can I ask you something?” He froze, sat on his bed and said yes. The words that came out of his dad’s mouth were those he had been dreading for almost 20 years, his father asked, “Are you gay?” Cris summoned up the courage to confirm that he was and his father started to cry. He gave his son a hug and said that he would still love him the same way he always did. Cris spent the rest of the day out of the house so his dad could share the news with his mom. He came back hours later; her eyes were swollen.

She told me she’d known since I was ten. She said it would take her some time to get used to the idea, but that I could always count on her.

It felt like he had been born again, at age 28.

His decade-long relationship with his boyfriend came to an end. Cris partly attributes the troubled breakup to the fact that his family did not support him ‒ there was no one for Cris to confide in and that made him keep too many feelings to himself. But now he could share what he felt with those he loved the most, and it made him stronger.

Coming out to his family was a long and painful process, but it was not the only one. There were also work relationships to deal with. Before joining SAP, he worked for a company where he thought it was best to keep his sexuality a secret since he didn’t feel comfortable sharing it with colleagues. By the time he and his boss were friendly enough, he decided to come clean. His reaction was far from the one he’d expected and closer to his worst fears. His boss said he couldn’t believe it, stood up and didn’t talk with him again for the rest of the day. On the following day, when Cris asked if there was anything he wanted to say to him, he pretended nothing had happened and moved on without ever discussing the subject again. Like so many other times in his life, Cris felt invisible.

Today, Cris is 33 years old and everything has changed. He's been dating Alan for the last four years ‒ and his parents know him and treat him as part of the family. The couple live together and have a Jack Russell Terrier named Jagger.

At SAP, no longer invisible, Chris can sit in front of his laptop and see the rainbow flag on his desk. He is very proud of working for a company that genuinely supports and values authenticity. He volunteers for Pride@SAP, SAP’s LGBT employee network group, and continuously engages in activities that help increase awareness and engagement on LGBT-related topics at the workplace. “At last, I was able to stop lying to myself and hiding my identity. Now I can relax, stay calm and celebrate diversity while contributing at work. Everything is exactly as it should be.”

Address of graffiti art: 3059, Matienzo St. | Buenos Aires, Argentina