My name is Ivi Alejandra Hiller Vargas, I am 26 years old, I have a Business Administration and Strategy degree from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM Puebla). I currently work as a Senior HR Business Partner at Schneider Electric and I am a current global LGBT+ Ambassador and part of the Global LGBT + community at Schneider Electric.
My story begins with me not knowing that I was a lesbian.
I was born in Venezuela, but I had to move to Argentina when I was 12 years old because of my parents’ work. I thought that I would never make friends again. It was very hard for me to adapt to the Argentinian culture, but I realized it wasn’t that bad and I made friends very easy. Four years later we needed to move again and we arrived in Mexico. Eleven years ago I found a loving culture that received me with open arms and taught me how to love them too.
And that was just the beginning of the journey of finding myself.
I was born into a family with strong family values. My mom was a single mom that has always fought to give me and my sister the best, especially in education. Not having a strong male figure in front of me, but a very strong and powerful female figure I grew up believing in the power of women and that everything is possible if you want it and fight for it enough.
With that mindset, I won a scholarship to study at the university that I wanted and to study the degree I was in love with. I moved from Veracruz to Puebla to study. I fought enough until I won another scholarship to study abroad, where I made a specialty in Marketing and Tourism at the UAM in Madrid. And in that constant fight, I was in love with different people, but always men because that was the “right” thing to do. I didn’t know what being a lesbian was. I didn’t even know how to love a person of the same gender as you.
I was always a very good friend with other girls, I was always too kind, too detailed with them, too gentleman (or gentlewoman), I was always aware of them and always tried to make them feel special. Sometimes I felt an irrational love towards them but because I didn’t know that being a lesbian was a possibility, I just thought that I was a very good friend. And always, when I had a boyfriend I just felt that something was missing. I felt incomplete and my relationships only lasted a few months.
When I was in the second year of my degree I met a girl that definitely changed my vision of life and love. When she saw me, she immediately thought that I was a lesbian. But I didn’t know. We started dating, we started doing all kinds of activities together, I invited her to my home one Christmas and she met my family, but I didn’t know what was exactly happening there, until the moment she told me “I know that you are just like me and that I’m just like you. Let’s get to know each other and see what happens then”. And at that moment was when I realized that I was in love with her and that it was okay to be in love with her. That there were a lot of other women that love women and that I was the same person, but now I felt complete and that I could love a person a lot. I remember being as happy as I’ve ever been.
Until the time came to tell my mom. I remember being so afraid, I used to judge myself and think that I was selfish to love another woman not thinking about what the society would say about me and what the society would tell my mom about it. I felt ashamed, but I was so in love that I decided to face it and to talk with my mom.
I remember being ready to talk to her when she said “be careful with spending too much time with that girl (the one that I was in love with but to my mom was presented to as my friend) because I think she is a lesbian and she can confuse you. If you are not confused already”. And I encouraged myself at that moment and told her that I was in love with her. That I didn’t love any other women but her and that I was the same daughter that she loves. A killing silence happened and fifteen minutes after she just told me that she was disappointed at me. It was a Sunday, so I needed to go back to the state where I studied, and we didn’t talk anymore about it. Months after we talked again and she was more relaxed about it but in a phase of denial. Years passed by and she learned how to love me with my preference and how to embrace it and she is so supportive now.
But in my journey, I learned that there was nothing more important than me being true to myself. My family, my beloved ones, not anyone could tell me how to be myself but me. So I started to learn about the LGBT community. When I was studying in Madrid I found a very supportive community that taught me a lot in the subject and that introduced me to the real fight of the community. Our rights as human beings that love other human beings.
I started to work in Schneider Electric in 2017 when I finished my degree, as a fresh graduate, and I was introduced to a very good company with strong values, but I still wasn’t that confident about it so I decided not to tell anyone about my preferences. Besides, I started to work in a plant in Tlaxcala and the culture is not that open to the LGBT+ community (not in the company, but the people that live there). So as time passed by I learned more about the openness of the company and I started telling some of my partners but some of them took it to make fun of, so I decided to close myself from the subject and not to tell anyone else. I kept talking about LGBT as a D&I champion and taught them about the LGBT+ community and there were lots of people that started to be more supportive.
When I left Tlaxcala to move to a Monterrey Plant, everyone knew that I was a lesbian and that I was going to get married and they were supportive of it.
In Monterrey Plant 6, everything was very different, because the more open culture, and I have been true to myself and I have developed myself as a D&I champion, and with a strong team, we have been teaching more and more about the LGBT+ community to our people.
In 2017 I met a girl that changed my life 180° and that taught me what real love was. She was 35 years old at that moment, 11 years older than me, she is a mom of 3 beautiful girls and we started dating. One year later we got married and right now we are a beautiful family of 5 women and 2 female dogs, living happily together and teaching the girls to be aware of our rights and everyone’s rights. We plan to have another baby, and we’re full of life to share and spread with others around us.
I’m very thankful to my family, my friends, and especially to Schneider Electric that has been very supportive of me in this journey. Schneider is a great company putting our rights as human beings first and implementing strong campaigns and policies to help us bring our unique self to work and to feel valued as we have the same benefits to our families just as a heterosexual couple has.
I hope to continue this journey of finding myself each day with the support of everyone that could read this story and that you could find in my story the words that you need to find yourself too.
I am ME, I am UNIQUE, I am Schneider Electric.
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