Embracing Pride in the Heart of New York City

Jacqueline Castillo, Implementation Manager at DailyPay

Jacqueline Castillo, Implementation Manager at DailyPay

By Jacqueline Castillo, Implementation Manager at DailyPay

I am a first-generation Mexican American who grew up in a quaint, conservative town in Texas. In such an environment, exploring one’s personal identity, let alone sexuality, was a challenge constrained by rigid social norms. My journey led me to various cities in Texas where, despite these constraints, I gradually found the courage to question and redefine my own identity. However, breaking free from the standards imposed on me by my upbringing and community proved to be a formidable task.

It wasn’t until I relocated to the vibrant metropolis of New York City, January 2023, and joined DailyPay that I truly discovered the freedom to be myself. New York, with its rich mixture of cultures and identities, provided a sanctuary for me where my individuality could thrive and where societal judgments dissolved into acceptance. It was here, amidst the eclectic energy of the city, that I embarked on a profound journey of self-discovery. Moving was not easy. In the midst of heartbreak, I faced the pivotal choice of relocating to New York City solo or embracing a fresh start in familiar surroundings. Opting to venture alone to a city where I knew no one granted me the freedom to delve deep into my emotions, reflecting on the reasons that drew me to NYC, and prioritizing self-care. Navigating the challenge of forging new connections, I discovered the art of being comfortable in solitude without succumbing to loneliness. It became evident that inhabiting a space where one is unknown offers a blank canvas to authentically express oneself, free from the scrutiny of others’ perceptions or the fear of judgment amidst personal growth.

My transformative experience began with a simple yet empowering moment at DailyPay’s Drag Queen show hosted by DailyPride – DailyPay’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group (ERG). Approached by the Queen herself, in a space brimming with inclusivity, I found the courage to proclaim, ‘I am bisexual.’ I was met with applause and unwavering support from coworkers and strangers. This moment provided validation I didn’t know I needed. Being accepted and celebrated by unfamiliar faces started my own path to self-acceptance and authenticity. I began to surround myself with more LGBTQ+ members and allowed myself to be vulnerable with my experience. It turns out that my experience was not original. My new friends had similar stories about coming out, hidden feelings, and validated that I was not alone. I also learned that Gen Z (I’m technically a young Millennial ‘95) does not bother with “coming out” they just are. There is no big revelation or conversation to be had. There is no legitimate reason why I could not adopt that mentality and also simply be myself. 

As a member of various employee resource groups, particularly DailyPride, I’ve witnessed firsthand the unwavering commitment that DailyPay has to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all individuals. Regardless of where one stands on their journey of self-discovery, whether coming out or exploring their identity, DailyPride provides a nurturing community and essential resources for individuals and allies alike.

At DailyPay, transparency, inclusion, and diversity are not just buzzwords but integral values that shape our workplace culture. It fills me with pride to witness our LGBTQ+ colleagues, including our esteemed leaders, embracing their authentic selves without fear of judgment. Their openness serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to embrace their identities unapologetically.

As we celebrate Pride Month, I am reminded of the progress we’ve made as a society while acknowledging ongoing struggles for equality. I’m proud to work for DailyPay – a company that embodies a community where victories are celebrated, and where the pursuit of inclusivity and acceptance remains unwavering. Together, we stand on the precipice of change, advocating for a world where every individual, regardless of label, is accepted and safe.

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