Honolulu Pride Month Employee Spotlight: Noe Jan Gumboc
Reading time: 8 minutes
October 11th, 2022
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, an annual celebration of recognizing, accepting, and sharing one's sexual orientation and gender identity with the public. However, the metaphor "coming out of the closet" isn't limited to a single day; coming out represents a meaningful step for LGBTQ+ individuals who choose to live openly as their authentic selves. It is also a day of encouragement for those thinking of coming out and a day of support for those who choose to keep their sexual identity a secret.
National Coming Out Day commemorates the anniversary of the 1987National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ rights that included more than 200,000 participants. It's an important date as part of LGBT History Month, a month-long observance of the history of LGBTQ+ civil rights held each October, which coincides with Honolulu Pride Month in Hawaii.
Celebrating Pride each October has a special significance for Noe Jan Gumboc, manager of Bank of Hawaii's Kahana branch on Maui. Since 2018, Noe, along with some of his coworkers and friends have flown from Maui to Honolulu to participate in Pride events each October. Just this past June, Noe flew to Honolulu to volunteer at the Honolulu Pride Community Picnic accompanied by his boyfriend and a fellow branch manager from Lanai. Although now active in the LGBTQ+ community, there was a time when Noe, who was born in the Philippines and grew up in Maui, didn't always feel comfortable being out and, for a long time he wasn't even sure what that meant.
"I knew I was different, but I didn't think I was gay because the gay culture in the Philippines often meant wearing costumes and crossdressing, and I was never interested in that," Noe says. "In high school, I went into an online chatroom and found out you can be gay and still identify as a man or have manly characteristics, and that became my starting point."
Noe didn't tell his parents at first; whenever he mentioned relationships, he would say he had a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend. Ultimately, Noe's sister outed him. "My parents are okay with it now, and I still have contact with both my parents, but I wouldn't say my parents fully accept it. Instead, they tolerate it. But as you go out into the world, you meet people and those friends become like adopted family," says Noe.
A few years after high school Noe moved to the Mainland with a man he met in Maui. Together, they ran a real estate rental company where Noe managed the bookkeeping and other responsibilities. "A lot of gay kids out there may wind up with the wrong crowd. I was lucky to find someone that I was able to stick with for a long time," Noe says. He and his boyfriend were together for more than a decade before separating; Noe later moved to San Francisco, where he worked in marketing and accounting for a time before returning to Maui in 2014.
"Bank of Hawaii was the first company that offered me a job at the Lahaina branch. I thought it would be temporary, but my manager at the time saw potential in me. After a year, she said that if she promoted me I had to promise to stick with it, and I did," says Noe, who worked his way up from teller, to a universal banker, to assistant branch manager. Nearly nine years since first joining Bank of Hawaii, Noe now runs his own branch in Kahana. "As the manager, I'm basically the support for my whole team to make sure no one's overburdened because I can work all positions at the bank."
Recently, Noe's passion and initiative earned him a spot in a cohort of Bank of Hawaii's annual Pathways to Professional Excellence program, where Bank of Hawaii employees learn valuable leadership skills, meet for networking opportunities, and listen to speakers who are a mix of executives at Bank of Hawaii and throughout the community. "They talk about different departments they handle, why they decided to go into their field, what the future is for the bank, and so on," Noe says. "Starting out at Bank of Hawaii, I just thought there was a teller or a manager, that's it. But there are so many different departments, and this program sheds light on those if you ever want to transfer to another area of the bank. You also connect with people in your cohort and build bonds that can last for a long time."
"Looking back on my own experiences, people should come out if and when they want to come out. It shouldn't be something they're forced to do, like what happened with me. Coming out should be on your terms, not anybody else's," says Noe. "It's nice being in a community and working in a culture that supports LGBTQ+ rights and Pride. There are also resources like if you need help or need to talk to someone, we have those types of benefits too. It's different now because being gay is more accepted than before, but it's still good to know that my company is here for me. I think that's a really great thing."
Honolulu Pride Month is celebrated annually in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day (October 11) and the first and second marches for LGBT rights in Washington in 1979 and 1987. The Honolulu Pride Parade, a Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation event, is also held annually in October. Learn how you can support or get involved with the Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation by visiting their website.
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