I joined Cloudflare in July of 2019, but I’ve known of Cloudflare for years. I always read the blog posts and looked at the way the company was engaging with the community. I also noticed the diversity in the names of many of the blog post authors.
There are over 50 languages spoken at Cloudflare, as we have natives from many countries on our team, with different backgrounds, religions, gender and cultures. And it is this diversity that makes us a great team.
A few days ago I asked one of my colleagues how he would say “Happy Holidays!” in Arabic. When I heard him say it, I instantly got the idea of recording a video in as many languages as possible of our colleagues wishing all of you, our readers and customers, a happy winter season.
It only took one internal message for people to start responding and sending their videos to me. Some did it themselves, others flocked in a meeting room and helped each other record their greeting. It took a few days and some video editing to put together an informal video that was entirely done by the team, to wish you all the best as we close this year and decade.
So here it is: Happy Holidays from all of us at Cloudflare!
Let us know if you speak any of the languages in the video. Or maybe you can tell us how you greet each other, at this time of the year, in your native language.
Recently, I deployed a human to production. Shipped at 11 lbs 3 oz, he rapidly doubled in size in his first six months. At Cloudflare, I run the Developer Relations team, and my first quarter back from parental leave, I had 3 business trips: 2 international, 1 domestic. As an exclusive breastfeeder, this means solving the logistical puzzle of moving a large quantity of milk home, to the tune of 40-50 oz (1200 – 1500 mL) per day given the size of my baby.
Since I ferried milk home to my baby and did extensive research in preparation, I figured I’d pay it forward and share my own learnings, and publish the guide that I wished someone wrote for me. In the final section for further reading, I’ve linked many of the articles I read in preparation although some of the advice from the reading is rather dated. I’m including them because I’m grateful to be standing on the shoulders of giants and accumulating the wisdom of all the parents who went on this adventure before me. What’s possible in 2019 is truly amazing compared to a generation ago or even half to one decade ago.
Before I dive into the advice, I’d like to thank the other parents in our Parents group for their advice and help, our Office Team for maintaining a mother’s room in every HQ (even 2 in San Francisco), our People Team for their support of the Parents Employee Resource Group (ERG) and for helping me research insurance related questions, and Cloudflare in general for family friendly policies. (See career opportunities at Cloudflare )
What’s in my pump bag?
When packing my pump bag, I packed for 2 pumping use cases: 1) pumping on the airplane or in a non-ideal (nursing room) area of an airport, and 2) pumping in a conference-provided mother’s room or a non-ideal private area. Here’s my packing list:
Pump Bag packing list (and notes):
Insulated cooler backpack
I used an Igloo cooler bag because it was large enough to accommodate a smaller insulated milk bag and had separate compartments so I can access pump items without subjecting the inside to warm / room temperature air.
Insulated milk bag
Travel pump and bottles
Baby Buddha pump
It charges via USB so I can use my power brick as a backup. This was recommended by another parent in the Parents ERG group. My first trip I packed my Baby Buddha, my Willow set, and my manual pumps for the trip, but I really relied on the Baby Buddha for all my subsequent trips. (At home I use Spectra, and at work we share a Medela hospital grade pump. I suppose I’m pumped to be a pump enthusiast.) On subsequent trips, I no longer packed bottles and went exclusively Kiinde + Baby Buddha.
Pump cleaning wipes
I used Medela pump wipes. A large box came with a microwave sterilizer bag.
2 refrigerator thermometers (see temperature management section below)
Extra gallon ziplock bags (a lot of them)
If you are traveling in the U.S., I recommend printing out these two TSA policypages. Many airlines allow your medical device (e.g., breast pump) to be a separate carry-on item. Before my trips, I printed the airline policy page that states this for each airline I had flights with and stored it in my pump bag. Although it didn’t come in necessary, I’m glad it was there just in case. Each airline may have a different policy, so call each airline and confirm that the pump bag did not count against carry-on limits, even though you’re also printing out the policy from their website.
Sharpie to label milk bags
Travel pump parts cleaning kit
Ice Packs (must be frozen solid to pass through security)
It is possible for an insulated milk bag inside a cooler backpack to maintain <4C for a 10 hour flight, I’ve done it. However, it will require multiple replenishments of ziplock bags of ice. Use the long lasting type of ice pack (not the ones for treating injuries) so they stay frozen solid, not only through security but throughout the flight.
Manual pump as a backup
I have both a Haakaa and a NatureBond manual pump for worst case scenario planning. Although I didn’t end up needing them during the flight, I would still pack them in the future to literally take the pressure off in tight situations.
Regular personal item packing list:
Hand sanitizer wipes (wipes are not a liquid and don’t count toward your quota, hooray!)
Baby bottle dish soap, travel size (with your liquids)
Big tupperware container (makeshift dishpan for washing pump parts)
Battery pack backup in case I can’t find an outlet (optional)
Nursing cover for pumping in my seat (optional)
Pro-Tips and lessons I learned from my journey:
Pre-assemble pump parts and store in ziplock bags; each pump separately. My preference for a 10-12 hour flight is to pack 3 kits: each kit is one pump part set, fully assembled with adapter and Kiinde bag, and an extra Kiinde bag. I’d then pump one side at a time, using the same kit, swap bags between sides (or when one was full). Since the Baby Buddha comes with 2 sets (one for each side), I used a Spectra set from home and the unofficial Baby Buddha component hacks. Even though I had pump wipes, I saved all my pump sets for a proper deep clean after getting to the hotel.
If/when I do need to clean pump parts on the plane (e.g., if, due to delays, I need to pump more times), I use my Medela pump wipes.
Make friends with a flight attendant and let them know how they can be helpful, e.g., fill your ziplock bags with a steady supply of ice.
Pack a lot of gallon ziplock bags. I packed over a dozen gallon ziplock bags for my first trip. It wasn’t nearly enough. I recommend packing half a package of gallon size and half a package of quart sized with the zipper top. Asking for ice from airport vendors, flight attendants, storing a used pump I’ll wash later, everything uses a fresh bag.
Stockpile frozen milk before your trip. I estimated that my baby consumes 40-50 oz per day, and I had nearly enough for a one week trip. It turned out that he consumed less milk than expected, and there was still some frozen milk in the freezer when I got home.
What happens if I need to be away from my hotel or a fridge for more than 3-4 hours? I pack my manual pump in my purse for post-conference social outings, and go to the bathroom and pump and dump just enough to take a little pressure off the top, and pump as soon as I get back to my hotel.
Once on the plane, you have several options as to where to pump. Some people pump in the bathrooms, but I prefer getting a window seat and pumping under a tulip style nursing top, which provides a similar amount of privacy to a nursing cover, but is much more maneuverable.
Liquid or gel hand sanitizer counts as a liquid for security purposes. My strategy is to rely on a combination of Medela pump wipes (FSA eligible) and hand sanitizer wipes. Your own comfort level with pumping at your seat may differ from mine, but I used hand sanitizer wipes on my hands (and arm rests, etc.) and another to wipe down the tray table for my pumping items. All cleaning after those 2 wipes were with the alcohol free pump wipes.
Where can a mother pump around this airport / conference center / anywhere?
Many airports have mother’s rooms, family bathrooms, nursery rooms, (see list and list) or Mamava pods. Personally, I didn’t want to be in a rush to finish pumping or washing parts while boarding for my flight gets announced, even though I’m very grateful they exist and would use them when there’s a flight delay.
The ANA checkin agent thoughtfully warned me that Tokyo airport security won’t allow milk as a carry-on liquid above the volume limits on the way back. Luckily, I was already planning to check it in a Milk Stork box, and cool my last batch in an ice bath before sealing the box. Milk Stork has compiled this helpful list of links to the airport security policy of different countries. The Points Guy blog compiled a helpful list of airline policies on whether a medical device (breast pump) qualifies as an additional carry on.
On my phone, I have installed these 2 apps for locating mother’s rooms: Pumpspotting and Mamava. Your luck with either of them will depend on the country you’re in. In Japan, for instance, nearly every shopping mall and hotel lobby seemed to have a “nursery” room which fit the bill, but almost none are on the apps. North America is better represented on the apps.
As a first resort, however, check with the conference organizers about a mother’s room. Developer Week and dotJS have both done a phenomenal job in making a mother’s room available. In one case, when I asked, the organizers learned that the venue already had a fully equipped mother’s room on site. In another case, the organizers worked with the venue to create a lockable private room with a refrigerator.
Don’t be afraid of being the first person to request a mothers’ room of a conference organizer. You get zero percent of the things you don’t ask for, and worst case scenario, if there isn’t one, you may need to take a trip back to your hotel room for a mid-day pump session.
Temperature management: is my cooler or refrigerator cold enough?
My general approach to temperature management, be it hotel room refrigerators, my cooler backpack or my mini cooler bag, is trust but verify. I bought 2 little thermometers, and on the road, I had one in the small bag, and one in the large bag but outside the small bag. This allowed me to be sure that my milk is cold enough no matter where I was.
The main igloo compartment stabilized at 13C and the internal bag stabilized at 8C with 2 long lasting gel ice packs. When I asked for additional ice from the flight attendants, it stabilized at 10C in the main compartment and 3C in the internal bag. After a while, I got an ice refresh and the internal compartment stabilized at 1C.
To prevent newly pumped warm milk from warming up the cooler, I used an external ziplock ice bath to rapid chill the milk bag before storing it in the cooler. For this reason, I preferred the stability of the Kiinde twist top bags and not being afraid of bursting a ziplock seal.
Some hotel room mini fridges are cold enough and others aren’t. Same with large refrigerators. Just like with cooler backpacks, my general advice is trust but verify. With the two little thermometers: I took the one outside the internal insulated pouch and put it in the fridge to measure the refrigerator temperature before unpacking the cooler backpack.
At an Extended Stay Austin, I had to switch rooms to get a cold enough fridge. In the first room, the full sized refrigerator stabilized at 8C at its max, and couldn’t get colder, and the front desk people were happy to switch me to another room with a colder fridge, which was cold enough.
My fridge in the Tokyo hotel stabilized at 8-9C when I put milk bags in, but can get down to 4C when it’s not trying to cool warm milk. So I had the hotel store my milk in their fridge with my igloo cooler backpack. 1 thermometer in hotel fridge, one in backpack, so I can confirm their fridge is cold enough at 3-4C.
My fridge in Paris was an old and weak little fridge that can get to 10C in ideal conditions, so I kept my milk at 4C in that fridge with a twice daily addition of ziplock bags full of ice provided by the hotel.
Lastly, some rooms have their power modulated by the key card in a slot by the door, and the refrigerator turns off when you’re not there. Don’t feel bad about using a business card to keep the power on so the refrigerator can stay on.
Milk Stork vs. OrderBoxesNow
Milk Stork came highly recommended by parents in our Parent Chat channel, as used by their spouses at other companies and there’s currently internal discussion about potentially offering it as a benefit in the future.
Since my baby is very large (99th percentile), he consumes 40 – 50 oz per day (1200 – 1500 mL per day). That means Milk Stork’s large 100 oz box is 2 – 2.5 days supply for my baby, whereas that’s close to a one week supply for a regular sized baby of a similar age. So I decided to try Milk Stork kits for some trips and compare the experience with buying replacement engines and/or boxes myself for other trips in order to compare the experience.
And oh what a difference. I don’t have enough words for Milk Stork customer service. Milk Stork isn’t just a box with a refrigeration engine. You give them your trip information and they ship an entire kit to your hotel, which includes: the box and the refrigeration engine, milk storage bags, tamper evident seals, etc. Although you have to arrange the FedEx pickup yourself (and coordinate with your hotel front desk), they will pay for the freight and take care of the rest. When there was a hiccup with my FedEx pickup, and when I got a surprise FedEx invoice for import taxes on my milk, Milk Stork customer support got on the phone with FedEx to reverse the charges, saving me the headache of multiple phone calls.
It is incredibly easy to make minor mistakes when buying replacement engines instead. On one trip, I brought my empty Milk Stork boxes to re-use and shipped replacement engines to the hotel. Not only did I have a slight panic because the hotel at first thought they didn’t have my replacement engines, it also turned out that I had ordered the wrong size. After a last minute trip to Home Depot for some supplies (zip ties, tape, bubble wrap), I was able to disassemble the two Milk Stork coolers into panels and MacGyver them together into a functional franken-cooler that was the correct size for the refrigeration engine that I used for multiple trips. Since this required pulling an all-nighter due to regular pumping interruptions, this is not for the faint of heart.
Reasons you might consider buying the boxes instead of a kit:
You need a bigger volume box (e.g., shipping over 120 oz)
You are comfortable re-using the boxes and are buying replacement refrigeration engines
You’re comfortable with some last minute MacGyvering in case of errors
You (and baby’s caretaker) really prefer Kiinde bags for feeding (our family does) and you need a larger box to fit more bags in
I would like to give a shout-out to the other parents in our Parents ERG (employee resource group). I especially want to thank Renee, my parent buddy in our returning-parent buddy system, for her contributions to the research, and Marina from our People Team for setting up that buddy system and also for helping research policy, from company internal to FSA related questions. Jill for recommending the Baby Buddha pump, Dane for recommending Milk Stork, Amy for keeping not just one but two nice mother’s rooms in the SF office to keep up with our demand, and Nicole who always lets me borrow ice packs when I forget mine at home. And thank you Rebecca and all the other parents who trod down this path before me. Every time more parents take on the challenges, we collectively increase the demand for the products and services that makes the challenges easier, and maybe a version of this post in 2025 will be a piece of cake. (See career opportunities at Cloudflare≫ )
We have come such a long way from the days of shipping frozen breastmilk packed with dry ice. I am so grateful that I was not out trying to source dry ice in a country where I don’t speak the language.
Last but not least, I want to thank my husband and my mother in law whose backs and wrists strain under the weight of our very large baby since I have been recovering from a wrist injury.
I count myself lucky to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants, that is, all the parents who have gone on this adventure before me who have shared their wisdom.
It was a scorching Monday on July 22 as temperatures soared above 37°C (99°F) in Austin, TX, the live music capital of the world. Only hours earlier, the last crowds dispersed from the historic East 6th Street entertainment district. A few blocks away, Cloudflarians were starting to make their way to the office. Little did those early arrivers know that they would soon be unknowingly participating in a Cloudflare time honored tradition of dogfooding new services before releasing them to the wild.
6th East Street, Austin Texas
Dogfooding is when an organization uses its own products. In this case, we dogfed our newest cloud service, Magic Transit, which both protects and accelerates our customers’ entire network infrastructure—not just their web properties or TCP/UDP applications. With Magic Transit, Cloudflare announces your IP prefixes via BGP, attracts (routes) your traffic to our global network edge, blocks bad packets, and delivers good packets to your data centers via Anycast GRE.
We decided to use Austin’s network because we wanted to test the new service on a live network with real traffic from real people and apps. With the target identified, we began onboarding the Austin office in an always-on routing topology.
In an always-on routing mode, Cloudflare data centers constantly advertise Austin’s prefix, resulting in faster, almost immediate mitigation. As opposed to traditional on-demand scrubbing center solutions with limited networks, Cloudflare operates within 100 milliseconds of 99% of the Internet-connected population in the developed world. For our customers, this means that always-on DDoS mitigation doesn’t sacrifice performance due to suboptimal routing. On the contrary, Magic Transit can actually improve your performance due to our network’s reach.
Cloudflare’s Global Network
Now that we’ve completed onboarding Austin to Magic Transit, all we needed was a motivated attacker to launch a DDoS attack. Luckily, we found more than a few willing volunteers on our Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team to execute the attack. While the teams were still assembling in multiple locations around the world, our SRE volunteer started firing packets at our target from an undisclosed location.
Without Magic Transit, the Austin office would’ve been hit directly with the packet flood. Two things could have happened in this case (not mutually exclusive):
Austin’s on-premise equipment (routers, firewalls, servers, etc.) would have been overwhelmed and failed
Austin’s service providers would have dropped packets that exceeded its bandwidth allowance
Both cases would result in a very bad day for everyone.
Cloudflare DDoS Mitigation
Instead, when our SRE attacker launched the flood the packets were automatically routed via BGP to Cloudflare’s network. The packets reached the closest data center via Anycast and encountered multiple defenses in the form of XDP, eBPF and iptables. Those defenses are populated with pre-configured static firewall rules as well as dynamic rules generated by our DDoS mitigation systems.
Static rules can vary from straightforward IP blocking and rate-limiting to more sophisticated expressions that match against specific packet attributes. Dynamic rules, on the other hand, are generated automatically in real-time. To play fair with our attacker, we didn’t pre-configure any special rules against the attack. We wanted to give our attacker a fair opportunity to take Austin down. Although due to our multi-layered protection approach, the odds were never actually in their favor.
Generating Dynamic Rules
As part of our multi-layered protection approach, Dynamic Rules are generated on-the-fly by analyzing the packets that route through our network. While the packets are being routed, flow data is asynchronously sampled, collected, and analyzed by two main detection systems. The first is called Gatebot and runs across the entire Cloudflare network; the second is our newly deployed DoSD (denial of service daemon) which operates locally within each data center. DoSD is an exciting improvement that we’ve just recently rolled out and we look forward to writing more about its technical details here soon. DoSD samples at a much faster rate (1/100 packets) versus Gatebot which samples at a lower rate (~1/8000 packets), allowing it to detect even more attacks and block them faster.
The asynchronous attack detection lifecycle is represented as the dotted lines in the diagram below. Attacks are detected out of path to assure that we don’t add any latency, and mitigation rules are pushed in line and removed as needed.
Multiple packet attributes and correlations are taken into consideration during analysis and detection. Gatebot and DoSD search for both new network anomalies and already known attacks. Once an attack is detected, rules are automatically generated, propagated, and applied in the optimal location within 10 seconds or less. Just to give you an idea of the scale, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dynamic rules that are applied and removed every second across the entire Cloudflare network.
One of the beauties of Gatebot and DoSD is that they don’t require a traffic learning period. Once a customer is onboarded, they’re protected immediately. They don’t need to sample traffic for weeks before kicking in. While we can always apply specific firewall rules if requested by the customer, no manual configuration is required by the customer or our teams. It just works.
What this mitigation process looks like in practice
Let’s look at what happened in Austin when one of our SREs tried to DDoS Austin and failed. During one of the first attempts, before DoSD had rolled out globally, a degradation in audio and video quality was noticed for Austin employees on video calls for a few seconds before Gatebot kicked in. However, as soon as Gatebot kicked in, the quality was immediately restored. If we hadn’t had Magic Transit in-line, the degradation of service would’ve worsened until the point of full denial of service. Austin would have been offline and our Austin colleagues wouldn’t have had a very productive day.
On a subsequent attack attempt which took place after DoSD was deployed, our SRE launched a SYN flood on Austin. The attack targeted multiple IP addresses in Austin’s prefix and peaked just above 250,000 packets per second. DoSD detected the attack and blocked it in approximately 3 seconds. DoSD’s quick response resulted in no degradation of service for the Austin team.
What We Learned
Dogfooding Magic Transit served as a valuable experiment for us with lots of lessons learned both from the engineering and procedural aspects. From the engineering aspect, we fine-tuned our mitigations and optimized routings. From the procedural aspects, we drilled members of multiple teams including the Security Operations Center and Solution Engineering teams to help refine our run-books. By doing so, we reduced the onboarding duration to hours instead of days in order to assure a quick and smooth onboarding experience for our customers.
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Today is the 31st Anniversary of National Coming Out Day. I wanted to highlight the importance of this day, share coming out resources, and publish some stories of what it’s like to come out in the workplace.
About National Coming Out Day
Thirty-one years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10.
Coming out – whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer – STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.
Each year on October 11th, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.
Last National Coming Out Day, I shared some stories from Proudflare members in this blog post. This year, I wanted to shift our focus to the experience and challenges of coming out in the workplace. I wanted to share what it was like for some of us to come out at Cloudflare, at our first companies, and point out some of the stresses, challenges, and risks involved.
Check out these five examples below and share your own in the comments section and/or to the people around you if you’d like!
“Coming out twice” from Lily – Cloudflare Austin
While my first experience of coming out professionally was at my previous company, I thought I’d share some of the differences between my experiences at Cloudflare and this other company.
Reflecting retrospectively, coming out was so immensely liberating. I’ve never been happier, but at the time I was a mess. LGBTQIA+ people still have little to no legal protection, and having been initially largely rejected by my parents and several of my friends after coming out to them, I felt like I was at sea, floating without a raft. This feeling of unease was compounded by my particular coming out being a two part series: I wasn’t only coming out as transgender, but now also as a lesbian.
Eventually, after the physical changes became too noticeable to ignore (around 7 months ago), I worked up the courage to come out at work. The company I was working for was awful in many ways; bad culture, horrible project manager, and rampant nepotism. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised that what I told them was almost immediately accepted. Surely this was finally a win for me? However, that initial optimism didn’t last. As time went on, it became clear that saying you accept it and actually internalizing it are completely different. I started being questioned about needed medical appointments, and I wasn’t really being treated any different than before. I still have no idea if it played into the reason they fired me for “performance” despite never bringing it up before.
As I started applying for new jobs, one thing was always on my mind: will this job be different? Thankfully the answer was yes; my experience at Cloudflare has been completely different. Through the entire hiring process, I never once had to out myself. Finally when I had to come out to use my legal name on the offer letter, Cloudflare handled it with such grace. One such example was that they went so far as to put my preferred name in quotes next to my legal one on the document. These little nuggets of kindness are visible all over the company – you can tell people are accepting and genuinely care. However, the biggest difference was that Cloudflare supports and celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community but doesn’t emphasize it. If you don’t want it to be part of your identity it doesn’t have to be. Looking to the future I hope I can just be a woman that loves women, not a trans-woman that loves women, and I think Cloudflare will be supportive of that.
A story from Mark – Cloudflare London
My coming out story? It involves an awful lot of tears in a hotel room in Peru, about three and a half thousand miles away from anyone I knew.
That probably sounds more dramatic than the reality. I’d been visiting some friends in Minnesota and I was due to head to Peru to hike the Machu Picchu trail, but a missed flight connection saw me stranded in Atlanta overnight.
A couple of months earlier, I’d kind of came out to myself. This was less a case of admitting my sexuality, but more finally learning exactly what it is. I’d only just turned 40 and, months later, I was still trying to come to terms with what it all meant; reappraising your sexuality in your 40s is not a journey for the faint of heart! I hadn’t shared it with anyone yet, but while sitting in a thuddingly dull hotel room in Atlanta, it just felt like time. So I penned my coming out letter.
The next day I boarded a plane, posted my letter to Facebook, turned off my phone, and then experienced what was, without question, The. Longest. Flight. Of. My. Life. This was followed, perhaps unsurprisingly, by the longest taxi ride of my life.
Eventually, after an eternity or two had passed, I reached my hotel room, connected to the hotel wifi and read through the messages that had accumulated over the past 8 hours or so. Messages from my friends, and family, and even my Mum. The love and support I got from all of them just about broke me. I practically dissolved in a puddle of tears as I read through everything. Decades of pent up confusion and pain washed away in those tears.
I’ll never forget the sense of acceptance I felt after all that.
As for coming out at work, well, let’s see how it goes: Hi, I’m Mark, and I’m asexual.
A story from Jacob – Cloudflare San Francisco
I started my career working in consulting in a conservative environment where I was afraid that coming out would cause me to be taken less seriously by my male coworkers. I remember casually mentioning my partner at the time to a couple of close coworkers to gauge their response. They surprised me and turned out to be very accepting and insisted that I bring him to our Holiday Party later that year. That event was the first time I came out to my entire office and I remember feeling very nervous before stepping into the room.
My anxiety was soon quelled with a warm welcome from my office leadership and from then on I didn’t feel like I was dancing around the elephant in the room. After this experience being out at work is not something I think greatly about, I have been very fortunate to work in accepting environments including at Cloudflare!
A story from Malavika – Cloudflare London
Nearly a decade has passed since I first came out in a professional setting, when I first started working at a global investment bank in Manhattan. The financial services industry was, and continues to be, known for its machismo, and at the time, gay marriage was still illegal in the United States. Despite being out in my personal life, the thought of being out at work terrified me. I already felt so profoundly different from my coworkers as a woman and a person of colour, and thus I feared that my LGBTQIA+ identity would further reduce my chances of career advancement. I had no professional role models to signal that is was okay to be LGBTQIA+ in my career.
Soon after starting this job, a close friend and university classmate invited me to a dinner for LGBTQIA+ young professionals in financial services and management consulting. I had never attended an event targeted at LGBTQIA+ professionals, let alone met an out LGBTQIA+ individual working outside of the arts, academia or nonprofit sectors. Looking around the dining room, I felt as though I had spotted a unicorn: a handful of out senior leaders at top investment banks and consulting firms sat among nearly 40 ambitious young professionals, sharing their coming out stories and providing invaluable career advice. Before this event, I would have never believed that there were so many people “like me” within the industry, and most certainly not in executive positions. For the first time, I felt a strong sense of belonging, as I finally had LGBTQIA+ role models to look up to professionally, and I no longer felt afraid of being open about my sexuality professionally.
After this event, I felt inspired and energised. Over the subsequent weeks, my authentic self began to show. My confidence and enthusiasm at work dramatically increased. I was able to build trust with my colleagues more easily, and my managers lauded me for my ability to incorporate constructive feedback quickly.
As I reflect on my career trajectory, I have not succeeded in spite of my sexuality, but rather, because of being out as a bisexual woman. Over the course of my career, I have developed strong professional relationships with senior LGBTQIA+ mentors, held leadership positions in a variety of diversity networks and organisations, and attended a number of inspiring conferences and events. Without the anxiety of having to hide an important part of my identity, I am able to be the confident, intelligent woman I truly am. And that is precisely why I am actively involved in Proudflare, Cloudflare’s employee resource group for LGBTQIA+ individuals. I strongly believe that by creating an inclusive workplace – for anyone who feels different or out of place – all employees will have the support and confidence to shine in their professional and personal lives.
A story from Chase – Cloudflare San Francisco
I really discovered my sexuality in college. Growing up, there weren’t many queer people in my life. I always had a loving family that would presumably accept me for who I was, but the lack of any queer role models in my life made me think that I was straight for quite some time. I just didn’t know what being gay was.
I always had a best friend – someone that I would end up spending all my time with. This friend wouldn’t always be the same person, but inevitably I would latch on one person and focus most of my emotional energy on our friendship. In college this friend was Daniel. We met while pledging a business fraternity our freshman year and quickly became close friends. Daniel made me feel different. I thought about him when I wasn’t with him, I wanted to be with him all the time, and most of all I would get jealous when he would date women. He saw right through me and eventually got me to open up about being gay. Our long emotional text conversation ended with me asking if he had anything he wanted to share with me (fingers crossed). His answer – “I don’t know why everyone assumes I’m gay, I’m not.” Heart = Broken.
Fast forward 6 months and we decide to live together our Junior year. I slowly started becoming more comfortable with my sexuality and began coming out. I started with my close friends, then my brother, then slightly less close friends, but kept getting hung up on my parents. Luckily, Daniel made that easier. That text from Daniel about not being gay ended up being not as set in stone as I thought. We started secretly dating for almost a year and I was the happiest I have ever been. The thrills of a secret relationship can only last so long and eventually we knew we needed to tell the world. We came out to our parents together, as a couple. We were there for each other for the good conversations, the tough conversations, the “Facebook Official” post, and coming out at our first corporate jobs (A never ending cycle). We were so fortunate to both work at warm, welcoming companies when we came out and continue to work at such companies today.
Coming out wasn’t easy but knowing I didn’t have to do it alone made it a whole heck of a lot easier. Happy four-year anniversary, Dan.
Resources for living openly
To find resources about living openly, visit the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Center. I hope you’ll be true to yourselves and always be loud and proud.
To read more about Proudflare and why Cloudflare cares about inclusion in the workplace, read Proudflare’s first pride blog post.
When I first began interviewing with Cloudflare in the Spring of 2019, I came across a Cloudflare blog post announcing Proudflare, the company’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG). The post gave me a clear sense of the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. I could tell this was a place that values and celebrates diversity, which really appealed to me as I progressed through the interview process with Cloudflare, and ultimately accepted the role.
Fast forward to my Cloudflare new hire orientation, two weeks of training and introductions at our San Francisco HQ. We learned about the various ERGs at Cloudflare including one for Latinx employees. While I had a strong desire to be part of a Latinx ERG, it was clear that the group was actually in need of someone to lead the effort and rally the troops. At Cloudflare, we have offices across the country and around the world. I wasn’t really sure how to launch an ERG that would be global in scope. After meeting with leads from other Cloudflare ERGs, understanding the landscape, and attending an external workshop, everything started to come together.
In early August, we officially gave ourselves the name Latinflare. In mid-September, we agreed on our amazing logo (which by the way, includes the primary colors of flags from across Latin America set over a lava lamp background). Most importantly, we have agreed, as a group, that our priorities are:
to offer a space where Latinx employees and their allies can gather and network,
to create a pipeline of future employees of diverse backgrounds, and
to be an integral part of the communities where we work.
What’s Next for Latinflare
We are gearing up for Hispanic Heritage Month. These efforts include launching Latinflare, holding our inaugural event on October 16th, and continuing to plan more events and activities moving forward. Great things are starting to happen!
How you can support
If you are not a Cloudflare employee but are interested in celebrating Hispanic Heritage, I urge you to find events and activities that are taking place near you. And while our inaugural Latinflare event will be an employee-only event, the group has high hopes to host quarterly meet-ups that will eventually give us the opportunity to network with ERGs and organizations outside of Cloudflare. In addition, you will hear from us again towards the end of the year, when we plan to share some “tradiciones navideñas” with the rest of the Cloudflare family.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to all! Latinflare stickers will be available in most offices starting this week. If you are not a Cloudflare employee, but are located near a Cloudflare office, please stop by the front desk at your location and ask for one. Stickers for everyone!
Cloudflare launched on September 27, 2010. Many great startups pivot over time. We have not. We had a plan and have been purposeful in executing it since our earliest days. While we are still in its early innings, that plan remains clear: we are helping to build a better Internet. Understanding the path we’ve taken to date will help you understand how we plan to operate going forward, and to determine whether Cloudflare is the right investment for you.
Cloudflare was formed to take advantage of a paradigm shift: the world was moving from on-premise hardware and software that you buy to services in the cloud that you rent. Paradigm shifts in technology always create significant opportunities, and we built Cloudflare to take advantage of the opportunities that arose as the world shifted to the cloud.
As we watched packaged software turn into SaaS applications, and physical servers migrate to instances in the public cloud, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the same happened to network appliances. Firewalls, network optimizers, load balancers, and the myriad of other hardware appliances that previously provided security, performance, and reliability would inevitably turn into cloud services.
Network Control as a Service
We built Cloudflare to provide the suite of cloud services we anticipated customers would demand as they looked to replace their on-premise, hardware-based network appliances. That was an audacious goal and it shaped both business model and our technical architecture in ways that we believe differentiate us and provide us with a significant competitive advantage.
For example, since we were competing with hardware manufacturers, usage-based billing never made sense for our core products. In the on-premise hardware world, when you suffered more cyber attacks you didn’t pay your firewall vendor more, and when you suffered fewer you didn’t pay them less. If we were going to build a firewall-as-a-service — or any other network appliance replacement — we needed predictable, subscription-based pricing that reflected how companies wished they could pay for their hardware.
We also knew that more data gave us an advantage no hardware appliance could match. Like an Internet-wide immune system, we could learn from all the bits of traffic that flowed through our network. We could learn not only about bad actors and how to stop their attacks, but also about good actors and how to optimize their online experiences. Since more data helped us build better products for all our customers, we never wanted to do anything to discourage any potential customer from routing any amount of traffic, large or small, through our network.
Efficiency is in Our DNA
This core tenet of serving the entire Internet forced us to obsess over costs. Efficiency is in the DNA of Cloudflare because it had to be. Being entrusted with investors’ capital is a privilege and we make investments in our business always with a mind toward being good stewards of that capital. Moreover, while it was tempting to just pass along costs like bandwidth to our customers, we knew if we were going to provide a compelling value proposition against hardware we needed to be ruthlessly efficient.
To achieve the level of efficiency needed to compete with hardware appliances required us to invent a new type of platform. That platform needed to be built on commodity hardware. It needed to be architected so any server in any city that made up Cloudflare’s network could run every one of our services. It also needed the flexibility to move traffic around to serve our highest paying customers from the most performant locations while serving customers who paid us less, or even nothing at all, from wherever there was excess capacity.
We built Cloudflare’s platform from the ground up with a full understanding of our audacious plan: to literally help build a better Internet. We didn’t run separate networks to provide our different products. We didn’t use expensive, proprietary hardware. We didn’t start with one product and then attempt to Frankenstein on others over time. Our platform was purpose-built to efficiently deliver security, performance, and reliability to customers of every size from day one. And our platform has allowed us a level of efficiency to achieve the gross margins of leading hardware appliance vendors — 77% in the first half of this year — but with the greater predictability of a SaaS business model.
Our Platform Approach
For some it may be challenging to categorize our business because our platform includes an incredibly diverse set of capabilities. We provide security products like firewall and access management, performance products like intelligent routing, and reliability products like vendor-neutral load balancing — all as a service, without customers needing to install hardware or change their code.
We also have functions that play supporting roles to the products we sell. For example, we built one of the fastest, most reliable content delivery networks not because we were targeting the CDN market, but because we knew caching was a necessary function in order to efficiently deliver our core products. We built the world’s fastest authoritative domain name services, not to sell DNS, but to deliver service levels we knew our customers needed.
We provide features like CDN and DNS for free to all of our customers. We will continue to implement this strategy; onboarding more customers onto our platform and capturing value from our highly differentiated products that, once using any part of Cloudflare’s platform, are only a click away.
Potential investors who are new to Cloudflare sometimes ask questions like: “What will you do if CDN bandwidth prices continue to fall?” We remind them we’ve given CDN away for free since Cloudflare launched in 2010, not because we were trying to disrupt the CDN space, but because the much more valuable products we provide our customers need a highly optimized global caching network to perform up to our standards.
We Create More Value Than We Capture
But there is another reason for taking the approach that we do. Cloudflare has always put our customers first and prioritized creating much more value than we capture. We work to get customers onto our platform because, once on board, we know we will be able to solve so many of their problems over time. We aim to make the combined value of the products on our platform significantly more than customers can get from any combination of point solutions.
In the past, to deliver Internet security, performance, and reliability not only required an organization to buy rooms full of expensive network appliances but also to hire IT teams to manage them. While there were some companies that could afford this, the cost was prohibitive for many. Instead of serving only those that could have paid the most, we intentionally made the decision to start by focusing on organizations and individual developers that had previously been underserved. We made our products not only affordable, but easy to use.
And we didn’t stop there. We have continued to improve with every bit of traffic we have seen. In doing so, we have moved up market to the point that, today, approximately 10 percent of the Fortune 1,000 are paying Cloudflare customers. We think one of the best ways to measure the value we deliver is our Net Promoter Score of 68 among paying customers, rivaling some of the best consumer brands in the world. Not only are we obsessed with our customers, but our customers are obsessed with us.
We Are Focused on Consistent Growth Over the Long Term
One of the characteristics of the world’s greatest SaaS companies is that they typically enter a market in some small way and then use that toehold to expand their relationship and move up market. We learned from the great SaaS companies that came before us. This strategy has resulted in consistent, long-term — rather than explosive — growth. Contrast this with companies that only build a better mousetrap. They initially experience heady growth shifting defined spend from one product to another, but the challenge they then face is existential: what’s their second, third, and fourth act? Cloudflare doesn’t have this problem.
We will continue to invest in R&D so long as it demonstrates a significant return. Our investment philosophy is oriented around making many small, inexpensive bets — quickly killing the ones that don’t work, and increasing investment in the ones that do. While we will consider M&A when opportunities present themselves, our bias is toward internal development tightly integrated into our efficient platform. We aim to build a massive business — slowly and consistently.
Finally, there are two of us signing this letter today, but three people started Cloudflare. Lee Holloway is our third co-founder and the genius who architected our platform and recruited and led our early technical team. Tragically, Lee stepped down from Cloudflare in 2015, suffering the debilitating effects of Frontotemporal Dementia, a rare neurological disease.
As we began the confidential process to go public, one of the early decisions was to pick the code name for our IPO. We chose “Project Holloway” to honor Lee’s contribution. More importantly, on a daily basis, the technical decisions Lee made, and the engineering team he built, are fundamental to the business we have become.
It has indeed been an incredible journey to have built Cloudflare into what it is today. We are grateful to our customers for their business and trust, to our team members for their dedication to our mission, and to our shareholders, and potential shareholders, for their support and encouragement.
And we’re just getting started.
Matthew Prince Michelle Zatlyn Co-founder & CEO Co-founder & COO
I’ve recently joined Cloudflare as Head of Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ). This is an important time for the company as we continue to grow our presence locally to address the demand in A/NZ, recruit local talent, and build on the successes we’ve had in our other offices around the globe. In this new role, I’m eager to grow our brand recognition in A/NZ and optimise our reach to customers by building up my team and channel presence.
A little about me
I’m a Melburnian born and bred (most livable city in the world!) with more than 20 years of experience in our market. From guiding strategy and architecture of the region’s largest resources company, BHP, to building and running teams and channels, and helping customers solve the technical challenges of their time, I have been in, or led, businesses in the A/NZ Enterprise market, with a focus on network and security for the last six years.
I joined Cloudflare because I strongly believe in its mission to help build a better Internet, and believe this mission, paired with its massive global network, will enable the company to continue to deliver incredibly innovative solutions to customers of all segments.
Four years ago, I was lucky to build and lead the VMware Network & Security business, working with some of Cloudflare’s biggest A/NZ customers. I was confronted with the full extent of the security challenges that A/NZ businesses face. I recognized that there must be a better way to help customers secure their local and multi-cloud environments. That’s how I found Cloudflare. With Cloudflare’s Global Cloud Platform, businesses have an integrated solution that offers the best in security, performance and reliability.
Second, something that’s personally important for me as the son of Italian migrants, and now a dad of two gorgeous daughters, is that Cloudflare is serious about culture and diversity. When I was considering joining Cloudflare, I watched videos from the Internet Summit, an annual event that Cloudflare hosts in its San Francisco office. One thing that really stood out to me was that the speakers came from so many different backgrounds.
I’m extremely passionate about encouraging those from all walks of life to pursue opportunities in business and tech, so seeing the diversity of people giving insightful talks made me realise that this was a company I wanted to work for, and hopefully perhaps my girls as well (no pressure).
I strongly believe that Cloudflare’s mission, paired with its massive global network, will enable customers of all sizes in segments in Australia and New Zealand to leverage Cloudflare’s security, performance and reliability solutions.
Making security and speed, which are necessary for any strong business, available to anyone with an Internet property is truly a noble goal. That’s another one of the reasons I’m most excited to work at Cloudflare.
Australians and Kiwis alike have always been great innovators and users of technology. However, being so physically isolated (Perth is the most isolated city in the world and A/NZ are far from pretty much everywhere else in the world) has limited our ability to have the diversity of choice and competition. Our isolation from said choice and competition fueled innovation, but at the price of complexity, cost, and ease. This makes having local servers absolutely vital for good performance. With Cloudflare’s expansive network, 98 percent of the Internet-connected developed world is located within 100 milliseconds of our network. In fact, Cloudflare already has data centers in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney, ensuring that customers in A/NZ have access to a secure, fast, and reliable Internet.
Our opportunities in Australia, New Zealand and beyond…
I’m truly looking forward to helping Cloudflare grow its reach over the next five years. If you are a business in Australia and New Zealand and have a cyber-security, performance or reliability need, get in touch with us (1300 748 959). We’d love to explore how we can help.
If you’re interested in exploring careers at Cloudflare, we are hiring globally. Our team in Australia is small today, about a dozen, and we are growing quickly. We have open roles in Solutions Engineering and Business Development Representatives. Check out our careers page to learn more, or send me a note.
Eu fui o 24º funcionário da Cloudflare e o primeiro a trabalhar fora de São Francisco. A trabalhar num escritorio improvisado em minha casa, e escrevi um pedaço grande do software da Cloudflare antes de ter contratato uma equipa em Londres. Hoje, Cloudflare London, a nossa a sede da EMEA a região da Europa, Médio Oriente e África tem mais de 200 pessoas a trabalhar no edifício histórico County Hall há frente do Parlamento Britânico. O meu escritório improvisado é agora história antiga.
Cloudflare não parou em Londres. Temos pessoas em Munique, Cingapura, Pequim, Austin, Texas, Chicago e Champaign, Illinois, Nova York, Washington,DC, São José, California, Miami, Florida, Sydney, Austrália e também em Sao Francisco e Londres. Hoje estamos a anunciar o estabelecimento de um novo escritório em Lisboa, Portugal. Como parte da abertura do escritório este Verão irei me deslocar para Lisboa juntamente com um pequeno número de pessoal técnico de outros escritórios da Cloudflare.
Estamos a recrutar em Lisboa neste momento. Pode visitar este link para ver todas as oportunidades actuais. Estamos há procura de candidatos para preencher os cargos de Engenheiro, Segurança, Produto, Produto de Estratégia, Investigação Tecnológica e Atendimento ao Cliente.
Se está interessado num cargo que não está actualmente listado na nossa página de carreiras profissionais, também poderá enviar-nos um email para a nossa equipa de recruitamento pelo [email protected] para expressar o seu interesse.
A minha primeira ideia realista de Lisboa formou-se há 30 anos atrás com a publicação de 1989 do John Le Carré, The Russia House (A casa da Rússia). Tão real, claro, como qualquer Le Carré’s visão do mundo:
[…] dez anos atrás, por um capricho qualquer, Barley Blair, tido herdado uns quantos milhares por uma tia distante, comprou para si um pé de terra mais modesto em Lisboa, onde costumava ter descansos regulares com o peso de uma alma multilateral. Poderia ter sido Cornwall, poderia ter sido a Provença ou mesmo até Timbuktu. Contudo, Lisboa por um acidente agarrou-o […]
A escolha da Clouflare por Lisboa, não aconteceu por um acaso, mas sim por uma pesquisa cuidadosa de uma nova cidade continental Europeia para localizar um escritório. Eu fui convidado novamente para ir a Lisboa em 2014 para ser um dos oradores na Sapo Codebits e fiquei impressionado com o tamanho e a variedade de talento técnico presente no evento. Subsequentemente, visitámos 45 cidades por 29 países, reduzindo a uma lista final de três.
A combinação de um elevado e crescente ecossistema de tecnologia existente em Lisboa, uma política de imigração atraente,estabilidade política, alto padrão de vida, assim como todos os factores logísticos como o fuso horário (o mesmo que na Grã-Bretanha) e os voos directos para São Francisco fizeram com que fosse o vencedor evidente.
Eu começei a aprender Português há três meses…e estou desejoso para descobrir este país e a cultura, e criar um novo escritório para a Cloudflare.
Encontrámos um ecossistema tecnológico local próspero, apoiado tanto pelo governo como por uma miríade de startups empolgantes, e esperamos colaborar com eles para continuar a elevar o perfil de Lisboa.
I was the 24th employee of Cloudflare and the first outside of San Francisco. Working out of my spare bedroom, I wrote a chunk of Cloudflare’s software before starting to recruit a team in London. Today, Cloudflare London, our EMEA headquarters, has more than 200 people working in the historic County Hall building opposite the Houses of Parliament. My spare bedroom is ancient history.
And Cloudflare didn’t stop at London. We now have people in Munich, Singapore, Beijing, Austin, TX, Chicago and Champaign, IL, New York, Washington, DC, San Jose, CA, Miami, FL, and Sydney, Australia, as well as San Francisco and London. And today we’re announcing the establishment of a new technical hub in Lisbon, Portugal. As part of that office opening I will be relocating to Lisbon this summer along with a small number of technical folks from other Cloudflare offices.
We’re recruiting in Lisbon starting today. Go here to see all the current opportunities. We’re looking for people to fill roles in Engineering, Security, Product, Product Strategy, Technology Research, and Customer Support.
My first real idea of Lisbon dates to 30 years ago with the 1989 publication of John Le Carré’s The Russia House. As real, of course, as any Le Carré view of the world:
[…] ten years ago on a whim Barley Blair, having inherited a stray couple of thousand from a remote aunt, bought himself a scruffy pied-a-terre in Lisbon, where he was accustomed to take periodic rests from the burden of his many-sided soul. It could have been Cornwall, it could have been Provence or Timbuktu. But Lisbon by an accident had got him […]
Cloudflare’s choice of Lisbon, however, came not by way of an accident but a careful search for a new continental European city in which to locate a technical office. I had been invited to Lisbon back in 2014 to speak at SAPO Codebits and been impressed by the size and range of technical talent present at the event. Subsequently, we looked at 45 cities across 29 countries, narrowing down to a final list of three.
Lisbon’s combination of a large and growing existing tech ecosystem, attractive immigration policy, political stability, high standard of living, as well as logistical factors like time zone (the same as the UK) and direct flights to San Francisco made it the clear winner.
Eu começei a aprender Português há três meses… and I’m looking forward to discovering a country and a culture, and building a new technical hub for Cloudflare. We have found a thriving local technology ecosystem, supported both by the government and a myriad of exciting startups, and we look forward to collaborating with them to continue to raise Lisbon’s profile.
Happy Pride from Proudflare, Cloudflare’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group. We wanted to share some stories from our members this month which highlight both the struggles behind the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and its successes. This first story is from Lesley.
The moment that crystalised the memory of that day…crystal blue afternoon, bright-coloured autumn leaves, borrowed tables, crockery and cutlery, flowers arranged by a cousin, cake baked by a neighbour, music mixed by a friend… our priest/rabbi a close gay friend with neither yarmulke nor collar. The venue, a backyard kitty-corner at the home my wife grew up in. Love and good wishes in abundance from a community that supports us and our union. And in the middle of all that, my wife… turning to me and smiling, grass stains on the bottom of her long cream wedding dress after abandoning her heels and dancing barefoot in the grass. As usual, a microphone in hand, bringing life and laughter to all with her charismatic quips.
Our first marriage was as legal as marrying two donkeys, with all the attached rights
This was the fall of 2002 and same-sex marriage was legal in 0 of the 50 United States.
It was a tough time economically. We had a front row seat to the historic internet boom and bust. My company filed chapter 11 bankruptcy and my customer’s customers were going out of business. I did not anticipate getting a job anytime soon. So after a lot of silver-tongued persuading, I convinced my wife to quit her job, rent out our home, buy a RV. We grabbed our two Australian shepherds and toured the US for a nine-month honeymoon. Forty-five states and 36,000 miles later, we still had some funds left over and I wanted to show Robin my other home, so we travelled to South Africa for 6 weeks. Just before we got on our flight back to the US, we heard news from our family that Gavin Newsom, the then mayor of San Francisco was going to declare same-sex marriage legal and begin issuing marriage licenses in San Francisco. The trip back to the Bay Area took 42 hours door-to-door and had a nine-hour time change. We got home, dropped off our bags and the very next morning, completely jet-lagged, went back into the city to stand in line to get our marriage license.
Our second marriage was a much smaller and more intimate affair
Held in an alcove in the beautiful San Francisco City Hall rotunda with its exquisite architectural design and a view of the grand staircase. It was attended by Robin’s parents and a couple of our close friends that could take the time at such short notice. Knowing that the time window was closing, we grabbed the opportunity to have our marriage recognised legally along with dozens of other jubilant gay couples.
Alas, a short time later, we received an annulment in the mail. We received that, along with an apology and a request that we donate the licensing fees to the city. We were disappointed, but felt our love was strong enough to carry us through and who needed a piece of paper anyway, right?!?
Our attitude changed significantly when we had our son. We had been trying for a while and what finally worked for us was to take my egg along with a sperm bank donation, and impregnate Robin. To this day, my mom says I’m the best delegator she knows. I delegated childbirth. I also delegated all my rights as Joey’s mother. Absent a marriage, in California, the birth mother has all the rights and responsibilities.
Robin had been in a relationship before me where she had planned and had a child with another woman. When they split up, Robin had no rights to see or have access to the child. She also had no obligation to support the child in any way, financial or other.
We wanted to make sure Joey never faced that predicament and without the option for marriage, took the next available avenue. I adopted Joey. Even though he is genetically my child, we had to go through a lengthy and costly procedure to adopt him. We had child protective services inspect our home and come for numerous visits to ensure I would be a “suitable” parent for my child. Eventually, I was granted adoption approval and we went to family court in Martinez where I came before a judge and officially adopted Joey as my son.
In the early summer of 2008, the California Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in California. We were the second state to make it legal after Massachusetts. The court found that barring same-sex couples from marriage violated California State’s Constitution.
Queue marriage number three…
In the period between the declaration and Prop 8 passing, Robin and I joined 18,000 gay couples that tied the knot.
At this point, we were pros at getting married and went with casual jeans and white cotton shirts, which was easier for everyone including our son who attended our wedding. This was the first marriage where our legal rights and responsibilities actually stuck. These rights were only valid in California however, so on any travel outside of our beautiful state our union would be considered illegitimate. From a tax perspective, it was a real adventure with every advisor having a different take on the way we should file our taxes. Federally our marriage was not recognized, but in California it was. This lead to a lot of confusion and added expenses every April.
Little did we know the backlash that our happy/gay marriages would cause. The religious, conservative right came back at us with Prop 8 for daring to expect equality.
From our perspective, there was no other way to view this than vengeful and born out of malice for gays. Why would these people care that we wanted to live together and have the protections of marriage? I saw this as a group of people wanting to impose their religion and view of what a marriage should be on us. We were on vacation in Hawaii when the election results were announced, sweet with Barack Obama being elected and so, so very bitter with Prop 8 passing.
Prop 8 provoked a lot of soul-searching for me. I was very angry and had a general distrust of people that I had never felt before. I would be in the supermarket line and wonder who there may or may not have voted against my marriage. It was deeply personal and hurtful. We had Mormon friends, who are for the most part wonderful and whose company we enjoyed. Knowing the extreme measures their community went to to ensure Prop 8 passed, cut me deeply. Catholics and conservatives who are both family and friends, went out of their way to harm me and my family and to make our lives more difficult because they believed we were sinners and not worthy of equality in the eyes of the law. Fortunately, our marriage was grandfathered in, so our rights in California were preserved.
The one ray of light was watching our allies stand up and come to our defense. In my life, I’ve pretty much always been part of the privileged class. I’m a white woman with a degree who grew up in an affluent home. I had never personally experienced discrimination or felt part of a marginalized minority. To have allies that stepped up and argued on our behalf brought tears to my eyes. We would not have the rights we have today without those allies. This was a significant lesson for me to learn. I will always stand up for the disenfranchised and make my voice heard to defend those who cannot defend themselves as others have done for me and my family. I know how much it means.
Life went on, and the fight went on, gathering momentum as more states legalized same sex marriage initially through court action and then through popular vote.
June 26, 2015 was a triumphant day
We celebrated a landmark victory for gay rights as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right and DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was repealed. Finally, our marriage was recognised in every state in the Union.
We still consider our first wedding as the day we got married. We wrote our own vows and they have traveled with us from home to home framed with pride on the wall in our bedroom.
In October this year, Robin and I will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. We’ve been together 19 years in total and it’s been quite a ride. I promised Robin I’d marry her seven times, we still have a way to go!
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