Mediaplanet spoke with KiSS 92.5’s Maurie Sherman, known on the airwaves as Damnit Maurie, to discuss his life and his workplace advice for others in the LBGTQ2+ community.
What’s your favourite part about working at KiSS 92.5?
I love that I get to be myself on The Roz and Mocha Show. Roz and Mocha both encourage me to talk about my marriage with Matthew and celebrate all my milestones with me. They’re both wonderful cheerleaders for the LGBT2Q+ community and I’m thrilled to be a part of a show and radio station that allow me to be me.
Before we get back to the workplace, how did you meet your husband?
We met in 2007 at the MuchMusic Video Awards (now iHeartRadio MMVAs). Matthew, a publicist for CTV, was working the press room and I was covering the show as working media. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him a work-related question. A few weeks and emails later, we met for dinner and we immediately clicked. But Matthew was very adamant about not dating a member of the media — and so a friendship began. On New Year’s Eve, after seven months of just being the best of friends, we were dining at one of our favourite restaurants and Matthew, unbeknownst to me, wrote a note on a piece of paper that read “Now is the right time,” and placed it under my dinner plate before the waiter removed it. From there, our relationship began, where we shared in our mutual love for each other and all things Mariah Carey and The Golden Girls.
How did you get engaged?
It was at a Mariah Carey concert in Las Vegas! When we started talking about marriage, Matthew jokingly told me it would only happen if he got to meet his idol, Mariah Carey. I was able to make it happen — at the show, Mariah called us on stage and handed me the mic and I proposed!
Have you ever struggled with being yourself at work?
The struggles that I’ve had with being myself were caused by my own inner assumptions, fears, and ideas. I’ve never had struggles imposed by the radio stations I worked at.
What advice do you have for those in the LGBT2Q+ community struggling to be themselves at work?
You need to live your life for yourself, and you need to be happy with YOU. It’s important to love yourself first. That said, no one is forcing you to be “loud and proud.” You need to go at your own speed. But you should never feel that you can’t be yourself or can’t be proud of yourself or can’t love yourself. I’m speaking vaguely as everyone’s situation is very different.
How have you seen Toronto progress and become a more diverse and inclusive community?
There will always be a lot of work to be done, however, over the years I’m thrilled to see Pride celebrated more and more in Toronto. I remember when Pride was just celebrated in one part of town. Now in June you see it all over the place. As much as there can be an evil side of social media, I really think it has helped spread acceptance and individualism when it comes to Pride. It acts as an outlet to help spread awareness and to help educate and relate.
What do you think employers need to do to create an inclusive and diverse workplace?
Many employers are really coming around to celebrating individual diversity. I know at Rogers (KiSS 92.5’s parent company), they really make an incredible effort to celebrate Pride, often working with charities, having heavy involvement in the parade, and decorating the building in rainbow colours. This allows everyone to feel welcome and of course helps with visibility and awareness.
Companies need to continue to celebrate the diversity in our communities, hire and stand by their diverse employees, and allow them to be represented. By doing so — especially in these times — they set an example. It’s amazing to hear stories about how many different companies are trying to take part in Pride festivities and to represent inclusivity. Ultimately, you want your staff to feel supported and welcome in the office. It makes for a healthy and productive environment.