'I was employed for what I do, not for being a Russian gay man' – Coley Porter Bell's Alex Butenko

Alex Butenko

The Drum's Diversity Census invited individuals from across the marketing industries to tell us how being ‘different’ has shaped their careers.

Alex Butenko, graphic designer at Coley Porter Bell, is the latest to share his experiences in our 'Talent is Talent' series.

Being a gay man with a Russian background can be challenging, even in such a progressive city as London.

Without going into the controversies of Russian politics, it’s fair to say that there are certain perceptions and stereotypes of Russia you just wouldn’t want to be associated with. Multiply these by the stereotypes about gay people and you might end up being put in boxes based solely on the combination of your heritage and sexual orientation. Fortunately, my experience wasn’t bad at all.

First of all, work environment is so important and I was lucky enough to land myself a job in a very liberal and open place straight after graduating. However, I’d like to think that Coley Porter Bell isn’t the only brand design agency that celebrates diversity. Surely, the creative industry must be the last one to be associated with the tube-vision mind set.

Nevertheless, even if someone makes assumptions about you based on the stereotypes, it’s how you deal with it that counts. In fact, let others try to deal with you being different. At the end of the day, ‘different’ is what drives the change, which charges our creativity, so diversity should be celebrated and even promoted, especially in our industry.

Above all though, I was employed for what I do, not for being a Russian gay man and that’s what really matters.

Illustration by Alex Butenko

More illustrations created for the Diversity Census can be found here.

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