I have made my choice and it is to stand up and be counted. To take a stand. To be a more public figure in the fight for LGBTQ equality.
Staying in the closet let me sit out years of the fight for LGBTQ equality, including the early fight for AIDS funding and treatment. I was not so naïve when I came out in my mid-50s to think that the fight was over, but the LGBTQ momentum seemed so great just a few years ago that it felt like a force that could not be stopped. Not to come out seemed antiquated. The world was so welcoming of being gay that I believed, (truly), that only good things would come from my being out in the world. In fact, only good things have come from my coming out.
But the pendulum has swung back and the LGBTQ community again finds itself in the continued fight for equality and equal treatment under the law. In the various roles I play where I work and in my community I am finding that I need to take a more public position and join the fight for equality.
At work this week I am holding a team meeting with the more senior individuals in my group. I feel compelled to discuss, in light of the recent international turmoil following the inauguration of the new American president, the flood of unsettling news coming at us, and to reiterate that our company has a strong tradition of respecting and fostering a diverse workforce. In my volunteer work with a small LGBTQ non-profit organization, we now must decide how to react to the larger issues roiling the country and how much of a public stance we want to take. I have asked myself how much of a public stance I personally want to take.
Having spent a few sleepless nights wrestling with myself on the new roles I am being asked to play I made some core decisions. First, I am ready to join the fight. To me, leadership is about how you navigate through difficult times. Navigating through these issues and and taking public positions is not entirely new for me but in the LGBTQ world it is relatively new.
Tomorrow, at my team meeting, while not LGBTQ focused, but inclusive of LGBTQ, will be my first public stance on what is happening in our country. To be clear, my presentation tomorrow is not political. It is about how my team conducts themselves at work and how we ensure that we create a safe, supportive, diverse workspace for our employees and contractors. But it will send a strong message that we hold on to the rich tradition of diversity, backed up by our corporate policies, our code of conduct and our published values.
This is the begging of a new generation of the fight for LGBTQ equality. The LGBTQ community of today will not sit by while rights are taken away. I think the United States in general has woken up the the threats caused by the new administration and is mobilizing to fight.