Postedon Jul 08, 2009 at 06:38 pm
July 8, 2009
A year ago, Ron Choate lived through the meltdown of the economy and the devastating passage of Proposition 8 in California, and then returned to his home in Iowa to help care for his ailing mother. His struggles and the Supreme Court affirmation of marriage equality in February inspired him to start a T-Shirt business, some of the proceeds from which go to Freedom To Marry. Purchases may be made online at: www.soscares.com. [Link]
Postedon Jul 01, 2009 at 09:06 am
Jordan Roth is Vice President of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns and operates five Broadway theaters and is the producer of the hit revival of "Hair."
In addition to his work on the Freedom to Marry Steering Committee , Jordan serves on the boards of GMHC and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Postedon Apr 06, 2009 at 09:30 am
Postedon Mar 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm
Postedon Mar 10, 2009 at 11:07 am
Postedon Feb 11, 2009 at 03:00 pm
When I was first coming out, I began singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus in Washington, DC. I worked at a high-powered corporate consulting firm, and was fresh off getting my MBA at Wharton. But I wasn’t yet out at work. This was the early 80’s, and I wasn’t that sure of myself – both as a gay man and as an out professional. So I kept things to myself at work and channeled my burgeoning pride into my singing.
But one day, a colleague asked me to lunch. It turns out she had been in the audience for one of the concerts and was a lesbian, so this was her way of coming out to me and of arranging for me to come out to her. We had a great lunch that day as we shared stories of our respective girl and boy friends. It started a wonderful friendship and a great business relationship. It was, in fact, the beginning of my GLBT work network.
The really nice thing, though, was that my act of “gay pride” – singing in the chorus – helped me create a foundation for the future. It was a baseline of safety and support that I was able to draw on through-out my career.
When 5 years had passed and I was finally out to all my consulting colleagues, it made things amazingly easy for me at work when my partner and I decided to have children. The people that had gotten to know me – the real me – were so supportive. My boss at the time, one of the senior partners of the firm, threw the baby shower, and my daughter’s birth was announced in the firm’s newsletter – just like those of all my colleagues.
That was great while I was with the consulting firm, but eventually it was time for me to make the move into the corporate world. Yet while the prospect of finding the right place to work -- a place that would be welcoming to who I was (a gay dad at that) – seemed daunting, I now knew it mattered.
And once again, that foundation of support came through for me. I got a call from an old consulting colleague who had gone off to found Capital One, and he wanted me to join them. What a great prospect -- an opening to be part of a vibrant, growing company that wanted to revolutionize its industry! And even better, they knew me, and I knew them.
So when I asked my old friend what it was like for gay people at Capital One, he told me about one of his SVP’s who was a lesbian. It turned out that when she had a commitment ceremony with her partner, the entire senior management team attended. It was a great endorsement, and I knew Capital One was the place for me.
But while I knew some of the folks there, I certainly didn’t know everyone. After all, this was a company that in the first 5 years I worked there grew from 2,500 staff to over 10,000. In my role, I worked cross-functionally with people from all over the company, in cities like Richmond, Tampa and Dallas. Singing in the local gay men’s chorus wasn’t going to help me this time.
Instead, as I grew within Capital One, it meant constantly and frequently coming out – over and over again. Because, every time I met with someone new, I had to establish a relationship – and ideally an open and authentic one at that. What better way than to share what we have in common, and more often than not that was having kids.
However, as soon as I talked to a new team-mate about my children’s latest escapade, he or she would ask about my wife. The first time this happened, I was flummoxed. Somehow it had slipped my mind that the other person didn’t know I was gay. What to do? Well, I think the first time I just hemmed and hawed and adroitly shifted the subject.
I knew, though, that wasn’t what I wanted to do. Instead I developed a patter if asked about my “wife”: “Oh no, I’m not married. I’m gay. My partner and I have been together 17 years and we have two kids – a daughter who’s now in 2nd grade and a son who’s in Kindergarten.”
The first time I tried this, it came out a little shaky. My colleague stopped for a second (while the mental wheels turned in her head!), and then gave me a big smile and said, “Oh that’s great. Wow 17 years – when did you meet?” And then we went on and got to know each other some more. Somehow, that flood of information – and the fact she could make sense of it all – defused what could be a difficult situation. More importantly, she felt pride in her reaction, and I felt good about being authentic.
After a while, it got easier and easier, which also mattered for me, as these situations always seemed to come up when you least expected them. The honesty also meant a new colleague could trust me, and maybe most importantly, by putting a human face on being gay and being a gay parent, I had chipped away at homophobia.
Ultimately that’s the lesson here. Being honest about who we are and telling our stories – even when we least expect to and even in the workplace – builds a connection in people. That connection tears down walls and builds support. It’s also how I know we will ultimately win the freedom to marry.
Postedon Feb 11, 2009 at 01:00 pm
I climb telephone poles for AT&T, America’s number one phone company and I am just as proud of that as my non-gay co-workers. Also like my co-workers, I feel passionately about marriage. I am part of a work group in Indianapolis where all four members of our team are married, including me and we all talk about our spouses openly and with respect. Being the authentic me with my co-workers has made a big difference in my attitudes about work and it all started when I got married.
I was blessed to find the right man in my life after years of hoping, but we had to make a trip to Canada to be married. It was an awesome experience but it should not have been necessary because we should have had that right here in Indiana. However, if I had not taken the trip and had this special wedding in another country, I would never have realized how important marriage equality was to me and be able to share that with others.
That weekend, I was able to feel just like every other straight American feels on their wedding day. That feeling is so fresh in my heart and it makes me want to share it with everyone I meet. We ran into many couples on our special day in Niagara Falls, and we all wished one another well. They seemed to be all straight couples caught up in the joy of marriage. It was amazing!
I can understand Americans having a difference of opinion on the subject of marriage equality. What I can't understand is how anyone, straight or gay, thinks that marriage between a gay couple in America will make the marriage of a straight couple any less meaningful. The couples at Niagara Falls certainly didn’t and we shared in each other’s joy.
Before getting married, I didn’t talk much about being gay at work – my church, my weekend entertainment or the political issues impacting me as a gay man. Now, my co-workers hear about my real life every day just as I hear about the things that concern them. There are four of us guys on my team. We wear jeans and work-boots, and we are "the guys" called in for the big emergencies. We are a team, one gay and three non-gay, and we trust each other and respect one another’s marriages.
Yes, I climb telephone poles for AT&T but I’m also an openly “married man” with all my co-workers and that has made all the difference in the world. Thanks Marty, Ryan and Todd.
***Greg Disney works for AT&T and lives in Indianapolis. He and Tahlib were married on January 28, 2008.
Postedon Nov 07, 2008 at 12:08 pm
November 7, 2008
Many local business owners in Calif. are worried over the economic impact of Prop. 8's passage: "I have done a gay wedding every week. And so it's very disheartening, because other business is very slow." [Link]
Postedon Nov 04, 2008 at 02:37 pm
November 4, 2008
Overall, consumers find it reassuring when a corporation shows some interest and commitment in social and political issues: it indicates a stake in the community. Said Loden, "More and more consumers are looking for companies that are helping their communities to thrive. Visibility on issues for social good can be beneficial to corporations." [Link]