Okay, so I know I was going to stop rambling on about Out & Equal and Reaching Out MBA, the two gay conferences to which my employer sent me over the past couple of weeks… But I just have to say one thing:
It’s amazing how far we’ve come in a few short years.
Yes, there are plenty of areas in which we can continue to grow. Employees can still be legally fired for being openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or even just SUSPECTED to be LGBT. Most states do not allow same-sex couples to have a legally recognized union, much less an equal “marriage” in the eyes of the state, and the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex unions from any state. And LGBT people are still despised and reviled by ignorant people every day in this country, and in some cases are brutally beaten or killed by hateful bigots.
But there are also plenty of signs of progress. Companies send their employees to conferences like Out & Equal, where a few weeks ago more than two thousand LGBT people and their “straight allies” gathered to support workplace equality. I was privileged enough to meet teammates from my employer’s offices around the world, and I ended up making a lot of new friends from my company and others.
A week later, some of the brightest minds in this country gathered together at Reaching Out MBA to proudly proclaim that they are LGBT, and to compete for jobs with the dozens of employers (large and small) that flocked to the career fair in the hopes of hiring a diverse slate of MBA graduates. I talked to a lot of brilliant and talented people about their lives and their careers, and hope to be working with many of them in the years ahead.
And just this morning, my boyfriend and I walked to work together, being playfully affectionate and laughing and smiling and telling each other how much we loved one another. And when I kissed him goodbye once, cars passing by didn’t slow down to yell hateful things out the window or stop to get out and beat us up for being queer.
Then, when we realized he had to go into another door of the building and I walked with him, I kissed him goodbye again in full view of construction workers and professionals and other passersby… And nobody so much as blinked an eye.
None of these things may seem like much progress in the shadow of legalized discrimination and hateful acts of violence… But on this day, in this place, I’ll call it a “win.”