June is LGBT Pride Month
A Community Champion
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Pride Month is celebrated every June. This year, we had the pleasure of speaking with Linda Anderson, an Ashford alumna who uses her education and professional experience to promote equality, spread awareness, and enhance understanding of the LGBT community.
“My MBA opened the door for new professional opportunities with my employer,” says Linda Anderson, who now works as an Operations Manager at a Kellogg Company plant in Battle Creek, MI. “On a personal level, it also helped move me a step closer to obtaining my PhD.” You might think that someone who is busy as an Operations Manager while pursuing her PhD might not have time to promote equality throughout the community. On the contrary, Linda has used her professional experience to support LGBT community members while increasing awareness in professional environments.
When Western Michigan University launched its LBGTA Career Mentorship program, Linda served as a keynote speaker at the launch event. Her speech promoted confidence in LGBT professionals by normalizing their experience. “We talked about our experiences in life, work, and school in an LGBT environment.” Linda is not only an honored guest speaker at LGBT events, she also serves as a committee chair member for a Pride and Allies’ Employee Resource Group. (LGBT Office, 2013).
The Importance of Allies
As a member of the LGBT community, Linda knows the importance of having support. When asked about her support system, Linda is quick to acknowledge the love of her family. “They accepted me for who I am . . . I was a teenager, and when I told them, they just accepted me.”
While support from her family was important, not everyone is lucky enough to be in such a supportive environment. “They feel like an outcast . . . people do crazy things when they’re not accepted . . . whether you’re at school or you’re at work, you want to be able to go and be yourself, instead of having to hide who you are.”
For those having a hard time finding sources of support, Linda recommends seeking out an ally. “There are members in the community who are allies who accept you for who you are. Reach out to them. Because even though they might not be your immediate family, it’s still a family.”
An ally is someone who is not a part of the LGBT community directly, but shares the beliefs for which the community stands. The website glaad.org lists ten ways to be an ally and a friend:
- Be a listener.
- Be open-minded.
- Be willing to talk.
- Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
- Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
- Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
- Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Defend your friends against discrimination.
- Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
- If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org.
While these steps are a great way to become a more effective ally, Linda’s definition is simple: “Anyone who supports what you stand for is an ally.”
A Time for Change
State laws that govern marriage are changing fast. At the time of this post, nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. In nine more states, judicial rulings against a same-sex marriage ban have been stayed pending appeal. Linda is thrilled about the rapid pace of change. “It’s wonderful. It’s been a fight for so many years.” When asked about why this equality was so important, her answer was easy. “In simple terms, it’s just about equality, period. You just want to be treated like everyone else . . . we’re all human.”
Written by: Samuel Harvey
Sam is the Content Specialist for the Office of Student Access and Wellness at Ashford University.