I first realized I was gay in the midst of the 2004 election when the President capitalized on the fear of gay people to get reelected. 

I first realized I was gay in the midst of the 2004 election when the President capitalized on the fear of gay people to get reelected. 

As a Federal employee, this man shares his experience in realizing he was gay during a Presidential election. He also shares his experience with going to a High School where it was "cool" to be gay. His story goes into how he takes care of himself during these trying times, as well as his experience at work as a gay man. This story was captured in Washington, D.C.

Chernobyl had happened and while my parents were living in Moscow, and they were like "Well this doesn't seem very safe to have a kid."

There was nuclear fallout coming toward the city, so they hopped on a plane while my mom was 9 months pregnant and flew to Stockholm to give birth to my sister there. I was born in Alexandria, VA when my parents were working at a State Department funded think tank in DC. We moved to Pittsburgh when I was one year old, when my parents got a job at the University of Pittsburgh. I only really remember Pittsburgh. It's a cool, hip little weird city.

I have a lot of mixed emotions with everything that is going on politically.

I think a lot of it hasn't completely kicked in for me. There's a lot of concern and anxiety that I feel, and I don't remember feeling this much concern and anxiety that was largely external for me. This is a period of time where its not that I'm not worried for myself.  I am, but I don't see myself being hugely at risk in quite the ways a lot of my friends are. I have friends whose families are undocumented.  I went to a school that is a majority of international students.  Everyone is freaked out.  So, it's things like that scares me the most. I guess it hasn't kicked in for me completely yet because I have not seen this many people that I'm close to care so much about politics, activism, and trying really hard to get things done.  

The Left has just been so disinterested in politics for the past 8 years because we have had everything that we wanted.

In a weird sense, it's refreshing to see we are back in this era of like the late Bush administration where everyone is just fucking fed up and is willing to fight, to scream, and to yell.  There is a part of me that misses that era. Unfortunately that era only comes about when things incredibly terrible. Things are worse now then they were then. It's definitely not something that I'm happy about, but it's something that gives me some sense of optimism. 

I try to make sure that if my friends and I protest, we do it together.

Whether we're rounding people up, making signs together, or doing a game night after, I want to make sure we are still taking care of ourselves after a protest. We are going to yell, and we are going to scream, and we're going to raise hell, but then we are going to have some fun too.  Having fun is still an important part of life.

I first realized I was gay in the midst of the 2004 election when the President capitalized on the fear of gay people to get reelected. 

He was amending the Constitution in order to explicitly tell gay people that their relationships aren't welcome. Coming to terms with the fact that I was gay was heavily tied in for me with the idea of activism. Initially I wanted to become a Civil Rights lawyer, from there it sort of developed into an interest in Human Rights law. With the financial crisis, every lawyer was out of work, so I went from Human Rights law to International Public policy and that's essentially what I do now. It's a weird set of twists that realizing I was gay had made me interested in Government work.  It doesn't seem to make any sense, but they tie together in a very strange way. The early years of when I was coming to terms with my sexuality was right around the same time when Congress was considering Hate Crimes legislation and the President was threatening to Veto it. There was a period of time in which Gay Rights were going nowhere, the idea of marriage equality looked like a pipe dream.  To a certain degree, that also shaped my interest in activism.

I didn't have struggles in coming out with family and friends.  

I was lucky in that respect. My parents are both professors.  They're both very Left-wing.  My mother raised three kids from previous marriage that weren't her children, they were her Step-Children, one of whom is gay, so she's essentially raised a gay son before, so there is nothing new here for her.  

High School is the shitty time for everyone, especially when you're gay. It's bad for everyone, but when you are LGBT, you are particularly not accepted, but it was not like that at all at my school.

I went to a performing arts high school, so it was like Fame or Glee or pretty much. To describe it as a gay school is not like offensive and you are not like insulting people by saying "Oh you went to the gay school" it was like "No, you actually went to the gay school."  You weren't popular if you weren't gay, so that stuff that was all quite easy.

All the other Public schools would ban same-sex couples from prom.

Our school took something of a blind eye to a same-sex couple, even if they did not attend our school and showed up to prom. Such like, if you need a place to go, you can come here. My school became a safe space for like LGBTQ couples. My school was so gay, and I can say that with love. When it would rain outside the kids would sing in the hallway, "If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops oh what a world it would be!" We couldn't learn about Galileo in History class because everyone would sing Bohemian Rhapsody.  In Gym class, we did the dance moves to Thriller, by Michael Jackson.  

I just finished a 2 year Grad program, and I don't have an easy time making friends.

The first year was in Pittsburgh, so I knew the city. The entire University was a resource for what fun things you could do in the city.  The second year was in DC, so about 20 of the students moved to DC together. We created our own community in DC, and we still hang out all the time. I essentially came to DC with a circle of friends already, which has been really helpful. Beyond that, it's been challenging. I don't hang out with my co-workers in my free time, and I don't have an easy time making friends, I guess.  I don't really know how else to do it. I've been fortunate to have these groups that sorta came with me, but if those were to disappear or if they were to fall apart or something, I don't know man.

The dating scene in DC is terrible. I'm a big history buff. I love finding parallels between past and present, and understanding themes and narratives within history and trying to tie it to things that are going on today.

It's a weird nerdy thing that I geek out about.  I've never been one for like the club scene, or the dance scene. That's not my thing. I will stand there and move my shoulders and that's about it.It's terrible for me because I come from Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh is very unapologetically grungy hipster.  If you go to a bar and you've showered, you're probably the only that showered that day.  Pittsburgh is the city where you can show up to a bar in your pajamas and no one will look at you weird.  I once referred to it as the town that fashion forgot.  It's very intentioned that way. Everyone dresses "norm-core" if you know that expression, deliberate fashion trend of just being completely oblivious to fashion.  Pittsburgh is just grungy bizarre and I love everything about it.  DC is not that at all. DC is the city, especially if you're gay, where you do not go out if you have a pimple on your head on your face.  You lock your door, you stay in, you don't go to a bar. It feels like the gay scene here is very conceited. The personality of the city in general is very alpha. People don't seem to want to talk to you unless there is some reason that it benefits them.  A lot of it does feel very toxic, and so finding people that are authentic and approachable is challenging.  I've met plenty of people that don't fit that mold, but they're exceptional.

I'm not the type of person who is out at work.

I hear passing comments that are a little bit homophobic.  The comments have never actually risen to the point to where I have to stop somebody and beat,  "Hey that was completely inappropriate."  I've witnessed plenty of discrimination on the basis of race and gender in a workplace setting, but I can't think of a time in which I've felt like I've been discriminated.  Half the people know that I am gay, and half of the people don't.  Those who know, know because I have LGBT stuff on my resume from past work.  I am allowed to be out at work now. There are Federal workplace protections for LGBT people now,  although those may go away in the next four years. I've never felt what it was like to be formally unwelcome in my environment either because it's illegal to discriminate against me.

I've also worked with LGBT policy inclusion in University.

At some Universities, if you were transgender, you could use the bathroom of the gender that is listed on your birth certificate. If you had not gotten your birth certificate changed, or if you came from a state that didn't allow you change your birth certificate, tough shit.  If I was born male, and I identified as female and come from the state of Ohio, the state of Ohio does not let someone change the gender on their birth certificate. Therefore, it will permanently say that I'm male. Therefore, the University will require me to use the men's room even if I identify as female. The university's policy was semi-inclusive. If I could get a change, they would honor it. If I couldn't get a change, tough shit.  It varies state by state. It was the subject of a lawsuit, a student from Ohio sued the school because he was arrested. He was a transman who was arrested in a locker room. I was hired an unofficial level to answer questions like, "What are things that other Universities are doing to include LGBT students?  How do they do it?  And if we wanted to do it here, how we do it?"  Nothing changed as a result of the work that I did, because bureaucracies have bureaucracies.  The University created a website that lists LGBT resources like what's available on campus for whom, tips for study abroad if you are LGBT, and dos and don'ts sort of things.  It included where there are gender neutral restrooms on campus as well. Other things pushed them on the Federal level when the Obama administration issued an executive order about Transgender uses of bathrooms for public schools. The University, which didn't have to comply, complied anyway. The law didn't apply because it was a University, and not a public or secondary school.  

As a Federal employee, I am struggling under administration that I don't agree with.  

There's the perspective that you stay on and you work regardless of who is in power, and you don't let that affect what you do. I actually believe quite strongly in that. I am here to serve the public. The work that I do is apolitical, and so why should I let that affect me?  On the other hand, that can be challenging, and there are limits to that as I don't help people directly as a Federal employee. I help the Government as a Federal employee.  My job is the help the Government do what it does better, and if it is not interested in doing what it does better, than what's the point?


It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to other gay people.

It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to other gay people.

The theater has always been a safe space for me.

The theater has always been a safe space for me.