THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
With significant successes to
celebrate, GLIFAA is broadening
its reach in the campaign for full
equality for LGBT individuals.
BY SE L I M AR I TURK
SelimAriturk, a Foreign Service officer since 2005, teaches
public diplomacy training courses at the Foreign Service
Institute. His overseas postings have included Seoul,
Baku and Erbil. The president of GLIFAA (originally Gays
and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies), he previously
served as that organization’s policy director, vice president and first post
representative coordinator (when that position was created in 2009).
The views expressed here are his alone and not necessarily those of the
s our country has changed, so, too,
has GLIFAA. The group that was
founded in 1992 as Gays and Lesbi-
ans in Foreign Affairs Agencies now
welcomes more and more members
who are neither gay nor lesbian.
Some of them identify as bisexual or
transgender, and some as allies.
With that reality in mind, this year
our members voted to make our acronym our name: GLIFAA.
Everyone has always been welcome in GLIFAA, and we want to
make that openness even more explicit. Similarly, our new tagline
is “LGBT+ Pride in Foreign Affairs Agencies.” I suspect most
readers will know that LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
How Far We’ve Come,
How Far We Have to Go:
GLIFAA in 2015
transgender; we like to think the + stands for every additional “let-
ter” one could conceivably think of—including any that our allies
For those who remember the dark days of the “Lavender
Scare,” or have read the book of the same title, and know about the
terrible witch hunts to root out all the “pansies” and “pinkos” at
State throughout the ColdWar, but particularly during the 1950s,
ourMarch 24 event with six “out” ambassadors
was an inspiring
reminder of just how far the march toward equality has brought us.
Imagine: Six out and proud ambassadors on stage, each talk-
ing about the work he can do more effectively because he can be
open. Now imagine that panel being moderated by Stuart Milk,
nephew of the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who
so famously showed us the importance of being out in govern-
ment service. This may have seemed unimaginable to GLIFAA’s
founders in 1992, but in March the whole thing was recorded and
beamed around the world onmsnbc.com
for any post to use as
they tell this very American story.
Many of GLIFAA’s founders were in the room for that event.
One, Ted Osius, was on the panel as an out ambassador. Another,
Jan Krc, was among those who were once kicked out of the Foreign
Service just for being gay. Jan sued to get back in, lost, and then,
after the law changed, showed his great patriotism by signing up
to join our proud Foreign Service once more.
ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION