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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JUNE 2015

25

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

U.S. government.

A

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

FSJ

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

might choose.

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,

our

March 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 on

msnbc.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.

FOCUS

ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION