Openly gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender Hill staffers gathered on the eastern steps of the Capitol today to commemorate National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and to get to know one another.
“It’s important for people to know about our presence on the Hill and that there are out-and-proud staffers working in the House [and Senate],” said John Blair, chairman of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, which works on the House side.
“From the time we started 'til today, I think it’s been a really valuable place for staff to make connections, ask questions and feel comfortable being out,” said Jeffrey Levensaler, co-chairman of GLASS, which was established in 2004 with the help of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “And hopefully people who aren’t out will see this and will come to us.”
GLASS and the CSA hold events where openly gay staff can bond, including community service days, happy hours, networking events and a mentoring program. They also offer résumé reviewing and career counseling to help staffers get promoted or find new jobs on the Hill. And GLASS hosts a brown bag “Lunch and Learn” series where members can gather to discuss significant issues for the LGBT community.
Recent events have featured talks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Frank and James Hormel, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador.
They also assist interns from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, an organization that trains and places LGBT college students interested in pursuing political careers.
Together, the two organizations have almost 400 members, and they frequently host events with the Library of Congress LGBT organization, the GLOBE.