It was just under a year ago that I took my first step into the grey. I had been following Team Rubicon’s exploits while finishing grad school overseas and promised myself I’d get involved in any capacity when I moved back to the USA. Good fortune weighed on my scales and I somehow finagled my way into a job at the National Office. To say I was stoked would be an understatement. I backed out of signing a lease from a kind old Southern gentleman, quit my job of 4 weeks (to my former manager: sorry, not sorry), and moved across the country from Charleston, SC to Los Angeles.
First day jitters are even more acute when you’re going to be spending 40+ hours a week with people and tolerate the burdens of the office (Who keeps putting their crumby knife in the communal butter y’all?). There was something else though that made my mind race a little faster… You see, the fact is, I’m a gay man.
To say the military and veterans haven’t previously been the most accepting people of LGBTQ community would be an understatement. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a poor excuse of a solution before its repeal and it prevented me from serving. I say this having been born at West Point where my grandfather, father, and uncle all attended and taking my middle name, Thayer, after the ‘Father of West Point.’ What’s disappointing is the military has often led the rest of the US and set the example for how an open and multi-cultural society can exist, survive, and thrive.
So I found myself starting at a veteran-based NGO wondering: how would the organization handle my inevitable ‘coming out’? Would they be accepting? Would things be awkward? Coming out isn’t something you do once, celebrate, then get brunch (fact: us gays LOVE brunch). It’s a constant process. Any new person, event, or social function entails a cost-benefit analysis and weighing of risks. Do I decide to decrypt this one meager fact of myself or keep this shit on lockdown? Even though I’m 31 (please tell everyone I’m 28…) and have been out since I was 19, I still found myself doing things like avoiding gendered pronouns when asked if I was dating anyone.
So how’d things turn out? Well, I’m writing this little blog piece so I’d say it went pretty bloody fantastic. I wake up every day proud to work for an organization that lives by its values.
When we say this Tribe is open to anyone, we mean it. TR understands the will to serve doesn’t discriminate. We help people on their worst day without any concern to who or what they are. We help them because they’re people. That’s the only identity that matters to us.
For those who don’t know already, it’s Pride Month so you might notice a few rainbow tinted TR-crosses floating around. It’s a little fitting. Our shirts might be grey but the people that make up this Tribe are some of the most colorful people I’ll ever meet.
Besides, I like grey. It brings out my eyes.