By Paul von Wupperfeld, Chair Emeritus Out & Equal Dallas-Fort Worth Edited by Jessica Franklin
For many people, displaying a picture of their loved ones on their desk at work is as natural as the cup of coffee they put next to it. But imagine you’re one of the more than 40% of LGBT employees who are not out at work, according to the annual Harris/Out & Equal Workplace Culture Poll. And what if you live in one of the 29 states where it is still legal to get fired on account of your sexual orientation, 33 on account of your gender identity? The simple act of displaying a picture of the person you love can be a profound statement.
That’s why it is amazing how much courage was on display recently in Dallas, Texas at the second annual “Frame Your Love Day.” Out & Equal Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) organized a day when everyone – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight – was encouraged to display a picture of their family or loved ones in the workplace. Out & Equal DFW’s mission is workplace equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Equality includes the ability to proudly display a picture of a partner, spouse, child or other loved ones. After all, our straight co-workers never give a second thought about showing off their family pictures.
For many, the first experience meeting an LGBT person will be at work. When they realize someone they like, respect, and communicate with on a daily basis also happens to be LGBT, they learn to recognize the humanity beneath the labels. This is the most effective step to getting our co-workers to embrace equality. As Harvey Milk famously said, “You must come out, to your neighbors, to your fellow workers. Once and for all break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”
To kick off “Frame Your Love” day, some of our colleagues at GE distributed acrylic frames to everyone in their local office, LGBT and allies, and encouraged them all to “Frame Your Love.” We were delighted to learn that many people participated, sparking some great conversations. After the event, many people left their pictures out – possibly permanently.
“Frame Your Love Day” included a celebration with complimentary refreshments and an open microphone for people to discuss how the day went for them. Jeffrey Gorczynski, Out & Equal DFW Chair Emeritus and a vice president at Citi, moderated a discussion about the day. He closed the evening’s discussion with the following thoughts:
“You never know the impact of ‘Framing Your Love’ and sharing your pictures. After displaying a wedding picture of me and my husband Troy, I received a message from John S. He said ‘I wanted to give you a great big giant THANK YOU. I’ve been going through some really tough nonsense in my life recently, and had forgotten about the amazing power of love. Seeing the love that you and Troy have in your pictures, and listening to your message has helped more than you could ever know. You’ve been a big part of my healing, without even knowing it. I can’t thank you enough.’
“I had no idea that by simply sharing a picture of my love and happiness, I could help someone else get through a very tough time in their own lives. Please continue to share who you are, because you never know how much you are changing hearts and minds.”
A wise person once said, “if you want to live in a world where you can safely put your same-sex partner’s picture on your desk, put your partner’s picture on your desk and you will be living in that world.” On May 13, we took a step forward in creating that world. “Frame Your Love” was a very emotional and empowering event, and I couldn’t be more proud of Out & Equal DFW for leading this discussion. I hope we can inspire many other cities to do the same.