Peace Corps Pride Events 2011

Peace Corps and Pride – 2011

 Peace Corps and LGBT RPCVs were actively involved in many Gay Pride activities in June. We have reports from five cities: Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D. C.

Boston: The New England Regional Corps Office sponsored a recruiting and information table at the Boston Pride Festival. Two staff members presided and eight RPCVs sat with the staff to talk about their experiences as Peace Corps Volunteers. 63 Pride participants stopped by the table, and 27 signed up to get more information about Peace Corps. Although there was some rain and cold, there was great participation from the RPCVs. They came out and helped set up early on Saturday morning and stayed throughout the festival to share their life enhancing experiences with budding volunteers. Peace Corps found the Boston Pride Committee highly organized and looks forward to participating in future Pride events.

Chicago: The Chicago Peace Corps office had a contingent in the Chicago Gay Pride parade. 18 people marched in all: five Staff Members, seven RPCVs, long with six friends and family. It was a great day. The Peace Corps marching group had a huge Peace Corps banner, a flag, and several marchers were dressed in country of service traditional costumes. The contingent handed out lots of stickers and post cards promoting an upcoming Diversity Information Session. Marchers got a great reaction from the crowd. Much of it obviously from other RPCVs, shouting out their countries of service: Paraguay, China, Tanzania and others.

New York City:

 

 
Approximately 30 people walked, carried flags, beat a drum, and lost their voices shouting “50 More Years, 50 More Years!” behind the Peace Corps banners at New York City’s June Pride March. The marching group consisted of RPCVs who had served in countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Nominees on their way to becoming PCVs as well as family and friends were also part of the group. RPCV, Kat, Suriname, grabbed friends and jumped on a bus with 20 giant country of service flags from Peace Corps Headquarters in DC just to join in this year’s historic Pride March. Onlookers clapped, cheered, and shouted “Thank You!” This being New York there were also lots of cheers from the crowd for the Jamaican and Dominican Republic flags that were carried by RPCVs who served in those countries. 

The New York Office also held an information session aimed at prospective LGBT applicants. 25 people attended. About half of them joined staff and 8 LGBT RPCVs at the Cubby Hole for a happy hour and lots of questions about the lives of LGBT PCVs in the developing world.

San Francisco:

The local Bay Area chapter of LGBT RPCVs held its 20th anniversary Pride Celebration on Bill and Tony’s deck in the Castro, the Saturday afternoon before the Pride March. Several women in the group also were part of the Dyke March at nearby Dolores Park early that evening. About 40 people showed up at the barbecue, many longtime members, other’s there for the first time. Lots of good food, drink and conversation. Hard to believe it was 20 years ago that LGBT RPCVs was founded in Washington D.C. and groups there and in San Francisco had their first meetings.

Washington D.C.:

For the D.C. Pride Parade on Saturday June 11, Peace Corps had a very animated group of around 30 RPCVs and PC staff members carrying their country of service flags. The marching contingent also carried Peace Corps banners and had a very welcoming reception from the estimated 100,000 people watching the parade. On Saturday night the Peace Corps marching group was notified that it had won the “Harvey Milk Award for Best Public Sector Contingent.” The group was called up on the main stage during Sunday’s festival to receive the award. Peace Corps also hosted an information table at the festival on the Sunday where there were an estimated 200,000 attendees. LGBT RPCVs sat at the table along with Peace Corps Staff.

Earlier in the month Peace Corps hosted an LGBT RPCV panel in the Rosslyn, VA recruiting office for about 20 participants. Earlier the same day at Peace Corps Headquarters in downtown D.C., transgendered political appointees appointed by the Obama administration came to speak to Peace Corps employees about transgender issues. There were about 100 employees in attendance. The Deputy Director introduced the panelists and there were lots of Q and A’s.

Later in June, Peace Corps’ Office of Diversity Recruitment and National Outreach sponsored a webinar “Have Rainbow, Will Travel: The LGBT Experience in the Peace Corps.” There were 25 participants and six panelists, two lesbian, two gay, and two transgendered RPCVs. They answered so many questions about the challenges and opportunities for LGBT volunteers. There is another panel discussion planned for the fall.

A Special Thanks: So many people on Peace Corps staff and LGBT RPCVs helped to make these 50th Peace Corps anniversary and Gay Pride related events successful. A special thanks to all who worked to make these such a success, particularly Bill and Tony, Jerry, Jeffrey, John, Kat, Kiva, Shari, Stephen – who all helped organize and coordinate activities.

Peace Corps and Pride – 2010

Many of the Regional Peace Corps Offices are scheduling Information and Recruiting tables at Gay Pride Events around the country early this summer. The Boston Office will have tables at both Boston and Providence Pride festivals. The Seattle Office will have a table at the Portland, OR event. The Los Angeles Office will be at LA Pride. The Mid-Atlantic Office will have a place at Washington DC Pride. The Chicago Office is involved in a forum during Chicago Pride, and the San Francisco Office has scheduled a number of events during June targeting the LGBT community. There will also be an LGBT Pride forum at Peace Corps HQ in Washington for HQ employees. There may be more, but this is what we have heard of so far.

Again this year, LGBT RPCVs have provided all the Regional Offices and HQ staff with a packet of information and four articles from our website that answer many of the questions that LGBT applicants and nominees often ask.

Once again a Peace Corps Director has designated June as LGBT Pride Month at Peace Corps. This is Director William’s message to the entire Peace Corps family.

Letter to PC Global from PC Director Regarding LGBT Pride 2010
June 1, 2010

TO: Peace Corps Global

FROM: Aaron S. Williams, Director

SUBJECT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

I am pleased to designate June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month at the Peace Corps. This month recognizes and honors the many contributions that gay and lesbian Americans have made in our workplace, communities, and country. The theme for this month’s observance is “One heart, One world, One pride.”

In 2000, President Clinton designated June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in Manhattan, the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

Over the past year the Peace Corps has continued to make strides towards building a more inclusive environment for our dedicated gay and lesbian Volunteers and staff. This year we officially recognized same-sex domestic partners as eligible family members for overseas staff, elevating their status from member of household. This change allows same-sex domestic partners to be included on travel orders and entitled to many of the same benefits married spouses receive.

During the month of June, please take the time to contemplate how we are all part of the same human family and how this year’s theme reflects Peace Corps’ own goals to promote cross-cultural understanding and bring people together.

In honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, and on behalf of the Peace Corps, I extend my gratitude to LGBT Volunteers and staff for their efforts to foster world peace and friendship and fulfill the three goals of the Peace Corps.

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