Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Impressions of the Millennium March

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Note: Originally posted on the EAGLE online community site, behind IBM's firewall on 3 May 2000, at 10:45 am, and posted here on 24 May 2007:

Just some of my impressions of the Millennium March on Washington

During your pre-teens, I don't know how many of you read "Tiger Beat" magazine, but I did because my best friend Amy did. Amy had long, blond hair and would swoon over Leif Garrett, who had long, blond hair. I would swoon over Scott Baio, who had short, brown hair like me.

Amy always seemed to be far more transported by her icon than I was by mine.

This memory came back to me at the Equality Rocks concert in DC this past weekend. Melissa Etheridge spoke of being interviewed by the Netherlands edition of "Tiger Beat" because the interviewer thought that Melissa Etheridge could serve as a role model for youth who were questioning their sexual orientation. And to think that I could have felt free to swoon over Valerie Bertinelli or Kristy McNichol instead! Oh, the wasted energy.

(I had the same regret when I read Giovanni's Room for the first time this past summer. My sister Kathy had bought the novel at a tag sale when were were nine and 15 and it sat in our joint bookcase ever since, but unfortunately, I never picked it up. Well, I make discoveries as I'm ready to.)

The statement that resonated most for me during the weekend of the March came from Doug Elix, the senior executive sponsor of the IBM Gay and Lesbian Executive Task Force: He believes in valuing gay and lesbian IBMers and customers not only because it's good business, but also out of a sense of "social justice." How encouraging to hear a direct report of Lou Gerstner speaking in such terms, and not only about the bottom-line talent and revenue opportunities -- which, of course, are also substantial.

At dinner before our departure, I was reminded that glbt or not, everyone needs encouragement: A non-gay friend of ours said, "I know this is really self-involved, but I sat through the rally, looking around at tons of gay and lesbian couples, thinking, They've found each other. Why am I still single?"

"It's a miracle," I responded, "for anyone to find anyone." He smiled gratefully. And that's what the March represented for me -- a celebration of my love of: my partner Pat; my family -- we stayed with my first cousin Sari; my IBM colleagues; some of my favorite music; the glbt community at large; and myself. How miraculous!

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