Ally Week at JSC is September 23-27
Ally Week is a national effort
to encourage Allyship with the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
& queer/questioning) community. Being an Ally means taking action in
solidarity with LGBTQ individuals to be inclusive year-round. Each day in
the Roundup Today during Ally Week, there is an informative article on what
being an Ally means. Resources are also found on the Out & Allied Employee
Resource Group website: https://collaboration.sp.jsc.nasa.gov/iierg/LGBTA/SitePages/Home.aspx
Now that you know more about how to be an effective Ally, here are some actions you can take:
- Safe Space Sticker: Post a Safe Space sticker to show that your office is a safe, affirming space for LGBTQ individuals.
- Ally Pledge Card: Sign the Ally Pledge card and
post it in a visible location to demonstrate your commitment to being an Ally.
- Sign the Banner: Sign the ALLIES support
- Ally Challenge: Talk to one group about why you
are an Ally and why it’s important to NASA.
It can be as formal as a staff meeting or as informal as lunch with
- The Ally banner, pledge cards,
and safe space stickers are all available this week in the lobby of B1 by the
We asked people around JSC why they are an Ally. The answers are as varied as they are:
Deputy Director, Human Resources
I recently attended a conference where the top medical officers for
major organizations shared a primary research finding that engagement at work,
or lack thereof, is directly related to a sense of loneliness. I love living and working in the Clear Lake
community where I have numerous friends but also am surrounded by my immediate
family of my husband and daughter along with my mother, sister and numerous
nieces and nephews. I realize that there
are many others in our community that move here to work at our amazing
organization but leave behind friends and family to start over. Being an ally to me is being a good listener,
friend and bridge builder among individuals and communities that are not
My first experience at being a bridge builder was more than 30 years
ago during a time when my uncle was somewhat estranged from the family for
being openly gay. After almost 10 years
of separation from our family, I reconnected with my uncle as part of a
business trip to Washington D.C. As that
relationship grew, more of my family reconciled with him. I have had numerous opportunities to build
bridges over the last 30 years and feel that while I have helped others, I have
been more than blessed by the friends and family in my life as a result of
these growing relationships.
During a recent trip to Dallas where we traveled as a family to meet my
uncle, we visited the location of a newly placed historical marker by the State
of Texas at the intersection of Throckmorton Street and Cedar Springs
Road. The area surrounding this
intersection has been recognized as the center of the LGBTQ community in Dallas
since the early 1970s and became a neighborhood for political activism, social
services and clinical trials during the Aids Crisis in the 1980s. When reflecting on the last fifty years, I
was inspired by the impact that a few people, including my uncle made, not only
in a community but our country.
I know that I have enabled change in our family during the last 30
years in my own way by just being a niece who cared. What we do and how we embrace others around
us makes a difference in their lives, our lives and our communities! Please join me in being an ally and fostering
engagement at JSC.
Deputy Director, Human Health
& Performance Directorate
I am the Deputy Director of Human Health and Performance, an Executive
Sponsor of the Out and Allied Employee Resource Group and most importantly, a
proud ally. When I was growing up, LGBT
people did not have a real voice. I have
been happy to see this change for the better over the years as awareness and
acceptance have improved. However, there
is still a long way to go and we must guard against losing ground. Everyone has something unique and valuable to
contribute to our mission and we need everyone in order to succeed. Allies are key to embracing the value of
diversity in all aspects of society, both here at NASA and out in the
Facilities Contract Analyst for
I’ve always considered myself an Ally.
Finding happiness is hard enough so, when someone does find happiness
with another person, that’s all that matters.
People’s contributions to the world are what’s important, not their
Chief, Accounting Services
I believe in the premise that differences among us bring about
creativity and innovation and do all I can to support being one’s authentic
self at work.
Branch Chief, Space Vehicle
Mockup Facility Office
I’ve just always had gay friends. I’ve simply accepted and understood
that they are who they are meant to be. Everyone deserves to live their best
life. That idea became more critical as my friends found serious relationships,
started raising children, etc. It seemed so unfair that they were treated
differently in the eyes of the law concerning marriage, children, etc. I want
my daughter to grow up in a world where none of that matters, where LBGTQ kids
don’t get bullied or turn to suicide. Love is Love.
Public Outreach Specialist
It was a Saturday afternoon in November of 2013. I was in my den watching TV when my son
Matthew, daughter-in-law Jolene, and my daughter Vicky walked into the
room. They were all standing around me,
and I knew something was wrong. My son
asked me to turn off the TV, because we needed to have a family meeting. Now, I was really worried. Then, he said, “Vicky has something to tell
you.” Vicky began to cry so I stood up
and went to her to comfort her. I said,
“Vicky what’s wrong?” As I was hugging
her, she said, “I’m Gay” while continuing to cry. Vicky then said that she didn’t want to tell
me, because she thought that I would not love her anymore. Anyone who knows me and Vicky knows that we
are really close and have a great mother-daughter relationship. Hearing her say that she was afraid that I
would not love her anymore really shook me to my core. Vicky had just returned from finishing school
in Europe and, since coming home, she was not the same. She was distant and very unhappy. Certain posts on her Facebook page made me
wonder if she was gay. Trying to ease
the tension and the crying, I said to Vicky, “So you’re not in trouble?” And, with a smile while crying, she said,
“No.” Then, I said, “So you’re just
gay?” Then, she was chuckling, and she
said, “Yes.” I continued to hug her and
told her that I was happy that she finally told me. I had had a feeling, but I knew that, when
she was ready to tell me, she would.
While holding her, I told her that I loved her so much and all I could
ever want for her is to be happy. We all
had a family hug, and, from that moment on, I knew Vicky was on a better path
and journey to find her happiness and to find love. I am an ally who believes that it is all
Director, JSC Employee
My initial response to the question “Why are you an ally?” was to think
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Let me explain.
I recall as a very young child meeting my dad’s cousin Bill, who lived
in NYC, at my great uncle’s funeral. There were some whispers and snickers
about him, and, when I asked why, I was told “He likes boys.” I remember wondering why that was bad. He was kind and generous and loving, and it
seemed that he was much loved by my family.
A few years later, an uncle and a cousin had a falling out, because my
cousin told his family he was gay. I
lost contact with him when that uncle broke ties. It broke my heart.
The next event that made a big impression on me was a call during high
school from a distraught friend asking if I had time to talk. She came over, and we sat on my front steps
as she told me she was gay and didn’t know what to do. She sobbed for hours that night, filled with
self-loathing. I didn’t know what to say
except that there was nothing wrong with her, and she was wonderful, that’s
just how she was. It was abundantly
clear to me at that point that this was not a path she chose. She left our small town after graduation and
never returned. I still think about her
and hope she’s ok.
From there I met many LGBT folks in college – all wonderful people with
much to contribute. I watched in despair
as AIDS took a few of those friends in the early days of the epidemic. It sickened me to hear my friends vilified
and blamed for their deaths.
Early in my career as a psychotherapist, a young man came to me,
because he’d heard that I work with the LGBT population. He was gay and wanted conversion
therapy. I told him this was not
legitimate therapy, but I could help him with acceptance. He told me he would lose his whole family if
he couldn’t “make it go away.” It was
clearly not his choice to be gay.
Then my kids were born. They
both sought to live by the “normal” social expectations all the way through
high school. They were not happy or
complete. My daughter came out as gay in
her senior year of high school. My son
came out as transgender in college. They
are now their authentic selves and feel at peace. I would like to tell you that I handled it
all gracefully, but, in truth, I was terrified both times. Not at learning who they were – I think I
knew for many years – but at how society would treat them now. They are brave so I owe it to them to be
brave too. And I’ve realized that all
those prior life experiences prepared me for this. They helped shape me into an unconditionally
loving, affirming parent.
Why am I an ally? How could I be
Electrical Engineer, Avionic Systems Division-Human Interface Branch
While our country has always valued equality, liberty, justice, and the
pursuit of happiness, history shows us that we have failed to make those
possible for all Americans. I am an ally because I believe that I am supposed
to use my privilege to help others and make those ideals a reality. The pursuit
for LGBT equality is one of the leading civil rights issue and I believe that
we all – including those of us who do not identify as LGBT – have a lot to gain
by ensuring equality for everyone. I believe this because Dr. King taught us
that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an
inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever
affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Lead for Export Control, ISS and
My journey as an ally started with a little “a”
My brother came out in the early 1980s and my parents talked
about mental illness, teenage rebellion, drugs, deviant behavior. They tried to “fix” him through therapy and
the military. It was not a good
fit. He became a runaway kid on the
streets of Montrose and learned the music business in the gay bars of Houston,
Austin, Bryan and Galveston and became DJ Chris Allen.
In the beginning, my parents were not equipped with the
tools they needed to accept my brother.
I was away at college and, while I loved my brother, I was an ally with
a little “a”. I had friends who were gay
and I was supportive but I was not an activist.
Eventually I am happy to say that my parents and my brother came to a
loving place in their relationship. But I continued to be an ally with a little
“a” - satisfied to be a silent behind the scenes.
The Out & Allied ERG helped me become an Ally with a
capital “A” and to find my voice. It
started with George Takei about 8 years ago.
I was tired of the political divisiveness in our country, and I was
relieved to see so many of my friends stand up on stage with George Takei to
get their picture taken with the ERG. I
found my people! I came out as an Ally
at work. I participated in the “It Gets
Better” video project after getting permission from my brother to tell his
story. I met Sally Ride’s sister, Bear,
and told her about Chris as she signed her book for him.
Then, the unbearable happened. After a year-long illness with no insurance
and no diagnosis, my brother Chris died from AIDS related pneumonia. I transformed into an Activist. An Ally with a capital A. I’m no longer
satisfied to be the silent supporter. I will
speak up, get out and raise money; I will educate others. I will always fight for the LGBTQ community
and for each of us to live authentically and honestly. To be treated with fairness and as equals.
I want my LGBTQ friends and coworkers to feel safe. I want them to feel accepted. I want them to feel what I take for granted
every day – that they belong here and are valued for all that they bring to the
world. That is why I am an Ally.
Co-Chair, Emerge ERG/ COD Resource Analyst
During my freshman year of high school, one of my best friends, Paul,
was outed. He instantly lost friends and was treated differently. I was the one
to tell him that he had been outed.
A few years later, my sister came out as a lesbian.
In college, my best friend started to question his sexuality. We spoke
with Paul and worked through all the emotions.
Being open and accepting brought me closer to the most important people
in my life. I’m an ally because of them. Nobody should have to hide a piece of themselves
to feel accepted.
EV3 - Human Interface - Pathways
As no movement can succeed without the support of its allies, the
LGBTQ+ community cannot win its fight for rights without the support of allies.
Only when we understand the importance of acceptance, equality, and mutual
respect, will we be able to win this fight. Being an ally allows me to support
fixing a problem that doesn’t affect me personally, and I believe that
encourages others to do the same. Understanding that it only takes one person
to make someone feel uncomfortable with who they are, we need to recognize that
it also takes one person to make them feel the exact opposite - so be that
person. Be a listener. Be an accepter. Be a supporter. Be an Ally!
Safety Engineer, Flight
Operations Safety Office
I’ve never seen a beautiful travel destination and thought “is it safe
for me to go there with my partner?”
I’ve never kissed a significant other in public and even considered the
possible reaction of strangers.
I’ve never been in a work setting in which I needed to read the room
before talking about a weekend with my partner because I wasn’t sure how my
coworkers would respond.
I’ve never been cautious of talking about the sex/gender of those I
date because my employer is within his legal bounds to terminate my employment
based on his opinion of my sexual orientation.
I’ve never considered my ability to date, hold hands, kiss, live with,
or love whoever I want a freedom because it’s what I’ve always known.
But that isn’t the case for millions of people around the world. For
some, judgment, hatred, termination, and even death are possible consequences
of loving who they love.
That’s not a world I want to live in and that’s not a world anyone
should have to live in. That is why I am an ally. For as long as I can love who
I love I will continue to stand up for basic human rights so every human on
this planet has that same freedom.