Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I thought it would be appropriate to share during this season of thanks - some of my thanks.
I worked at Orlando Health for 2 1/2 years. I lived in Orlando for about 20 years. And I am gay. Much of my work in Orlando centered around fundraising and marketing. As the public face to different organizations I was often part of meetings or in groups with those who would identify as conservative. Often in these settings I would be nervous to speak my mind, interject with a criticism or let my hair down, so to speak and just be myself.
Since moving to New York and starting my graduate studies at New York University I have found a pressure I didn't even know was there dissipating. More and more I feel I am coming into my skin - caring less and less how I am perceived - and able to go about my daily life at work and school with less anxiety and more focus on what is important to me - getting the most of my very expensive, probably-will-never-be-able-to-pay-back education.
I am surrounded by supportive people - people who think the idea of not extending domestic partner benefits to Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Transgender, Bisexual unmarried employees in any setting is appalling. When I share with people the pressures I felt as a gay person working for Orlando Health they understand me. They know that any organization that does not stand on the side of all their employees is oppressing some of them for certain. The people I confront here don't understand why Orlando Health won't provide domestic partner benefits and further establish a diversity initiative where all employees have a voice. In 2009 they say such bigotry is ridiculous and is a clear sign something is wrong.
When I think of what a true commitment to diversity will bring to the whole Central Florida community - I don't understand either why it is so hard for Orlando Health to - just - change. All I can think now is - in doing so, Orlando Health would create an imbalance in benefits and opportunities hospitals provide in Central Florida causing employees from all hospitals to want to lobby for more voice in their organizations - which would probably lead to...
Yikes! What if all the leaders in healthcare in Central Florida had an unwritten agreement to not stray to far away from the status quo as to not give the common folk the idea that they have more power than they think they have at present?
In contrast, as we see the tide towards equality shifting among the common folk we see coalition building starting to happen in the Central Florida community. I'd like to give you the contact information for a leader who is committed to working with all who support initiatives like the petition encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent. His name is Paul Wilson. Paul is the president of the Central Florida AFL-CIO. He has been a great ally fighting for equality in the workplace. You can contact Paul confidentially to discuss how employees can have more voice in the workplace in all areas - not just those outlined in the petition.
Paul Wilson, President
Well, I said I was going to share some of what I am thankful for. Here goes:
I am thankful we are near the 200 mark in petition signers.
I am thankful I have a weight lifted from my shoulders as an out and proud gay man.
I am thankful that I am on the right side of history.
I am thankful for my loving family and friends who support equality.
And I am thankful that you are reading my words right now.
Have a wonderful weekend with those you love!
Alan L. Bounville
Former Orlando Health employee and current donor