DNI Clapper, FBI Director Comey and DIA Director Stewart salute LGBT Spies at the 2016 IC Pride Summit
On June 8, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey and DIA Director Vincent Stewart will address the Fifth Annual Intelligence Community Pride Summit, entitled “Count on Your Community.” The trio — who rarely together address one assembly outside the houses of Congress — will applaud LGBTA — A for Allies — officers for sharing their authentic selves at work each day, empowering the mission of each of the 17 elements of the Intelligence Community.
DNI Clapper — a self-proclaimed “intelligence geezer” whose own professional experience parallels Americans’ changing attitudes toward the LGBTA community — is expected to reflect on the evolution toward equality in the military and the Intelligence Community.
“When I spoke at this summit two years ago, I mentioned that I was serving in the Air Force when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was enacted… I am thankful that — as a nation — we have put that policy behind us… I won’t dwell on the issue of Transgender rights… I know our nation is currently engaged in a complex conversation… with strong feelings on both sides. But here in the IC, we have the chance to lead by example… So I’ll say without equivocation… in IC facilities… you can use whatever restroom you feel comfortable and safe in.”
Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart — who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, host to this year’s gathering — yesterday said, “This summit isn’t about a complicated, abstract idea. It’s about treating others as we would like to be treated: with dignity, respect and kindness.”
After the three keynote speakers, roughly 1,000 summit participants — in-person and via video teleconference from posts around the world — will take part in ‘breakout sessions” on five topics: “Seniors [senior officers] Helping Drive Change,” “LGBT Ally Training,” “Extended Enterprise Management: Getting Inclusive,” “Boots to Rainbow Suits: Successfully Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life” and “Building Trans Inclusivity.”
NSA Officer and IC Pride member Chris reflected on the significance of the summit, “Before joining the IC, I worked in the private sector and was proudly out. More than a decade ago, when I first joined the IC, the culture was still very conservative. I made a personal decision — driven mostly by fear — to go back into the closet. Since then, there has been incredible and tremendous positive change for LGBT employees in the IC — so much so, in fact, that it inspired me to ‘come out’ again a few years ago and become a change agent myself, continuing the work of those who pioneered such transformation before me.”
Chris’ decision to lead from within reflects the evolution of the environment within the IC. FBI Director Comey said yesterday in advance of the summit, “Diversity enriches not just the FBI, not just the Intelligence Community, but our country as a whole. We must foster an environment where all of our employees are respected, are encouraged to be who they are, and are afforded every opportunity to thrive.”
To learn more about America’s LGBT Spies, whose authentic leadership helps them thrive as public servants, see coverage of the IC’s panel at South by Southwest, “America’s LGBT Spies: Secret Agents of Change.”