For Immediate Release
June 28, 2012
In June, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Allies in the Workplace group celebrated its inaugural observance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month with several events to generate awareness and educate staff about LGBT issues. Allies in the Workplace, a social networking and advocacy group for the Lab’s LGBT employees and supporters, formed in August 2011.
Allies’ Pride Month kickoff event, held June 11, featured performances by comedian and television personality Scott Nevins from truTV’s “The Smoking Gun Presents” and APL’s own internationally known lyricist, producer and hip-hop artist Ashley “SoulStice” Llorens. Nevins presented LGBT-themed comedic material, followed by an original song performed by SoulStice showing support for same-sex marriage. “My wife and I are proud allies and advocates for the LGBT community,“ says Llorens. Information booths providing resources for LGBT staff members, allies, and parents of LGBT children were also part of the event.
APL Director Ralph Semmel delivered remarks and introduced the performers to more than 200 attendees, including members of the Maryland State Legislature, Senator Allan Kittleman and Delegate Anne Kaiser. “The foundation of APL’s success has always been the diversity and resourcefulness of our staff,” says Semmel. “We are proud to celebrate Pride Month with the LGBT community and its supporters at the Lab.”
Linda Kress, a systems engineer in APL’s Air and Missile Defense Department and president of Allies in the Workplace, says: “It is an exciting time for APL’s Allies in the Workplace and the LGBT community—we are celebrating our inaugural Pride Month at the same time that the Pentagon is observing it for the first time.”
In addition to the kickoff celebration, the Lab held two panel discussions. On June 18, “Being an Openly Gay Professional” helped APL staff learn about the experiences of being an openly LGBT professional in the science and engineering fields and featured speakers from the Johns Hopkins community. Panel members included Michael Falk, associate professor in Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, advisor to LGBT graduate students and the undergraduate Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance; Sam Bourne, Biomedical Engineering academic program administrator; Mike Bernard, Mechanical Engineering academic program administrator; and Morris Hunt, administrator, Department of Mathematics.
On June 25, a pair of speakers addressed the topic “Before and After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” examining its effects on gay and lesbian members of the United States military. Panel members included David McKean, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) legal director, and petty officer first class, Jeremy Johnson, a mass communications specialist (MC1(SW)) who was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and was the first to reenlist in the Navy Reserve after the policy was repealed.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.