Part 3 of SFGN’s 4-part series on LGBT in the CIA
The parade flowed along Ocean Drive in a festive theme. Shirtless men and bikini-clad women were everywhere. Temperatures climbed into the 80s. This was Miami Beach Gay Pride in a view from under a tent inside Lummus Park.
A tent sponsored by the CIA.
The intelligence agency joined the event last Saturday, setting up a table and handing out brochures about working for the nation. This was another effort by ANGLE, the LGBT employee resource group at the Central Intelligence Agency. Angle was created by Tracy, who identifies as a lesbian, in 1996. Tracy spoke with SFGN during the pride parade, watching carefully the activity around her.
Some of the chatter around the tent related to parade grand marshal, Mario Lopez and the straight actor’s selection to headline this annual gay event. Tracy, who works in the agency’s Directorate of Science & Technology, said it would be wrong to criticize Lopez’ inclusion.
“We should be accepting of all,” Tracy said.
Lopez is married to a Broadway actress, Courtney, and the couple have two small children. His story converged with that of more than 130,000 people who descended on Miami Beach last weekend.
The CIA tent and outreach efforts caught some off-guard, said Chris, an officer for the agency. Chris, a 40-year-old gay man, works at the CIA’s Center for Mission of Diversity and Inclusion. He joined Tracy and SFGN under the tent during Sunday’s parade day. Chris had recently returned from Oregon where he participated on a panel discussion, which featured a medical prodigy, who was developing a test for early cancer detection. Chris said he found the young man interesting.
“I’m a liaison to our recruiters,” he said. “My job is to establish a relationship for our national recruiter in the mid-Atlantic area.”
Chris said the agency looks for every skill set when making a hire.
“We have so many positions at the agency,” he said.
One of 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies, CIA is responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information to top U.S. government officials. Their presence at Miami Beach Gay Pride is the result of ANGLE. And just a few feet away, on Saturday, ANGLE saw its opposition.
Standing behind barricades, with police all around, protestors with bullhorns blasted Bible readings. It is usually part of the script at gay prides, although as LGBT life becomes more accepted in America, the protests have shrunk.
“They’re just looking for a reaction,” Tracy said.
For lesbians at CIA, Tracy said ANGLE provides support through meetings, conferences and field trips. She said she was particularly fond of the Pacific Northwest region of the country and remarked how Seattle had a naked cycling event and Washington was home to beautiful national parks.
The CIA’s display at Miami Beach Gay Pride was an effort to let the LGBT community know the federal government is accepting of LGBT people in the workplace and in hiring. This move to equality did not happen overnight, said Chris, but was assisted by previous generations.
“We have a lot of senior champions at the agency,” Chris said. “There has definitely been a change in the culture. Before, a lot of people, were scared to say they were gay.”
For the CIA, members of Angle are looking forward to the next Pride gathering. Chris said the Washington, D.C. parade is typically in the evening when cooler conditions make work all the better.