WASHINGTON, July 02, 2015 —
Eric Fanning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter's chief of staff, spoke to Defense Intelligence Agency employees June 24 about the immense changes he’s seen in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender environment at the Defense Department over the past 20 years.
Visiting as a part of DIA’s Pride Month observance, Fanning addressed the differences between the environment in place when he came out and in today's Defense Department as well as on the importance of being “out” at work and the impact that has on culture.
When Fanning came out in 1993, he said he felt like the only gay man in the 25,000-person building. He said he knew there were others, but if you were in uniform, you couldn’t expose yourself as gay because you’d be discharged, and there were no other openly gay political appointees.
A Community of Support
While acknowledging there are challenges, Fanning said “there is a much larger community out there that is looking for opportunities to show its support of us -- that’s certainly been my experience as I’ve come out in my professional network, and it’s picking up steam,” Fanning said. “It’s gone from tolerance to acceptance to embrace.
“Today, there is a caucus there, and now there is support for all of us,” he said. “We have this community of support whenever we try to do anything or put ourselves forward.”
Fanning also noted how Pride Month celebrations within DoD have evolved as well.
“To walk through your lobby here and to see the displays you’ve put up and to see how it’s being embraced and celebrated is truly a remarkable experience for me,” Fanning said.