“Ultimately, It’s about Seeing People for Who They Are”

There’ve been tremendous strides in terms of acceptance of LGBTQ people both in the world and the workplace in just the past few years, Fred Hochberg ’75, chairman of the Export-Import Bank explains, but there’s still a ways to go.

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You know Barney Frank, Congressman Frank, always said that people came out, in those days, “retail” — like one at a time. You know, you didn’t come out on the front page of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

Like many, I came out retail.

It was a different era, in the 70s. I’ve often thought of it as PS-PA, Post-Stonewall, Pre-AIDS. There was that decade or so that was a very different time for being an openly gay person. And in the business world you came out when you found someone who would be accepting, or at least not hostile. And it was pretty hostile to be blunt.

I lived in New York City. I lived in Greenwich Village. I did business and moved my company to Virginia Beach, 10 miles from Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network. I had one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat, and those were two very different worlds I was trying to navigate, so to speak.

We’re constantly breaking down those barriers. People have a choice to rethink themselves or rethink their values. In more than half the states in this country you can still be fired for being openly gay or lesbian, that’s why I say we still a way to go. We have those steps to go through. And they’re all about ultimately getting acceptance and people understanding and seeing people for who they are.

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