Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-11-15
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

LGBT attorneys talk of experiences
by Andrew Davis
2009-08-05

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


From left: Allen Orr, Brent Adams and M. Dru Levasseur. Photo by All Events Photography

Lawyers talked about their experiences in school and work in "The Gay Bar: LGBT Attorneys in the Profession," a forum held July 31 at the Hotel Intercontinental, 505 N. Michigan, as part of the American Bar Association's annual meeting.

The attorneys spoke as the ABA's Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, chaired by San Francisco attorney Jeffrey G. Gibson, presided over the event and listened intently to the experiences. ( Among the other commissioners present was the National Center for Lesbian Rights' Shannon Minter, who argued against Proposition 8 in front of the California Supreme Court. )

Immigration-law attorney Allen Orr of Baker & McKenzie talked about being African-American and gay. Orr, who went to historically black institutions Morehouse College and Howard School of Law, said that he learned that being Black and gay "are two separate minorities." In a testimonial, Orr wrote, "While the administration and professors were always available and wiling to lend support, I felt marginalized among the law students and the greater Howard community."

Orr talked about working with an investment bank in Virginia—a place where he did not feel welcome. "They started off each day with a prayer," he said. When he eventually ended up with the Washington, D.C., office of Baker & McKenzie, he said, " [ the firm ] didn't know what they were getting," as the audience laughed. Orr indicated that he made it quite clear from the start that he was gay.

He admitted that the firm has its challenges: "In order to have a breakthrough ... firms need to understand what diversity means."

Brent Adams, acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, talked about attending the New York School University of Law as well as working at the Chicago law firm Katten Muchin Roseman ( then known as Katten Muchin Zavis ) . Adams said that he was very out in law school and at work, serving as chair of the Bisexual Gay & Lesbian Law Students Association—commonly referred to as "Big Lisa." He received only one callback when he applied with ( mostly ) Chicago firms—from Katten—although he had no evidence that homophobia was involved in the lack of positive responses.

When he was at Katten, a hiring partner asked me where he was from, and Adams responded, "Oklahoma." He laughed and said, "Well you know they only raise two things in Oklahoma." ( For those who don't know, the answer to that saying is "steers and queers." ) Adams informed his own mentor about what happened, and the partner visited him the next day "to see how he was doing."

Adams said during the forum that his experience at the firm was very positive, overall. He added that " [ b ] eing out is one of the biggest political statements a person can make."

M. Dru Levasseur, staff attorney for Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., excelled in high school athletically ( as a star female competitor ) and academically. Levasseur came out as lesbian in college and "nine years and four schools later, I graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst," he said.

It was in law school that Levasseur realized his true gender identity, he said. "I started class presenting as a masculine-looking female—a butch lesbian—with the knowledge that my process was only beginning," he said. However, the road to the transition was not smooth. "When I came out to the lesbian and gay law students as transgender, I was not met with the welcome atmosphere that I had anticipated," Levasseur continued. "One student asked me invasive and inappropriate questions about my genitals. Another said, 'I just don't get it.' ... I quickly realized that the community that had once been my support no longer included me. I didn't know where to turn."

A particular low point occurred when "during my first year, as I walked from the parking lot towards the law school building, an SUV sped up towards me as if to hit me," he said. "I jumped out of the way just in time and turned to see three of my classmates, future attorneys, in the car, laughing. At the time, I was not immune to threats on my life based on my gender expression. I just didn't expect it at my law school." As one can imagine, the process of interviewing for a summer-associate position at a law firm was no bed of roses for Levasseur, either, as he related how one law-firm partner laughed at him while Levasseur explained what "transgender" meant.

Although Levasseur said that he loves his job, there were mixed feelings: "In the end, I took a position with an organization doing transgender civil-rights work. I enjoy the opportunity to do the work that is my passion, but I did feel like my career options were limited based on my gender identity and expression."

A question-and-answer session yielded interesting and honest replies. When a commissioner mentioned a lesbian co-worker who considers herself "Black, then a woman, then lesbian," Orr responded, "She got it right," and emphasized that a cultural divide still exists that calls for this hierarchy. When asked about the challenges of being in the public sector, Adams said that Illinoisans have many different viewpoints, and that even though he is successful at his job, he knows that some view him as the "openly gay guy." However, Adams added, he hasn't encountered workplace discrimination in terms of getting things done.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Dr. Kathleen Robbins appointed to IL Senate Task Force on Discrimination, Harassment 2017-11-19
Same-sex prep4love ads targeted by vandals 2017-11-19
HRC & Trans People of Color Coalition: Fatal violence against trans community rising 2017-11-17
Rally Nov. 16 for release of father with health issues from detention center 2017-11-16
Community groups to boycott the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday 2017-11-15
LGBTQ and HIV intimate partner violence report released 2017-11-15
Australians approve marriage equality 2017-11-15
Leadership Conference opposes Don Willett for 5 Circuit Court of Appeals 2017-11-14
Dining news: LGBT cooking party, Lawry's event, Thanksgiving items 2017-11-14
ACLU attorney Strangio discusses trans rights at UChicago event 2017-11-14
National roundup: Father kills son, Calif. education, Kenneth Cole situation 2017-11-14
EEOC cuts backlog 16%, labor union warns justice denied 2017-11-14
Advocates to court: Stop jailing people due to poverty 2017-11-14
HRC: New FBI hate-crimes statistics "harrowing" 2017-11-14
Chicago organizations expose ICE tactics, sue over agency secrecy 2017-11-13
Men use Grindr app to lure robbery victims 2017-11-12
Members of Congress Announce Amicus Brief in Key LGBTQ Rights Case 2017-11-10
Attny Gen Lisa Madigan opposes Tribune/Sinclair media merger 2017-11-10
Trans candidate discusses historic Virginia victory 2017-11-10
HRC scores Illinois companies' LGBTQ-inclusive workplace policies 2017-11-09
LGBTQ persecution reported in Azerbaijan, senators call on State Dept. to investigate 2017-11-09
Federal lawsuit blasts Chicago's destruction of homeless tent cities 2017-11-08
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, colleagues bring legislation for LGBT seniors services 2017-11-08
National roundup: Guilty convictions, Puerto Rico club, restroom signs 2017-11-07
World news: Apologies to gay men, activist stabbed, Taipei parade 2017-11-07
R3 Coalition-CHI event highlights building freedom cities 2017-11-07
Anti-Trump/Pence protest held in Loop 2017-11-06
Case of Kevin Clewer, murdered in 2004, focus of Nov. 11 Case Files Chicago 2017-11-04
HRC to Secretary Tillerson: Speak Out on Global Anti-LGBTQ Attacks 2017-11-03
National roundup: Cakeshop case, another trans murder, LGBTQ gun club 2017-10-31
LGBT legal event with ACLU's Strangio Nov. 7 2017-10-31
Supreme Court to look at Masterpiece Cake v. Colorado and, in a way, marriage 2017-10-31
Ill. AG files brief in Supreme Court baker bias case 2017-10-31
Nine civil rights groups file amicus brief in public accommodations SCOTUS case 2017-10-31
Joy Reid keynotes as hundreds gather in support of Personal PAC 2017-10-31
U.S. Congress Unanimously Condemns Anti-LGBTQ Violence In Chechnya, Trump Silent 2017-10-31
Global Surveys of Intersex and Trans Groups Reveal Critical Funding Gap 2017-10-31
Summit tackles hate crimes and community responses 2017-10-26
Anti-LGBTQ KY judge Mitchell Nance resigns 2017-10-26
Personal PAC to honor Bennett, Kaplan-Perkins 2017-10-25
 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.