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LGBTQIA2S+ Inclusion in the Workplace: Creating Safe Space
"What amazes me is that the universe always hears me and places amazing visionaries in my path to collaborate and partner with."
By Joey Morelli
I am a Transgender Queer Man with an indigenous spirit who is a retired Law Enforcement Officer and 911 World Trade Center First Responder. While I was a Law Enforcement Officer, being transgender was still considered a psychological disorder, so I had to wait to fully transition until I was 54 years old. In my retirement I found my second career of being a writer, activist, public speaker and educator for all marginalized people, but especially for my transgender and non-binary siblings. It became my passion to help employers, church leaders and congregations, group facilitators and families to understand the importance of intersectionality and creating safe space for my siblings. I have learned to use different art forms to share our journeys so you can see us as human and we can recognize each others humanity. I am currently working on two projects. I wrote my transition journey story, which I will be one of many, for a Trans/Non-Binary Book organized by Family Diversity Projects and will be published in the fall by Skinner House. I also am a co-organizer for a Two Spirit photo/art show being showcased in New York, California and Chiapas, Mexico. I have lived a very private life up to this point so I am not on social media but many friends and colleagues are encouraging me to make that change. I am skeptical.
Happy Pride!! This year after two years of virtual gatherings millions of LGBTQIA2S+ folx and their allies will take it to the streets. Images of people marching, chanting and partying around the world will be posted on social media creating a sense of solidarity and oneness. For some it will be their first time to be seen, heard and affirmed. Marchers and spectators will feel the rush of electricity and passion of the day's events. They may even meet that special someone, at least for the weekend. Oh, what thrilling times and fond memories!!!
However, each of us will wake up on Monday morning, to return to work, school, family and the stark reality that past and current anti-LGBTQIA legislation and hate rhetoric continue to threaten our sense of security and violate our human dignity in every aspect of our lives. The conservative legislators and the religious right of this country passed 175 Bills in 32 states this year in an attempt to villainize and eradicate us. I know there is more coming and it breaks my heart. As a Trans Queer man who is an activist, public speaker, coach, writer, and educator I ask myself frequently what is my responsibility and role in offering hope, creating change and safe space for my siblings. What amazes me is that the universe always hears me and places amazing visionaries in my path to collaborate and partner with. Each of these visionaries understands the intersectionality of marginalized communities and is committed to creating human-human connection among all people. They use different art forms to share my siblings' stories to create visibility to ensure our seat at the table in all of the different communities we show up in.
One of these visionaries I met in March of 2021 was Shelley Armistead, CEO/Partner of the Gjelina Group, in Venice California. She called me to help create a welcoming environment and educate her restaurant staff on different aspects of the transgender/nonbinary community. Shelley and Lucy Cogswell-Stewart, Director of Operations for the Gjelina Group, and myself created a program called LGBTQIA2S+ Inclusion in the Workplace: Creating Safe Space. I along with two other trainers offered this education both in English and Spanish. We trained almost 400 staff members. The staff's willingness to share and positive attitudes helped facilitate much needed transparent conversation. I look forward to future collaborations with the Gjelina Group. Shelley in her brilliant intentionality introduced me to Mere Abrams and Anna Graham of Urbody, two more visionaries that I can only describe as extraordinary humans. Mere also plans to share their story in Gjournals for Pride, so please DO NOT miss it. I hope to bring Mere with their vast knowledge in on the training team at Gjelina. Please stay tuned as all 5 of us, Shelley, Lucy, Mere, Anna and myself collaborate to bring you an evening of transgender/nonbinary awareness in the fall of 2022 both in California and New York.
We are living in a time that demands us to recognize the intersectionality of all humans and the importance of accomplices/allies. Thank you, Shelley, Lucy, Anna and Mere for giving me hope and making me a better human.
Until we meet again, Stay Safe and Stand in Hope!!!!
- Jozeppi Angelo Morelli aka Joey, he/him/his