Philadelphia’s executive director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affairs said her job is to find commonalities that bring people together.
Amber Hikes educated employees at Naval Support Activity Philadelphia on the laws, issues and protections affecting Philadelphia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer community during a Pride Month program June 28.
Hikes described the LGBT Affairs Office as the eyes, ears and voice of this community in City Hall.
While explaining the complexities of sexual orientation and gender, in terms of identity, attraction and expression, Hikes provided appropriate terms to address LGBTQ individuals and offensive terms to avoid.
“Often we find that people aren’t trying to be rude, they just don’t have the information,” Hikes said. “So part of my job is anticipating that, going out and talking to people and having difficult conversations, and often just having educational conversations.”
The Defense Department observed June as LGBT Pride Month with the theme “Pride in All Who Serve.” The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support Equal Employment Advisory Committees hosted the program.
Navy Capt. Armen Kurdian, NAVSUP WSS engineering and product support director, discussed the progression of DOD Equal Employment Opportunity policy to protect service members and civilians against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“LGBT individuals in the DOD workforce help us ensure we embody what our country was built upon,” Kurdian said. “The idea that all people are created equal, and that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of all things that make us happy.”
Hikes described these same ideals locally, as the LGBTQ Affairs office implements policies based on values Philadelphia was founded on, including liberty and justice for all.
“I’m proud to say that Philadelphia is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the entire country,” she said.
Hikes discussed ways the office is supporting LGBTQ Philadelphians, including establishing committees to address civil rights, economic empowerment, and health and wellness.
The Jazz Feds, a musical ensemble of DLA Troop Support and NAVSUP WSS employees, also performed during the program.