This reflection on Pride Month in 2023 is from Agile Alliance Board Chair Heidi Musser
I am a human being, wife, daughter, niece, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, friend, neighbor, athlete, Board member, leader, executive, advisor, coach, sponsor, mentor, volunteer, and lesbian. Yep, I’m gay. I am what I am.
I am also Agile Alliance’s Board Chair, now in my sixth year of board service to the global Agile community.
Celebrating Pride Month since 1970
I have been celebrating Pride Month since it began in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Pride Month began as a celebration and commemoration of LGBTQ+ pride, where people could express their sexual identity. Many gains have been made in this journey of civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community over the past 50 years, including the fundamental right to marry guaranteed for same-sex couples. My wife of 33 years and I were legally married in Napa County in October 2008, just weeks before Prop 8 passed in California, placing us and 18,000 other same-sex couples in legal jeopardy until June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry.
And much work remains. I began my professional career in 1981, and I have been openly gay in every single job I’ve had. In fact, while serving as CIO for a financial services company in Texas, I told my boss in 2010 that if he ever wanted to fire me, it would be easiest for him to fire me just for being gay. Despite the US Supreme Court ruling in June 2020 that firing employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is sex discrimination that violates federal law. There are important contexts where sex discrimination is still legal under federal law: businesses open to the public and recipients of federal grants, like soup kitchens and drug treatment programs.
Agile2023 in Orlando
And then, there are states like Florida, where Agile2023 is being held in Orlando in July. Despite the significant progress our community has made, there is still no statewide law that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people in Florida. But make no mistake, this is bigger than Florida. As of April 2023, there are 67 countries where homosexuality is illegal. Yes, much progress has been made, but much work remains.
Late last year, a trans member of Agile Alliance reached out to me and asked, “What is Agile Alliance doing to ensure my safety should I travel to Florida for Agile2023?” I cried when this request came to my attention. I reached out to our member, and I listened to their concerns. As a leader, I have never felt so humbled and inadequate.
And then I remembered these words from my recent keynote at Agile in Chile, “We are ALL capable of becoming Agile, relentlessly focusing, listening to understand, acting with courage, and embracing this fundamentally different way of thinking and being. We are NOT powerless–we never really are. We ALWAYS have a choice.”
I have spent my entire life learning–sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly–the spiritual truth about change: it’s not what happens to us, it’s what we do with it.
This Pride Month, I choose to be brave, in the words of Amanda Gorman, “For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” I choose to show up. I choose kindness. I choose love and tolerance for others. I choose compassion. I choose to use my voice for change. I choose to #sittotakeastand for DEI&B in the Agile community. I choose to live out and proud!
Proud to be part of the Agile community
I am so proud to be a member of the Agile community. I am so grateful that the very first lesson I learned about technology over 40 years ago is that people are more important than technology. I am so grateful for being introduced to Agile values and principles over 25 years ago, and that I’ve had the willingness to embrace change. I am so grateful that Agile Alliance has been creating safe spaces for us to come together to uncover better ways of doing things and help others to do it.
I look forward to meeting many of you next month in Orlando. Please join me Tuesday evening at the Agile Together session at Agile2023 where we will together #sittotakeastand for DEI&B in the Agile community. Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us in March 1968, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Change takes a long time, but it does happen. Are you willing to embrace change?
#Pride2023 #IAmWhatIAm #JustSayGay #WeAreAllInThisTogether #loveconquerseverything