Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interning at GLAD: A Chance to Learn From and Contribute to My Community

Guest Post by GLAD Summer Intern Michael Raleigh

On the first day of my internship at GLAD, I was greeted at the door by Eric Carreño, Operations Manager, who offered me a pastry from a silver tray. I knew instantly that the staff at GLAD is awe

This has been my first experience working at an office, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope any other office I may work at in the future will be modeled after this one. One empowering aspect of GLAD’s culture is the equality throughout the office. As an intern, I’ve never felt pushed aside, and I never feel that my voice is insignificant. I’ve been assigned very few “intern-y” tasks, and they are always quick, painless, and have some sort of positive impact. I never go home feeling that the work I’m doing as an intern at GLAD has no meaning.

I feel much more informed on issues that are very important to me. I understand the legal reasons why the Obama Administration isn’t defending DOMA; I have a deeper understanding of the adversity the LGBTQ community faces; I appreciate every victory of the Civil Rights movement more than before. I’ve also become more cynical about the United States of America’s willingness to afford equal rights to all of its citizens. Before coming to GLAD, I didn’t truly know what DOMA was. I knew it was an anti-gay law, but I didn’t know it forced the federal government to treat some legally married couples as if they had no connection to each other. I wasn’t aware that it was so blatantly discriminatory. In fact, in GLAD’s case Gill v. OPM Judge Tauro of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts ruled that Congress had no rational basis for the creation of DOMA.

A long-term project I took on in my first week at GLAD consisted of editing and updating a Spanish translation of the “Massachusetts Overview of Legal Issues For Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender People” publication. At times this has been an amusing experience, especially when trying to accurately render “foot-tapping” (à la Larry Craig) into Spanish. It has also been a very informative experience: I have had the opportunity to play with texts in multiple languages, and have realized that as much as I love it, I want to try active interpretation because it requires communicating with other human beings.

Speaking of communicating with other human beings: when Bruce Bell, InfoLine Manager, asked me if I would work on the Legal InfoLine, I had many initial reservations. Because I didn’t understand what the InfoLine was, I thought it would be boring and menial; however, when I worked up the courage to take a phone call, I absolutely fell in love with it. The InfoLine is one way I can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives, even though I will likely never meet them. It’s truly amazing to have such an impact in such a short amount of time.

My other big project has been working alongside another intern, Andy Vo, on preparing materials for an upcoming high school GSA leadership conference (16-18 August) at UMASS Amherst. Having just graduated from high school, both Andy and I are very connected to students’ rights issues, so the opportunity to work on a project that was so close to our own experiences was incredible. We learned a ton about the legislation and case law that relates to the rights of students. From this information we created a brochure publication for MA students, designed a button, helped design the blue wrist bands people are wearing in the office (see below), stuffed goodie bags for the GSA leaders, and helped Vickie Henry, Senior Staff Attorney, create a slideshow presentation as well as a timeline of LGBTQ student rights for her presentation at the conference.

GLAD has provided me with opportunities to learn from and contribute to my community in a positive, meaningful, and enduring way. For that, I am forever grateful.


Robbie Samuels said...

Thank you Mike! Your contributions to GLAD this summer are numerous and as Special Events Manager I particularly appreciated your willingness to pitch in wherever needed - including prior to and at events. Good luck next year and hopefully we'll see you soon!

Hana Tauber said...

Thank you, Mike, for all of the love and energy you put into these projects at GLAD. Your discipline with the translations was admirable. Lots of luck in your future projects. May you continue to find ways of challenging injustice around you!

Steph/TJ Scanlon said...

I was at the UMASS Amherst Camp this past summer! It was so amazing and there are so many people who see my Got LGBTQ Rights? Bracelet and want it! I wish i had a way to buy them or get them for my school's GSA to hand out. I found this post while googling the bracelets actually. Thank you so much for your work on the UMASS Amherst Camp, it went amazingly and I adored the legal workshop. (and getting to do a role play for Vickie!)

GLAD said...

Thanks Steph! We had a great time at the UMASS Amherst camp - a really impressive group of students! We'd be happy to send you more bracelets for your GSA to hand out. Either give us a call at 617-426-1350 or email us at gladlaw at (ask for Amanda)and we will make arrangements.