This week I am super pleased to introduce you to the newest member of our Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office, Bradley Deckert, as he authors his first Gender Agenda blog. As the Irish member of the team, I may have a bias, but I just love the landmark event, people and location Bradley selected to focus on in his first blog…….
I hope you enjoy it too!
Hi, I’m Bradley, and here’s a bit about me. I started working with Dale and Aoife in September, prior to which I spent 11 years with our US firm supporting many wonderful diversity and leadership development initiatives and leading our LGBT inclusion initiatives. I love to travel, read, grow orchids and spoil my Siamese cats.
I am also gay and followed with interest Ireland’s historic vote to amend their constitution to allow same sex marriage this past weekend. What has surprised me however as I reflect on this event is the very strong emotional response it has stirred in me, which I believe stems from the fact I feel I have recently developed this strong connection to the Irish people.
In March I travelled to Dublin for the very first time to attend Aoife’s wedding and memories of my Irish experience remain vividly fresh in my mind (not to mention the experience of an Irish wedding - something I will have to share at another time!).
From the moment I stepped off of the plane from Paris and waited patiently while the immigration official finished a casual conversation with a colleague, I noticed how deeply caring the Irish people are. I observed this again and again, after the sincerely friendly taxi driver, the warm welcome at the hotel, finding myself lost and getting step-by-step directions from the local I asked for help, pub barmen and servers who were just all so concerned that I have the best of experiences, and the wonderful crowd at The George, my new favourite gay pub, who all made me feel so comfortable in their country.
I noticed this at Aoife's wedding as well; while typically I feel weddings are all about the bride and groom, and rightly so, this wedding was also focused on the guests' experience - what music would we like to hear, well thought out seating charts, family members looking for me so they could meet one of the few Americans who made the trip for this experience. The Irish people I met were truly caring, friendly, and wonderful people.
In recent weeks, as I heard the news and followed the stories about the 22 May election to allow same sex marriage in Ireland, I thought, surely all these amazing people I experienced won't vote no? This is a country with people who truly care for other human beings, no matter what, so they have to vote in favour of it! However, after experiencing decades of defeat and also some great wins in LGBT equality in the US, my typically optimistic-self took on a more guarded, cautiously optimistic view on what would happen in Ireland.
But I felt my optimism start to bubble when on vote day Aoife sent Dale and me an email that literally said,
"I need to leave a little early today so I can collect my voting card from my Mum’s house. Today is a really important day in Ireland as we have our referendum on same-sex marriage. But it is not just historic here in Ireland it is historic globally - as we are the first country in which this civil right would be passed based on what the electorate votes ... and I really want to make sure I cast my yes vote."
Well Ireland resoundingly voted yes and made history as the first country to legalise gay marriage based on popular vote.
Thank you, Aoife, and thank you, Ireland, for having my back, and for supporting millions of LGBT humans around the world, you made me so happy this weekend and my connection to you is so much stronger because of this. I look forward to returning to your green shores very soon and I look forward to the rest of the world taking heed and learning from what Ireland has achieved.