Gays At Work...In Closet
NPR, July 7, 2011
Almost half of college-educated professionals who identify as LGBT are not open about their sexual orientation at work. That's according to a recent study from the Center for Work-Life Policy. Host Michel Martin explores why that's the case with Brian McNaught, a corporate diversity consultant, and Karen Sumberg of the Center for Work-Life Policy.
Why gays should come out at work
On CNN.com, June 29, 2011
The CFO of a major bank pulled me aside awhile ago to ask my advice on how she should talk to a favorite, closeted, gay senior manager about his homosexuality. The secret he kept made it difficult for her to speak with him comfortably about their outside lives on things such as weekend and holiday plans.
I suggested that she sit with him privately, and say, with confidence and warmth, "You know, Tom, we've been friends for some time, and I've shared a good deal about myself and my family with you, but I feel I know very little about you. Is there anything that I'm doing that makes it difficult for you to talk with me?" She happily reported to me on my return visit that all went very well. He came out to her with relief and gratitude, but chose not to come out further to his peers.
Brian McNaught and Ray Struble Historic Artifacts
The following items from the thirty-six year collection of Brian McNaught and Ray Struble are being donated to the Stonewall Museum in Ft. Lauderdale. These items are from their home in Ft. Lauderdale. (Other items kept in their home in Provincetown, MA, are also being donated to the Museum.)
Brian McNaught Knows The Song He Was Taught
By Father Tony, February 22, 2010, The Bilerico Project
The soft trickle of water fountains, the scent of a pungent simmering stew, the glow of oil paintings in the Cape Cod style and the warm embrace of two handsome men of a certain age will envelop you upon entering the gates of the gracious and elegant Fort Lauderdale residence of Brian McNaught and his husband Ray Struble.
Although Brian was the focus of this particular visit, distinguishing him from his spouse is difficult given their identical heads of enviably thick salt and pepper hair that partially explain the title of the sixth and newest of Brian's books, Are You Guys Brothers?
Their similarities go much deeper and contain startling revelations, given the peaceful and comfortable life they share today. Both were altar boys drawn to Catholic religious vocations in a church that rejected them. Both were victims of childhood sexual abuse. Both have parted ways with alcohol and drugs. Both have attempted suicide. Both are now highly respected and prosperous professionals. Their shared life of thirty-two years, described in unusually frank detail by Brian in his books and trainings, is remarkably inspiring. From the sidewalks outside their homes here and in Provincetown, you would see only their financial success, but once inside the warmth of their hospitality, you learn that what they now enjoy has been hard earned and are reminded that the lives of the men around us are not always as they seem.
Are You Guys Brothers? Book Review
By Richard Labonte, November 17, 2008, Q Syndicate
After a career of advising gay men on how to live their lives, in books like On Being Gay and Now That I'm Out, What Do I Do?, McNaught turns inward with this gracious memoir about his decades with husband Ray Struble (they met in Boston in 1976, married in Canada in 2003). Its candor is always refreshing, sometimes startling: he's remarkably open about the scant role sex now plays in his loving relationship with Struble, for health reasons, and defiant in recounting his enduring friendship with imprisoned priest Paul Shanley, convicted of raping a youth after the now-adult man who accused him claimed he had recovered repressed memories. That honesty is all the more reason to relish McNaught's bravura in setting himself up as a role model for gay Americans: the how-to advice of his earlier writing is backed up by real experience, some of it grievously painful, much of it hard-learned, all of it leading to his fulfillment as a contented gay man settling into a serene seventh decade.
The Closet as Security Risk
By Neal Broverman From The Advocate October 21, 2008
Visitors to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., have to pass through three security gates to enter the premises. Should they need to use the restroom inside, an escort must accompany them to the latrine.
Not only did Brian McNaught have to face this foreboding environment, he had to stand up in front of 600 employees of the NSA—the country's cryptography and wiretapping agency—and convince them that making gay jokes hurts their organization.
McNaught earns a living lecturing to companies on how to foster safe environments for LGBT employees. Over the past 34 years he's spoken to dozens of Fortune 500 companies, but when he visited the NSA in June, it was the first time he lectured to people in fatigues.
"The remarkable thing," McNaught says, "is you have the NSA bringing a gay speaker to an organization in which half of its employees are civilians and half operate under 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
When the NSA's director of diversity invited him to speak, McNaught said he would do so only if all top-level managers—civilian and military—were required to attend. He got his wish. All senior executives, including NSA deputy director John Inglis, were on hand.
Before the lecture, McNaught had lunch with Inglis, who made it clear the agency welcomes gay civilian employees—but they must be out.
"Being closeted can turn someone into a blackmail target," McNaught says. "The NSA is worried whether someone with access to national secrets has anything an enemy of the United States could use against them." Knowing that, McNaught used his presentation to stress the importance of putting gay employees at ease—no jokes, no gossip—so that coming out isn't an issue.
How was he received? "After a three-hour presentation," McNaught says, "I got a standing ovation."
'Our freedom to become whole comes at the price of letting go of our expectations,...'
By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) August 12, 2008
'...even one as seemingly noble as making everyone happy.' This phrase in many ways brings together the messages of this well-written, very inspiring book by Brian McNaught—part memoir about his thirty-two year successful same sex relationship with his life partner and now spouse Ray Struble, part considered evaluation of the historical developments during that time frame, and part warmly and genuinely mentoring for all ages of all people whose lives seem at odds with the 'norm.' It is a valuable adjunct to Human Sexuality Studies: it is also a keenly interesting book that captures the joys and trials of growing and caring relationships that makes the content read like a novel!
McNaught is an openly gay activist whose writings and speaking engagements are becoming popular with the large corporations seeking employee and executive enlightenment: Struble is a retired, successful Wall Street investment broker who endured the closet of hidden personal life at the other end of the spectrum. ARE YOU GUYS BROTHERS? follows the relationship from the beginning to the present and with the development of an ever tighter bonding are the accompanying ups and downs that mirror our society's evolving concept of same sex partnerships. Both men are from the 'solid Midwest', both were raised in large families, both were strongly devout Catholics, both sustained childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism and substance abuse, and suicide attempts—all tied in with their coming to grips with their sexuality. The story of these rocks in the road is not unlike the changes that have occurred in the Catholic church, the White House, and the hardships of family and friend lack of acceptance of the gay lifestyle—even from fellow gay people who consider their committed union on the edge of normal! We gradually learn how these two men lost faith in the church, in their government, and in the persistence of 'radical right'. But instead of this book being a diatribe against all the barriers that challenged the two men's rights to happiness, it is instead a celebration of the individual spirit in overcoming odds to find a life of freedom and joy and spiritual bliss. Together they discover that with the loss of church and government promises and some family intolerances their definition of 'friends' has changed. 'Friends...are people with whom you feel safe and valued. Friends support you, and affirm you, and fight against anything and anyone that might threaten you.'
Aside from being a socio/politico/spiritual journey of change and growth, this book contains some of the most gentle, tender, and touching pages of how this universe can once again be beautiful in the eyes of those whose lives have been struggles against hypocrisy and prejudice. McNaught becomes a poet in the final chapters. 'We have wounds from the hurtful things that have been said and done to us by people who were horrified by, or jealous of, our same sex intimacy. But we have also been helped along the way by family members, neighbors, and people of faith, by colleagues, and by friends....It takes a long time to make something "real". Finally we have a book that is so well written and so broad in its analysis of contemporary life in this country—from issues of youth to issues of aging—that it should become a resource for people of all walks of life. It is a book about respect.
Are You Guys Brothers?
By Ken Tasho (EDGE Contributor) August 8, 2008
When asked by straight people the inevitable question Are You Guys Brothers?, author Brian McNaught laughs it off and tells people that his look-alike partner is actually his spouse. Things weren't always so genial when asked the question in the past. In McNaught's account of his relationship with Ray Struble there are discussions of sexual abuse, alcoholism, and spirituality.
Most chapters in the highly recommended "Are You Guys Brothers?" are broken out into McNaught's ideas on various topics, from religion, safe sex, aging gay men, and his feelings for his life-long partner Ray. In one of the more intriguing segments, McNaught talks about homosexual men vs. gay men. Is there a difference? McNaught believes so and it may make you think twice when he talks about two similar terms he suggests have very different definitions.
Growing up in conservative families has made Brian and Ray resilient about their relationship. Brutal honesty is a feature of the book and McNaught is upfront about his and Ray's sex life, even bringing up a brief 3-way relationship they were in. However, he doesn't dwell on such life experiences.
The themes in "Are You Guys Brothers?" are universal and can be used as a guide for both single gays looking for some insight on relationships and those already partnered but in need of a boost. One hopes the straight world reads McNaught's memoir and sees that we're not all monsters and we do all really want to be loved.
McNaught gives us single gay guys hope that there is a soul mate out there for all of us.
More Programs Move to Halt Bias Against Gays, Chubb, Other Employers Train Managers on How To Foster Inclusiveness
By Sarah E. Needleman – The Wall Street Journal (November 26, 2007)
Valorie Gilmore, a specialty-insurance manager at Chubb Corp., was meeting with a client two months ago when participants began discussing a local women's basketball team. One person blurted, "You mean the lady lesbians?" Ms. Gilmore recalls.
"Let's not go down that road," Ms. Gilmore quickly replied. She says she felt compelled to speak "to set the right example here at Chubb in the way we conduct business."
Ms. Gilmore later attended a training program for Chubb managers on dealing with bias against gays in the workplace and learned that she'd acted appropriately. "You want to redirect the conversation to make it clear you are uncomfortable with it," says Kevin Hannan, a senior performance specialist at the insurer who helped start and design the training.
Corporate Diversity on DVD
By Christopher Lisotta – The Advocate (March 13, 2007)
For 33 years Brian McNaught has been training corporate executives and the general public how to handles gay and transgender issues in the workplace. The author of four books, McNaught, who himself was once fired for being gay, has become one of the most sought-after corporate trainers in the world. But the intense amount of travel was wearing heavy on McNaught, so he decided to offer his gay diversity training through a four-part DVD series that seeks to build bridges of understanding at work.
Intelligence Agency Touts Diversity as Boon to Security
Nathaniel Frank, Senior Research Fellow, The Palm Center, University of California, Santa Barbara (August 19, 2008)
The National Security Agency (NSA) recently hosted a corporate diversity trainer well-known for his work with Fortune 500 companies that want to appeal to gay and lesbian workers and consumers. Brian McNaught, an author, speaker and trainer, was the invited guest of Deputy Director John C. Inglis, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the agency's gay employee network, GLOBE. McNaught addressed over 600 managers and employees of the NSA in an effort to help the agency create a welcoming work climate that values diversity as both an end in itself and as a tool to optimize workplace productivity and effectiveness.
While uniformed personnel are subject to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from disclosing their sexual identity, civilians in intelligence organizations are not, allowing them the freedom to discuss their experiences, concerns, and the progress that has been made from the days of hostility to gays and lesbians in intelligence. And the agencies are now joining their competitors in corporate America in their efforts to attract and retain the best talent available.
"I was very impressed with the commitment of senior managers to create a productive work environment for gay and transgender employees," said McNaught, who received two standing ovations at the agency, "and by the response of managers and all employees to the messages I conveyed. Had there not been people in military uniform, I could have thought I was speaking to any of my global corporate clients."
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a think tank that studies gay service at University of California, Santa Barbara, said McNaught's appearance and warm reception reflects an understanding at intelligence agencies that sexual diversity and transparency are strengths, not weaknesses. "The agencies now understand that the way to have the best workforce possible is to hire based on merit and to recruit from all sectors of society rather than to make arbitrary distinctions that cut the workforce off from the strongest candidates," said Belkin.
Consistent with research on the topic, McNaught said the NSA had realized that perpetuating the closet for gays and lesbians was counterproductive and could actually create the security risk it was supposed to mitigate. "People made it very clear to me that you can be gay at the NSA but they don't want you to be in the closet," said McNaught. "If you just tell them anything that might be used against you, no one will be able to use it against you." He added that those who are out often feel most positive about the climate, and enjoy honest relationships with their colleagues.
Although the military maintains a ban on openly gay service by uniformed personnel, military and intelligence operations have blended so thoroughly in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that intelligence officers often find themselves involved in combat or combat support. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, the New York Times reported that "never before have the traditionally independent military and law enforcement organizations worked so much in concert." Indeed, many of the highly specialized agents who began conducting logistical, training and intelligence support in Afghanistan after 9/11 were not uniformed soldiers. The most highly publicized of these was Johnny Michael Spann, a 32-year-old CIA officer who became the first American casualty since the U.S. began its bombing campaign of Afghanistan in 2001.
McNaught, who is the author of the recently published Are You Guys Brothers? (available at www.brian-mcnaught.com), said that in some ways the military is a better candidate for switching to a policy of equal treatment than intelligence agencies were. "Civilians don't necessarily follow orders as readily, and can need more convincing. In the military," he said, "they follow orders."
One-time Catholic columnist now pioneer for gays in workplace
By Renée LaReau – National Catholic Reporter
It is the end of the workday at a Manhattan-based corporation, and nearly 100 senior-level investment bankers and managers drift into a posh meeting room for an after-hours presentation. Hints of trepidation and curiosity fill the air as well-dressed men and women take their seats, many of them paging through the paperback book that has been placed on each of their chairs. They look expectantly toward the front of the room as guest speaker Brian McNaught introduces himself, promising strategies to help the company improve its productivity and retain the best and brightest personnel. McNaught, however, begins his workshop with a surprising confession. "I know nothing about finance," he said. While McNaught may know nothing about finance, he knows more than a thing or two about how workplace dynamics affect a corporation's productivity, specifically, the interpersonal dynamics between coworkers with diverse sexual orientations.
Fort Lauderdale man has become 'godfather of gay diversity'
By Margo Harakas – Staff Writer for Sun-Sentinel
He was a good kid, a mother's dream—altar boy, patrol boy, Boy Scout, athlete, senior class president, recipient of his high school's Christian Leadership Award. The middle of seven children in an Irish-Catholic, Detroit family, Brian McNaught's overriding ambition as a small boy was to be God's best friend.
But in 1974, then a 26-year-old Catholic newspaper columnist and cable TV talk show host, McNaught drank a bottle of paint thinner, downed a vial of pills and sat down to die. "I'm going home to God," he thought. He'd be free at last from the pain of pretending to be someone he could not be.