6 CIA Officers On Coming Out, McCarthy, and Gay Recruiting

The CIA may be defined by secrecy, but these days it encourages its LGBT officers to come out.

BY Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez

August 14 2014 4:00 AM ET

Kelly, 37, technical intelligence officer

Kelly joined the CIA in search of “something new and exciting” after working in the private sector. She was already out, but she was not aware of the CIA’s LGBT-inclusive atmosphere. She says it didn’t make a difference to her initially — this was a career move, nothing personal. But after seven years with the agency, Kelly says the CIA’s message of diversity permeates to employees.

”It sends a message to potential new applicants that the agency is a place that you can be yourself,” Kelly says, “and that is an important message to send because it’s good for morale. So, it’s really important for all types of diverse individuals including LGBT officers to know that their valued and supported.”

However, Kelly remembers one instance shortly after joining that made her second-guess the CIA’s message of inclusion. Despite having a very supportive friend and coworker, someone suggested that keeping her personal life to herself would be best for her career. This comment deterred her from joining ANGLE at first; her partner eventually convinced her to join.

“She had attended an orientation for spouses and partners and some of our ANGLE leaders had spoke at that orientation and had ended up talking to my partner,” Kelly says. “I joined ANGLE with the full support of my partner as well as my friend, who works here and I slowly became more and more involved and felt increasingly like I was part of a larger community at the CIA.”

 

 

Kyle, 26, counterterrorism analyst
Kyle was 23 and closeted when he first joined the agency, so his sexual orientation was not a factor when he was trying to decide where to work next. In fact, he says he knew little about the inclusion and diversity practices at the CIA.

Kyle, originally from the Midwest, felt the urge to join government work after the September 11, 2001 attacks. After working for different federal agencies and working with Congress, Kyle realized what he wanted to prevent terrorist attacks. That is when he considered the CIA.

“I didn’t actually have any ties to New York City or Washington, D.C.,” Kyle says, “but at the same time I think that those events kind of showed to me that our world isn’t inherently safe and our country wasn’t inherently safe.”

Since joining the agency, though, Kyle says there was the added bonus of working in an accepting environment, which eventually helped him come out. Kyle has since become involved with ANGLE, and he says he sees the group’s influence throughout the widening inclusion within the agency, both socially, and legally. He especially saw it after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and how that would affect LGBT federal employees.

“The agency was just very quick to respond to the ruling and really was effective in educating its employees about the impact of the DOMA decision,” he says.

Kyle says other agencies should follow suit with encouraging more diverse and inclusive staffs. He acknowledges that that sort of change requires a dual effort of changing at the top and grassroots-level involvement by employees. In any workplace, Kyle encourages leaders of both public and private offices to cultivate inclusive policies.

“What made me feel comfortable was walking down the halls [knowing] that I was supported by my peers and my colleagues,” Kyle says. “It was really an understanding that my peers here and that the policies, I guess, with the policies that the agency had set in place created a culture where my peers were actually affirming of me and that made it a lot easier to fully come out.”

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