By Peggy Hayes, Dignity/Boston
When the U.S. State Department was organizing a visit to Boston by a delegation of leaders working for human rights for LGBTQ persons, they contacted Dignity/Boston. Would Dignity/Boston discuss social and cultural approaches to gender and sexual orientation identities in a diverse society, and share its strategies for addressing public policy issues from a faith perspective? Of course!
DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke and Dignity/Boston member Alvin Gomez met the delegation which represented Cabo Verde, Guyana, India, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, South Africa, and Turkey at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
One of the objectives of the delegation’s visit was to “observe how organizations monitor, influence, and advocate for human and civil rights policy at the local, state, national, and international levels,” so Marianne discussed DignityUSA’s mission and experience working on changing hearts, minds, and policy in the U.S. and internationally. And, Alvin shared his perspectives from growing up in the Philippines, and studying and working in the U.S., Sweden, and Canada.
“Even when I was young in my small town in the Philippines, I was interested in different cultures. I consider myself very lucky because I have lived in various countries, and so I have learned other people’s cultures first-hand. Meeting with LGBTQ rights advocates from different countries during the International Visitor Leadership Program meeting has been very inspirational to me. Although we have the same aspirations to attain equality, the cultural environment in some countries could create a more complicated picture as they journey to win their rights,” noted Alvin.
“I am very thankful to my predecessors and friends who fought to create equality here in the U.S., which is now my home. As our brothers and sisters from other countries come to learn from our experiences, I am reminded to not only treasure and care for what has been accomplished in this nation, but also to become an inspiration and even be a collaborator for others. I am grateful for Dignity and my spouse because it is best to reach our ambitions as a family.”
The International Visitor Leadership Program is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the U.S., current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the U.S. For more information, visit: https://eca.state.gov/ivlp