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Wall Street CEO's and their gay sons.

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"I had one question: 'Are you happy?'" John Mack said when his son, Stephen, came out as gay.

"I thought about what we did in our family to make it so he didn't come out sooner," said Dan O'Connell about his son Jared.

"I reacted with fear and nervousness,"

From CNN, a look at how conservative 'old guy' CEO's have been forced to really deal with LGBT issues after their sons came out.


For me, this reinforces something I've always said, which is that progress on gay rights comes from personal experience. Knowing a gay person has been proven to improve the outlook on gay rights a whole lot in surveys.

And the positive feedback loop creates more and more personal relations with gays as the improving atmosphere leads to more people coming out. As Chris Rock said, 'Everybody got at least a gay cousin.'

This article really shows why, despite all the hate still extant in the world, I continue to be optimistic about gay rights. (And about CEO's too.)

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I'm also positive regarding the long term future of gay rights, for similar reasons. The article mentioned Wall Street as being a leader in LGBT rights for employees, but I'd have to say that I think the IT and banking industries wouldn't be too far off. I've worked for two large American multi-national IT companies and both had clearly stated policies regarding discrimination, and sexual orientation was explicitly listed as being a 'protected' status. Indeed, the anti-discrimination training course of one of them had an explicit example of discrimination against homosexuals as part of the training.

As part of my job, I've also worked as a contractor at two leading Australian banks. Both of them require their contractors to go through a set of mandatory training courses, and both them included sexual orientation as part of their anti-discrimination training. So that's four large companies here in Australia, all with very similar policies. I suspect it'll be true of the other large companies, too.

Of course, there's a difference between having a stated policy and active enforcement of that policy, but even there I've seen good signs. While I was at one of the banks, the leading social story on their internal website was about one of their employees coming out. It was featured as part of their internal ads, making it quite clear that the bank supported that employee. That's the most prominent I've seen, but there were signs at the other companies, too, that the policy wasn't just lip-service.

I see it as a positive feedback cycle. By making it more acceptable to be gay, more people come out. As more people come out, the personal level of contact educates more people about being gay and makes it more acceptable, encouraging even more to come out. In at least most major Western countries, that feedback cycle has taken hold and it's becoming more and more acceptable to be gay.

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