“Joe, do you have an interest in being one of next year’s co-presidents of PRIDE?”

“Umm, not really. It sounds very daunting, and I don’t think I am up for the task.”

“You’ll do great. Weren’t you on a nuclear submarine? It’s certainly not as hard as that. Why not put your name up for the job?”

“Umm, ok sure.”

A few days later I got an email that announced me as the next co-president of PRIDE, along with the fabulous Dr. Charlotte Lawson MD (MBA 2022). At first, I was very surprised and very nervous, but I soon smiled. This was a massive opportunity. How else could I make such a large impact on the PRIDE community at HBS?

Before coming to HBS I was a submarine officer in the US Navy. Submarines were my entire life. They consumed all my working hours and much of my social life too, since almost all my friends were fellow submariners. Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience. I learned so much about leadership, service, and sacrifice. Through the adversity, I made some lifelong friendships. But there was something that the Navy lacked: a community for LGBTQ+ individuals. There were no other “out” individuals on my all-male submarine of 120 sailors. I never even knew that I needed such a community until I got to HBS and became a part of PRIDE. It has changed my perspective on everything. It’s so important to be a part of a community that fully understands what it means for me to be gay.

PRIDE has been such an important part of my RC experience and an important part of the HBS community for 40 years. Think about it…PRIDE has been a part of HBS for 40 years! Since 1981! The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. It was not even legal for me to be openly gay in the Navy under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until 2012. Gay marriage was not widely legal in the US until 2015. Somehow, PRIDE was around in 1981. Amid discrimination and fear, queer people stood up and built a community at HBS. There is still so much left to fix globally (and even a little bit here at Harvard) when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, but the progress that has been achieved so far is due to the bravery, hard work, and dedication of those members that came before us.

With Section J at HBS

I am honored to take up that torch and keep moving the community forward. I know that I have massive shoes to fill, but I am still filled with hope. I have hope because of the leadership team that I am working with and the PRIDE community at HBS. It’s so exciting to think about what this next year will bring for PRIDE, for HBS, and for the whole world as we recover from the global pandemic. With the PRIDE community, it’s going to be fantastic. Who’s in?