Hay folks, a few weeks ago in class I mentioned a speech the executive director of the Trans Youth Support Network, Katie Burgess, gave at Quorum's National Coming Out Day Luncheon. In her speech, Katie spoke of the interrelatedness of oppressions and systems of violence, especially in regards to LGBTQ communities of color. Burgess called for LGBTQ organizations to hold corporate sponsors accountable for heterosexist, racist and classist policies. Focusing on a disconnect between the Human Rights Campaign's Award of 100% on their equality index to the National Coming Out Day Luncheon's largest sponsor, Cargill, and Cargill's exploitation of communities of color and the working poor in the "global south".
Following is a letter penned on behalf of the Board Director of Quorum:
To All of our Valued Luncheon Attendees:
A very anti-business speech was delivered at the National Coming Out Day
(NCOD) luncheon that attacked not only our presenting sponsor, Cargill,
but also all corporations, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and those who
work in business in general. This speech was not only completely against
the spirit of the luncheon but also against the principles of inclusion
that Quorum as an organization believes in. When we asked Katie Burgess to
speak at the NCOD luncheon this year, our intention was to increase
visibility and support for a small queer youth organization. As opposed to
bolstering support for the Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN), of which
she is the Executive Director, Ms. Burgess' speech was thoughtless,
divisive, and offensive. This is not at all what we anticipated and for
that we offer our most sincere apology. We would also like to make it
absolutely clear that the views expressed by Ms. Burgess do not, in any
way, represent the values and beliefs of Quorum.
Our corporate partners are integral to creating and maintaining diversity
in the GLBT and Allied business community. We believe that large scale
change, like that being initiated on the corporate level, has lasting
impact on the fabric of the GLBT and Allied community. The National Coming
Out Day Luncheon is supposed to be a day that celebrates this kind of
change. The luncheon that happened on Friday was an incredibly poor
representation of that and, as the host of the event, we accept full
responsibility. Going forward we will not only use a strengthened and
enhanced vetting process for all event speakers, including the requirement
of a signed contract, we will also be more thoughtful with our community
involvement. We hope that you can accept our sincerest apologies for not
appropriately and effectively representing our membership and the spirit
of NCOD. Although we did reach out to TYSN to request an apology for Ms.
Burgess' remarks, we received no response.
Thank you for your support of Twin Cities Quorum and for everything that
you do to support GLBT and Ally inclusion and empowerment in the
workplace, and in the community as a whole. We could not do the important
work that we do without your support and we look forward to moving past
this unfortunate incident and continuing the progress we have begun.
President, Quorum Board of Directors
on behalf of Quorum Board of Directors