Claire Geruson, BC ’13, interviewed for a position as a teacher at a Catholic elementary school in New Jersey a few years ago. When she told the interviewer that she was gay, the interviewer told her to never say that again. She secured the job, she said, but was never able to fully come out at that school.
Tuesday evening, a panel of five gay professionals, including Geruson, talked about their experiences and obstacles with being gay in their respective professions at an event hosted by the GLBTQ Leadership Council.
Geruson now works at a Boston Public School where her coworkers are much more accepting. She said that she does not tell her students that she is gay because she believes they are too young—they are only in elementary school. She admits that it is difficult, though, when they ask her if she has a boyfriend or a family.
But Geruson is now much happier because she works in an environment where most people are accepting of her sexual identity. And those who are not as understanding are never spiteful or mean, she said.
Andy Huang, who earned a graduate degree in finance from Northeastern, works at Deloitte LLP. He helps recruit for Deloitte, works with the internship programs, and serves as co-chair of the LGBTQ business group. He came out to his family his sophomore year of college.
“I think that being out has helped me with my career transition to my new role,” Huang said.
Michael J. Duttlinger, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he studied accounting, now works as a manager in the insurance practice at Ernest & Young (EY). He came out to his family when he was a junior in high school.
Duttlinger said that when he was in college, and then working at EY, there was no reason for him to be in the closet anymore. He helps lead some of the LGBTQ groups for those in the business world.
“And now I’ll pretty much walk into a conference room and wave a rainbow flag,” he said.
Geruson said she came out between her sophomore and junior year at BC. When she first began working in the Boston Public Schools, she was only out to a few of her coworkers. After working at a Catholic school for a year, she returned to Boston Public Schools and is again able to be fully out to her coworkers. Geruson now works at the College Success Academy as a fifth and sixth grade teacher.
Geruson said that she tries to explain to her students why it is wrong to call someone gay rather than just punishing them. She said, however, that not all of her co-workers are comfortable having those conversations with their students.
Michael Clinton, who works for Boston Globe Media, graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He was able to blend his passions for recruitment, and advertising when he received a job at Hill Holliday. Clinton remained there for six years where he oversaw the internship programs, led the campus recruitment and was involved in many different departments.
“There wasn’t very long that I was in the closet,” Clinton said.
He explained that Hill Holliday was very welcoming and accepting of his sexuality, with many agencies and groups set up for the prominent LGBT community. Clinton said that he came out to his family his sophomore year of college and slowly began to tell his friends about his sexuality.
Ron Peracchio, BC ’89, now works at the Harvard Business School. He attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as an undergraduate where he studied engineering. He first came out during his senior year of college.
When he graduated, he worked at Sporty’s Aircraft in Connecticut, but he found that the environment was not as welcoming. Even though he was not out, the racial and homophobic slurs that he heard on a daily basis bothered him. He realized that he could not stay there—he needed to make a change.
After many years of moving around after graduating from BC, Peracchio found himself at the Harvard Business School. He got involved in everything from sustainability groups to student services.
Peracchio said he first got involved in the LGBTQ community on campus when he realized how few of the students identified as LGBTQ. He wanted to change that. He created an admissions outreach day for LGBTQ students looking at Harvard Business School. He also began to work closely with the LGBTQ groups on campus. Peracchio was a career advisor at that point, and so he added to his profile that students could talk to him about being LGBTQ in the business world.
“I decided this is my time to sort of raise my hand and try and have an impact beyond myself,” he said.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff