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Books that Shaped Work in America

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Chad Griffin

Chad Griffin
President of the Human Rights Campaign

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have written—or been the subjects of—some of this country's greatest books—from poetry, to novels, to the essays and nonfiction that helped launch the LGBT equality movement. Specifically, LGBT authors have made an important and undeniable contribution to the way we view work and workplaces as inclusive institutions. Here are two such examples:

Brian McNaught, Gay Issues in the Workplace (1993). Today, in more than half the states in this country, you can still be fired from a job simply for being gay. Twenty years ago, when this book came out, that number was even larger—one of the many reasons why it was groundbreaking at the time. McNaught, a respected corporate consultant who The New York Times once called "the godfather of gay sensitivity training," tackled workplace issues ranging from coming out, to HIV/AIDS, to workplace harassment. Geared toward straight managers and human resources staff, Gay Issues in the Workplace quickly became the go-to resource for corporate diversity training, and the Human Rights Campaign distributed the book to Members of Congress shortly after it was published. In no small way, McNaught's book and subsequent work has helped countless LGBT individuals to live and work more openly on the job.

Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City (1978). Originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle, this collection of nine novels is centered on a group of friends living and working in San Francisco beginning in the mid-1970s. Tales of the City is one of the first popular portrayals that feature LGBT characters out at work—at an advertising agency, restaurant, hospital, garden center and a local television station. Through accessible stories featuring everyday people, Maupin showed readers that their LGBT co-workers were really no different from them, and a televised version of the stories brought that simple, but important message, to an even wider audience.

Chad Griffin is the President of the Human Rights Campaign.

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