Celebrating Military Service and Full Self Expression at Booz Allen: How Two LGBTQ+ Employees Bring Their Full Selves to Work

Jul 1, 2020 8:00 AM ET

“I am not only a member of the Armed Forces. I am a son, a brother, a friend, a member of my community, African American, and proudly gay.” -Booz Allen Senior Business Performance Analyst William Pickens 

For many of Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ employees, military service is another important part of their identity.  Founded by a veteran and with veterans representing one-third of its employees, Booz Allen proudly supports its LGBTQ+ military employees—this Pride month and every month. Two of their stories follow.

Celebrating service—and full self-expression

Senior Business Performance Analyst William Pickens began his military service before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” when out LGBTQ servicemembers could not serve openly.  

When he was interviewing for a job in the private sector, he said, “I knew that I never wanted to work in an organization where all of me was not welcomed.”

At Booz Allen, Pickens found a welcoming LGBTQ+ culture and plentiful opportunities to get involved and give back. This year, he reached his 30th anniversary with the Army Reserves and is approaching his third with Booz Allen. 

“Service to support something bigger then myself is very important to me. What is of equal importance is being able to enjoy the full expression of myself,” he said. “The pride I feel in uniform is equally matched by the pride I feel wearing my ‘People, Purpose, Passion’ t-shirt as a member of GLOBE+ in support of our greater LGBTQ+ community.” 

Finding—and building—a community in San Diego

Aaron Brunelle joined Booz Allen’s San Diego office in 2016 after 20 years in the Navy and described himself as “reserved and hesitant” about sharing his orientation openly at work.

A conversation with Abraham De La Cruz, 2016 GLOBE co-chair, led to a host of activities: attending both the GLOBE+ 20th anniversary party in DC and San Diego Pride, volunteering at Mama’s Kitchen at Thanksgiving, Human Rights Campaign bowling events, and more. “It was refreshing to find others being so accepting, supportive and friendly,” Brunelle said.

Today, Brunelle is co-chair of the GLOBE+ San Diego chapter and has big plans for the group: a booth and giveaways at the next San Diego Pride, integration with the firm’s larger Business Resource Group, a LGBTQ+ resume writing workshop, additional GLOBE+ member happy hours, and more. His goal: “to make everyone’s life a little bit easier.”

Working together in acceptance, resilience, and hope

To Brunelle, the theme of Booz Allen’s 2020 Pride celebration, “Pride Lives On,” means hope and acceptance. 
“It’s amazing how people of the straight community and gay community have come together to help fight against homophobia and have come to accept us for who we are,” he said. “We work together to help make a peaceful, more understanding community.” 
He explained that “diversity and inclusion are a must to overcome homophobia and racism against all people of different ethnicities, religions, sex, and culture.”
For Pickens, “One really special thing that I have enjoyed over the years is leveraging the comfort and peace that I have within my own skin as a neutralizer against intolerance.”
“Pride Lives On” for him represents “the tremendous resilience and endurance found in our community,” he said. “Our community has been challenged in unimaginable ways, yet through it all we never falter, we never give up, and we never stop fighting for our treasured truths. Through it all, our pride has simply lived on.”

Read more about diversity and inclusion and the GLOBE+ BRG at Booz Allen.