By Samuel Brinton
I can’t tell you how frightening and yet terribly exciting it was for me to attend my first NuclearPride social in Chicago last summer. An amazing ally in the American Nuclear Society had shared a poster with me about a new group for LGBTQ nuclear engineers and their allies which was having a social hour at a local bar the next evening.
Walking into that room I was full of questions. How many people would show up? Was there only going to be allies? Were there really other LGBTQ nuclear engineers?
When I saw Katy I was terribly confused. You see, I had just seen Katy present her research in my session that day. We worked on very similar research topics and I knew she would recognize my face. She smiled at me. I was terrified at first because I didn’t know if she was at the bar with friends and would see me in the LGBTQ social hour. She invited me over to sit down and I would learn she had helped to organize the event. Waves of relief!
Katy wasn’t the only ANS colleague I would know at this social hour. With allies and friends we were joined by almost 20 individuals. Talk about empowerment! I was beaming with an instant sense of acceptance and support. I would finally be able to be myself in my professional society and this social was bringing together a community who wanted the nuclear science and engineering field to be supportive of all of its members and especially its LGBTQ family.
Our next social hour would be held in San Diego during the winter ANS meeting. Announcing the meeting during the student sections committee meeting was nerve-racking but the smiles and new faces that attended made it absolutely worth it. We were also joined by the QuEST (Queer Engineers, Scientists, and Technical Professionals) who shared their experiences with hosting similar events and outreach.
The collaboration of the queer nuclear world with the queer scientific community of San Diego was just the start. Our future events will work to be held with local organizations which support our mission of providing a safe and supportive community for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer in the nuclear engineering community.
As a young queer nuclear engineer I am blessed to be part of the NuclearPride community and can’t wait to see you at the next social event!