Pride in the Sky
Vol.6 Issue 6
Celeste Flemming

For Celeste Flemming, the decision to join FAA GLOBE — the agency’s LGBTQ+ Employee Organization — was easy. For many other employees, that decision was much more difficult.

Flemming joined 25 years ago, and has been a strong advocate for transgender rights locally at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and nationally within the FAA. "It is so important that we are inclusive to attract talented people to join our mission," Celeste said.

FAA Employee, Celeste Flemming (L), receiving an award from the FAA’s LGBTQ+ employee organization, GLOBE.
Celeste with the ETVS (enhanced terminal voice switch) system at the FAA Academy.
Celeste Flemming (R) and Tyree McAfee (L), former GLOBE president and retired Air Traffic Controller, delivering a presentation on diversity as it applies to sexual orientation at Oklahoma City University.

"It was so difficult back in the 1990s for an LBGT person to self-identify, especially in Oklahoma," said Celeste, who has been an employee at Aeronautical Center for nearly 30 years. FAA GLOBE was a beacon for Flemming. She reflects, "Giving an employee a safe and supportive environment to be who they are is just something that comes naturally to me."

Finding a safe place to talk about their own identity has not been easy for FAA employees, however. Many employees met Celeste offsite, for fear of how coworkers or managers might respond to their "coming out." In the early days of GLOBE, discrimination and derogatory comments about the LGBT community were prevalent.

As a professional organization that is recognized by the FAA, GLOBE and its members act as advocates for equitable representation and opportunities in employment, development, and leadership. The purpose of GLOBE is to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender individuals.

LGBT Pride Month takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which happened at the end of June 1969 in New York City. The riots were a series of demonstrations by members of the gay community in response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.

"I and other GLOBE members have worked tirelessly to educate all employees on the contributions that those in the LGBT community make every day, but it was an uphill battle at first," said Celeste.

After the September 11th attacks, the Aeronautical Center was closed to all non-spouses of FAA employees. Celeste met with then-Center Director Lindy Ritz to get her to accept domestic partners.

"It was really a positive exchange, educating Lindy and other managers," said Celeste.

Today, Celeste manages the FAA Academy’s NAS Information Services Section and has helped develop training courses that teach employees about the workplace challenges that transgender individuals may face. "Developing that course was a wonderful experience, because we got to provide the framework for how the FAA addresses any issues that arise relating to transgender individuals in the workplace. There are so many things to be considered, especially within the parameters of any laws and FAA policies. But the best part is helping people become more accepting of others," said Celeste.

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