LGBTQ VETERANS AS MBAS: DEREK BAILEY – UCLA ANDERSON ’16
Tell us a bit about your background, work experience outside of service and future career interests.
I grew up in a military family, so I knew very early on in my childhood that I wanted to serve in the armed forces. I attended the University of Notre Dame on an ROTC scholarship, and after graduation, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Although I felt compelled to join the military, I never saw it as a long-term career decision. Rather, I saw it as an opportunity to give back to a country that has provided so much for me in terms of opportunity, security, and education. Once my active duty tour was complete, I was ready for a new challenge – business school was it for me.
While at Anderson, I’ve focused my studies on strategy and operations, specifically within the travel and hospitality space. This summer I worked at Delta Air Lines apart of the company’s commercial strategy group, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be returning full-time next year!
Were you out as you went through the business school application process? If so, in what ways? If not, at what point upon entering did you decide to come out?
Yes, I was completely out on my application. I had never been out in an academic/professional setting before the b-school application process, so it was a new and exciting experience for me. For the first time ever, I could be my authentic self without having to worry about how people would react.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience as being a member of the LGBTQ community while serving your country. How did DADT impact you (if at all) during your experience? How did culture change after it’s repeal?
I regrettably had very little interaction with the LGBTQ community when I served in the military. I was out to my family and close friends, and I had been dating my now-husband for three years, but none of my coworkers in the military knew that I was gay. I think me not being out in the workplace (even post-repeal) was a result of what I call the ‘unseen consequences of DADT’. What that law essentially did was force service members who identified as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual to lie about their sexual orientation and create a façade for when they interacted with other service members. When the law was eventually repealed, it was difficult for me to reconcile who I actually was as a person with who everyone saw me as at work. Because of this I made the decision to remain in the closet through the remainder of my active duty tour.
Although there was some push-back from high ranking military officials during the repeal of DADT, I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly and positively the military (specifically the younger ranks) reacted to this new reality. At least in my experiences in the military, I found that your worth and reputation are solely based on your ability to complete the mission at hand. Nobody cares about the color of your skin, your socioeconomic class, or even your sexual orientation – all they care about is whether or not you can maintain the military standard.
With all this said, the military is by no means a perfect organization, nor has it been perfect in its acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Just like with other parts of our society, the military deals with incidences of discrimination and marginalization almost on a daily basis. But given the maturity and professionalism of the young men and women who wear the uniform today, I am optimistic about the future of the LGBTQ community in the armed forces.
The comment has been made that as the US Armed Forces go [in terms of policy] so goes the rest of the nation. Do you think the repeal of DADT set us up for a lot of the progress we’ve been seeing in terms of national LGBTQ issues over the past 3 years?
I think to say that the repeal of DADT served as a catalyst for the recent progress of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. would discredit the hard work and dedication of the thousands of people in the private sector who worked for things like marriage equality. I believe that the repeal of DADT, along with other significant wins for the LGBTQ community, signal a shift in larger society – a shift towards acceptance and unity among people of differing backgrounds. It really is an exciting time to be apart of the LGBTQ community!
What advice do you have for LGBTQs currently serving their country that might one day consider going to graduate school of an MBA or business masters degree?
I would encourage them to apply to business school (admissions officers will love you)! Not only do they bring with them a unique perspective on life, but they also bring skills that are highly sought after in the recruiting process. I would also encourage them to leverage their diversity networks throughout their business school careers. Some of my closest friends are those that come from my LGBTQ and veteran networks.