Karl Lott Highlights the Beauty of Diversity and the Challenges the LGBTQ Community Faces
Holland & Knight's Diversity Council and LGBTQ Affinity Group were proud to celebrate Pride Month and engage in the conversation for equality and embrace our diverse community by coming together without exception and supporting everyone, including our LGBTQ colleagues. During Pride Month, we took time to reflect on how we could better support our LGBTQ colleagues by sitting down with attorneys and staff to have important conversations about what this month and embracing their identity means to them. We will be presenting a weekly video series showcasing some of these conversations. We hope that the stories conveyed in these videos help advance dialogue around Pride Month as well as lead to further discussions of how we can be better allies to our LGBTQ friends, family and colleagues.
In this video, Los Angeles and Century City Diversity Committee Chair and Diversity Council Member Karl J. Lott, a partner in our Los Angeles and Century City office, spoke about the beauty of diversity and the different challenges the LGBTQ has and continues to face. Mr. Lott also highlights the importance in staying true to yourself and being visible to effect change in today's society.
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Episode 2: Karl Lott Highlights the Beauty of Diversity and the Challenges the LGBTQ Community Faces (You are currently viewing Episode 2)
Karl Lott: Pride to me is a recognition of all the achievements that we as a community, I'm really proud that we have achieved throughout the years. When I started as a lawyer in 1990, long time ago, I probably shouldn't say how old I am, but that's fine. It was difficult. It was not a point where I felt that I needed to hide my identity, but being known as a gay lawyer in a big firm in 1990 made it really difficult because other lawyers, even though they didn't outwardly discriminate against me, they clearly were uncomfortable working with me. And so I was not given assignments because they didn't know how to work with me. I was not introduced to clients. I was not taken to events that other associates went to. So, it was hard. We had to fight. We really had to work hard to prove ourselves, as, you know, a competent attorney that they could rely on. Going from that early stage when I was a young associate to where we are today, where it's not only something that is irrelevant to your work, it's something that is seen as perhaps being a benefit to your work. You can use it for client relationships, business development, it brings a different perspective to some different issues that may be discussed in the office. It's been a huge progress and to me that's what I'm most proud of in my career anyway. I joined the affinity group when I got here, mainly because I wanted a support group of people who are in a similar situation. I quickly realized it was more than that. It wasn't just a personal support group. It was something where we would look at issues that face the firm from a different light than other people would and we would address them. And also being part of the affinity group. Since I'm chair of the local office committee in Los Angeles and Century City, I'm also on the Diversity council. And so being able to bring the perspective of the affinity group to the Diversity Council has been really meaningful and the Diversity Council has been very open and receptive to hearing our points of view. One thing I like to do is to go out to law schools and talk to the different affinity groups there. And so I've met with the Out Law groups, which is that's the affinity group at the law school. I met with them at UCLA and USC just sort of on an informal chat. I go on campus and meet with the affinity group to talk about what it means to practice in big law. And they always ask, "What's it like to be an out lawyer?" "What advice do you have for me?" And so what I always tell them is, "Be open, be open to who you are." It's not something to shy away from. It's something that, you know, could be a benefit to you, but recognize also that you are in a corporate environment. I never understand why people are opposed to diversity, because, I mean, come on, look at nature. You just look at birds. There are so many different kinds of birds, and we love that they're beautiful. There's, you know, big parrots and little sparrows and, we love that. And then you look at people and these people don't want any diversity. They want everyone to look and think and eat and act exactly the same. Like, how do we have that? I mean, there is so much beauty and diversity and it's just a matter of trying to get people to recognize that diversity is really beautiful. I hope that it's going to continue to be a situation where being gay, being a lesbian, being trans is just, "Do you have blue eyes?" "You have brown eyes?" "Are you blond?" "Are you brunet?" You know, it's just another feature. That people are not going to see it as a negative so that everyone can be completely honest about who they are, not only with other people, but with themselves as well. There was a time when I was in college and in law school where it was difficult. I didn't want to be a pioneer. I didn't I didn't see myself as that as a civil rights warrior, but you almost had to be. Just to be yourself. It got to a point was much easier everyone just sort of accepted who you were, but we are starting to see steps backwards now. We're going through a difficult time. So I think that, you know, it's a challenge. We have to step up and face it. And this is a time for young people to step up and realize that just by being yourself and by being out and being visible and letting people see that you are not someone to be afraid of, it's powerful. That's how we did it last time. When people who were in the straight community who felt uneasy about people who were LGBTQ, started to get to know us individually and personally, those fears went away, and that's how we made huge grounds. So just by being yourself, I think is really important and be visible, you know, don't shy away. Once you open up and start being true to yourself, you feel a weight lifted off of you. You start to be true to yourself. You start having deeper conversations and it's just healthier, I think. It's going to take work, it's going to take vigilance and it's going to take being intentional about what we do. Sometimes that's not easy, but I have full confidence that we will move forward and we will constantly move forward and make it a better world.