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MBA Stories: LGBTQ+ History Month

By William Horton-Anderson
Monday, October 30, 2023

Alexander Leon, a Queer writer from London, wrote a viral tweet in 2020 about how people in the LGBTQ+ communities grow into adulthood: “Queer people don’t grow up as ourselves; we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimize humiliation & prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we’ve created to protect us.”

During LGBTQ+ History month, celebrated every year in October, we uplift and honor our LGBTQ+ community members that continue to educate, inspire and challenge our programs to be better. We hear from three current Full-Time MBA students, who also hold the honor of being our Reaching Out MBA Fellows, as they discuss their stories and experiences.

Grant Freeman headshot

Grant Freeman (MBA Supply Chain Management and Marketing ’25)

Grant Freeman (he/him/his)

Hometown: Albany, Georgia

Career before Broad: Chemist

Broad News: Why did you choose Broad?

Freeman: When I began my search of colleges for business school, I knew I needed to put myself in an environment where I felt welcomed and supported. When I visited Broad during an on-campus visit, I immediately felt a sense of acceptance from both the current students and the faculty members. This feeling has carried on as I have created a real community in East Lansing. I am proud to say that I am within a program that allows me to express myself and develop as a LGBTQ+ business leader.

Broad News: What does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?

Freeman: Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community means a lot to me on a personal level. It’s about embracing my true self and not allowing anyone to diminish who I am. For me, the LGBTQ+ community has provided me a safe space to grow in myself and be honest about my identity. One of the most significant aspects of being within the LGBTQ+ community is the opportunity to connect with others who have diverse stories and experiences. Each person has a unique story, but the pursuit of a world where others can be their authentic selves is shared by all individuals. It’s about celebrating love and striving for a more inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Broad News: How has the meaning of “pride” evolved over your journey/lifetime so far?

Freeman: To me, “pride” means celebrating my journey and embracing my authentic self. I remember moments in my life when I felt like I had to suppress who I was and struggled with the anxiety that was rooted from this part of my life. I look back on these moments to fully grasp how far I have come in my journey and look forward to the opportunities I have to further invest in my LGBTQ+ community.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals?

Freeman: As the business community builds a more welcoming and inclusive environment, I believe there are some key strategies that can be implemented to achieve this goal. For example, a mandatory diversity and inclusion training program can help educate employees about LGTBQ+ issues and biases. Another strategy that comes to mind is the development of inclusive policies. The implementation of equal benefits and rights for LGBTQ+ employees, especially health-care coverage for transgender individuals, can create a sense of security and safety in the workplace.

Kaylee Stevenson headshot

Kaylee Stevenson (MBA Supply Chain Management and Marketing ’25)

Kaylee “Kay” Stevenson (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs)

Hometown: Howell, Michigan

Career before Broad: Before attending Broad, I built my career in user and customer experience analytics and design, with a focus on web design work. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University with a dual major in experience architecture and Japanese language.

Broad News: Why did you choose Broad?

Stevenson: I didn’t expect to ever consider returning to school for an MBA, but when I began considering going back to school, I attended virtual Broad info sessions and eventually the experiential learning day, where I fell in love with the people, the program and the environment. I knew right away that this was where I needed to be.

Broad News: What does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?

Stevenson: It is very personal and is a cornerstone of who I am. It’s something that has shaped every aspect of my life, whether directly or indirectly. It has also allowed me to be more open and accepting of myself in all respects of who I am, and for that, I’m very grateful.

Broad News: How has the meaning of “pride” evolved over your journey/lifetime so far?

Stevenson: “Pride” started for me as something I kept secret. For a long time, I only encouraged pride for others but never myself. As I grew older, I was fortunate enough to meet more people like me, and my relationship with myself grew more positive with time. I became inspired by LGBTQ+ professionals, leaders and fellow Spartans, and today, pride is a concept I learn to openly display every day. By doing so, I not only drive myself forward with confidence but show others that they too can grow, achieve and succeed.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals?

Stevenson: Answering the question of how the business community can be more supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals is a complicated one with so many facets to consider, but I think the biggest thing that can happen as everyday allies is understanding that there is no point of “good enough” — we need to always strive for better. Our priority should never be palatability or face-value “acceptance” but genuine support within the business world. There is still so much hardship endured outside of the workplace that carries into it, whether we always realize it or not. The internal, external, social and workplace struggles not only need to be addressed, but the continued support of the people beside to us will be what creates a real and lasting change.

AJ Slaughter headshot

AJ Slaughter (MBA Supply Chain Management and Marketing ’25)

Arjanah “AJ” Slaughter (she/her/hers)

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Career before Broad: I was an advertising agency account manager. I created integrated marketing campaigns for pharmaceutical companies and consumer products.

Broad News: Why did you choose Broad?

Slaughter: I wanted to be a part of a strong and supportive community. The vibe you feel from students, faculty and alumni at Broad is collaborative, welcoming and inclusive. The people here genuinely care about you and are willing to help you with whatever you need.

Broad News: What does being a part of the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?

Slaughter: Being a part of this community as an ally is important to me because I want everyone to feel respected, embraced and accepted. It is important for me to help eliminate biases and create supportive environments where everyone can thrive. As a ROMBA Fellow, my goal is to continue to be an active resource and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Broad News: How has the meaning of “pride” evolved over your journey/lifetime so far?

Slaughter: Pride is so much more than rainbows and parades in June. There are so many interesting pieces of LGBTQ+ culture and history to learn about. Pride to me is about loving and celebrating your authentic self. It is about respecting who others are and whom they choose to love.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals?

Slaughter: Businesses should partner with LGBTQ+ organizations and support LGBTQ+ causes to show a commitment to the community. Businesses must be inclusive and provide a welcoming and safe environment for employees in the workplace.

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Hospitality business senior Diana Talamantes-Valles will inspire her peers in the Class of 2024 on April 27.
A Spartan holds her diploma and smiles while crossing the Breslin Center commencement stage.
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