Dale: Tell me about your project The Proud Diplomat?
Kevin: The Proud Diplomat started over two years ago. The reason I started the project is I am married to a Mexican citizen and diplomat. And, around the time he received a new post, we moved from San Francisco to Dallas, I started searching for information about LGBTQ individuals who were married to a diplomat or living this ex-pat type of lifestyle. To my surprise, I found there was little, if any, information. I wanted to find this information to be able to relate and get insight from other people’s experiences. It just didn’t seem like there was a lot of great information out there.
That’s where the idea was born. So, I created a space where people can share their stories of living abroad, living in different cities, or countries, either single, partnered, or married with the intent of sharing their experiences. It can be very scary and exhilarating to uproot your professional and personal life every 3-4 years or to just pick up and move to a new country to study or work. The spectrum of stories I feature are broad and the site encompasses three main areas 1) the personal authentic stories of this community, 2) global facts and information, and 3) travel and culture. Some examples of the stories I feature revolve around how individuals define home, how to manage a career, and how to manage a same-sex relationship. The project covers a gamut of topics with the primary focus of sharing those authentic stories and experiences so that other individuals can relate.
Dale: How did you start the project?
Kevin: Similar to you and your project Living Without Disguises, I wanted to write about my personal experiences. So, I created my own website and blog sharing some of my experiences. My first piece was about picking up and moving both my professional and personal life from San Francisco to Dallas.
There was a lot of anxious energy there, and I had to put all my trust into my husband since I didn’t have a job, friends, or family in Dallas. I had to believe in the fact that I chose love over my career, which is a risk. ” So, I left my career, and started writing about my experiences.”
It was only after writing a few pieces, and understanding a life of constant change, did I start to think this project could be bigger and that I wasn’t the only person going through these types of experiences, so I thought how can I get other people involved to hopefully share their experiences as well?
Dale: What do you hope to accomplish with the project?
Kevin: It’s an informative space that, ideally, becomes a global community. I would like for it to become a forum where people can interact with one another depending on where they are. For example, a support network of individuals who may be based in various countries around the world.
I’m far from reaching that goal, but my initial focus has been to help build awareness of the project, and over time I will realize my vision for the entire project. There are significant challenges LGBTQ individuals face from “How do you manage a same-sex relationship if you’re moving every three to four years or you find yourself in a country where you don’t speak the language?” You don’t immediately have a support system to turn to. And, if you don’t have family, or friends it really becomes challenging. For me, establishing a network of individuals who are there to share and support each other and make a positive difference in the lives of others is my goal.
Dale: How have you found the community responding to it?
Kevin: Most people respond very well to the overall concept. They think it is amazing and always share how interesting they think it is.”
But like you had talked about with LWD, it seems like sometimes I hit a wall trying to get people to share their experiences. They may start off by saying “Oh, sure, I would be open to participating.” But, many times people get cold feet at the point of making it public. I’d say it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be, and a lot of times I have to rely on a close networks of friends that I have here in D.C. to help continue building the stories and finding individuals who want to participate.
But, I am the type of person who believes in the vision of my project, so I just keep pushing forward. I know if I keep pushing it forward something great will happen as my audience seems to be highly engaged, and in need of the content. Last week, I interviewed the Canadian Ambassador to the OAS about LGBT initiatives and, Canada’s perspective and leadership.
So, I’m getting somewhere. Slow and steady wins the race though I would like more people to want to proactively participate.
Dale: What are the obstacles or the hurdles you’ve found most daunting?
Kevin: First off, finding people who also believe in what I’m trying to do. Unlike you, I don’t have a non-profit. It’s not an established 501 (c) so there is no board of directors or big budgets now, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I work and trying to get people involved.
Recently, I have been involving other individuals in the project as writers and contributors. I am currently working with a gentleman, Matthew, who you just spoke to, in Chicago, and he is focused on the section of my project around Facts affecting the LGBTQ global community. He recently wrote a piece about racisms within the LGBTQ community, and the piece resulted in healthy engagement. I plan to continue partnering with smart, like-minded writers and contributors in order to increase the quality and quantity of my content.
I would consider bringing in a partner. It needs to be someone who is as passionate as me about the LGBTQ community and wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Sometimes, it can feel like I am the character from The Myth of Sisyphus who is just pushing and pushing that rock uphill, but I am enjoying it.
Dale: That’s the most important part.
Dale: So what happens next for you and for the project?
Kevin: The next steps are producing more quality content on a regular basis. For me, the website and building content that is relevant for my audience is a lot of the work that I’ve done along with the analysis to support it. But, I need to be producing more content.
I think the second piece, which you already doing, is that I need to get out there more and talk about my project face-to-face. DC is such a great place to be because it is home to so many International expats, and diplomats, which is the same audience I am reaching through Facebook, and my website. I need to get out there and speak to people about it. My background is in consumer marketing, but I need to push myself to get out and talk more about my project as this could lead to finding additional support allowing me to take it to the next level.
Dale: What has been the most surprising part of working on the project for you?
Kevin: The most surprising part of this project, is that if you have something that you believe in passionately, you should definitely find a way to bring it to life. Don’t listen to the critics, as they are everywhere, and follow your passion as it will result in so much personal happiness and growth. Also, the adage about working hard will result in something good, is so true. Going it alone is challenging to navigate at first, and full of surprises, but the harder you work, and the more you believe in yourself and your idea the better the results. You just need to keep knocking on people’s doors, even when many of them say no. Believe it will happen, and with time, effort, and energy, it will.
I didn’t realize that it was going to be as challenging as it is.
Dale: In the perfect picture senario of your project, what would be the end result?
Kevin: I think for me; the perfect result would be a highly engaged global community full of inspiring stories and information. Having a more engaged audience and connecting people through a global LGBTQ network would be success. And, of course, making a positive different in the lives of others. Let’s get to work! You can reach us by email at email@example.com or visit us at www.theprouddiplomat.com.