Virginia Hemingway is a loving partner, mother, and fierce LGBTQ advocate serving as the Executive Vice President of AFGE Local 2433.
In the last decade, Virginia has seen LGBTQ rights move forward by leaps and bounds in her workplace and union.
“Back then the homophobia in the union was high,” explains Virginia. “Being from Southern California it wasn’t a problem for me to be out within my agency, but it was a problem in my union.”
“I was uncomfortable with that. I am a DoD employee and my union people are DoD employees and they didn’t want to talk about it. How could we in a union fight for the rights of our employees while negating the rights of union members themselves?”
Then at this year’s Legislative Conference, Virginia spoke up during the AFGE Pride meeting to thank the union for participating in the DC Capitol Pride Parade.
“By participating in the parade, AFGE is publicly acknowledging that they’re in the game. They are saying they will do what they say they are going to do. It stops being rhetoric when you do that.”
In her years as an AFGE member, Virginia is proud of many things. Proud that she was able to add orientation language in her bargaining agreement. And honored she was able to say the opening prayer at the last convention.
“I like to think that the greatest thing I do for LGBTQ labor is show up.”
“What I’ve always wanted is to not be something unique and special and just be part of life. And that is what’s going on today. Today, I am just another example of coupling. Of people living life. And that’s what we’re all looking for isn’t it? For years I was living with tolerance. I never wanted to be tolerated I wanted to be accepted. And today I feel accepted.”
“AFGE has come a long long way and is doing a fabulous job. Thank you for your work and for all that’s yet to come.”