MoFo is proud of our LGBTQ+ lawyers and the contributions that they make to the firm and our communities every month of the year, but Pride Month is an especially exciting time for the firm as we come together to celebrate LGBTQ+ history, culture, and politics. During this month-long Q&A series, we'll hear from a number of MoFo lawyers about what Pride Month means to them.
With over 30 years of experience, London partner Brian Bates is known as the go-to practitioner when it comes to issuer-side cross-border placement representation. His practice focuses on representing clients in a range of financial transactions, from private debt and equity placements to high yield offerings, bank finance products, and mezzanine and leveraged buyout financings. Brian recently spoke to us about his experience as a diverse lawyer and what Pride Month means to him.
What does Pride Month mean to you? How will you celebrate this year?
To me, "Pride Month" reminds me of the great strides that the LGBTQ+ community has made since I was a young professional in the 1980s. Back then, we all lived in a rather constant state of fear of losing our jobs, our livelihood, our apartments, etc., if someone decided that they simply didn't like us working with them.
While we continue to have challenges, we do not experience that deep-seated fear that often wrecked lives and ruined reputations. Pride means respect and acceptance, not merely "tolerance" —one of my most despised words in the English language. I celebrate Pride Month every day of the year simply by being me and not letting others deter me from being the person that I am.
If you could have dinner with any pioneer of LGBTQ+ rights, who would it be and why?
I would have dinner with a gentleman called Joe Turek. Joe was a member of the IMPACT Illinois Board of Directors, a gay rights political action committee with whom I volunteered in Chicago in the 1990s. Joe was a generation older than me and had lost his job when an Arthur Andersen partner discovered he was gay. Joe went on to form his own accounting service, became independently wealthy and spent his time and resources fighting for human rights in Chicago. I would love to hear his thoughts on the LGBTQ+ issues of today.
How, if at all, has being LGBTQ+ made you a better/different kind of lawyer?
Particularly, as an LGBTQ+ partner, I have tried my best to constructively challenge my majority peers to not overlook the issues confronting LGBTQ+ lawyers and members of staff within the firm. At MoFo, we are fortune to have LGBTQ+ lawyers in prominent positions, so that we don't get complacent or forget about the LGBTQ+ perspective when it comes to policy making, unconscious bias training, parental leave issues, as well as many other issues.
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