Susan Gore grew up Southern Baptist in suburban Atlanta in the 1960s. During these early years Susan read the Bible cover-to-cover (two chapters a night), spent summers at Baptist girls camp, hosted Young Life in her family’s home and regularly participated in Thursday morning “God Squad” prayer meetings before the start of her high school classes. She also took on the All-American Soap Box Derby, writing in 1961 to protest its exclusion of girls. The Derby General Manager Bruce Overbey’s response hangs on her office wall, alongside a State of Texas legislative resolution declaring October 11, 1996 National Coming Out Day in Dallas, when Susan was co-chair.
In the intervening 35 years, Susan earned a Ph.D. in psychology and helped found the APA Division on the Psychological Study of LGBT Issues, as well as the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), Leadership Lambda and Lambda Toastmasters, the world’s first LGBT-chartered club. Susan later become executive director of the NWSA. As National Coordinator of the Association for Women in Psychology, Susan convened a group of feminist therapists and obtained funding for them to present their report, A Feminist Mental Health Agenda at the UN Decade for Women World Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985. Susan also served on the UN Decade pre-conference planning committee. A chance meeting at the UN Conference resulted in Susan becoming the Director of Institutional Marketing for a San Francisco-based socially responsible money fund. She opened the fund’s Washington, DC office to promote socially responsible investing to national nonprofit organizations.
In 1992, Susan established The Mentor Group, a consulting firm that provides strategic planning, leadership development and communications expertise for clients committed to leveraging employee diversity and inclusion. One of her first contracts came in response to an “incident” involving a gay employee at a multinational telecomm. At the end of day one of a train-the-trainer she created for the company’s Human Resource (HR) leaders, a participant approached Susan and told her that although she was very good at what she did, he felt compelled, as an evangelical Christian, to let her know she was going to burn in hell because of her lesbian lifestyle. The experience planted a seed that germinated for 20+ years. Susan also went on to research and write the corporation’s Global Strategic Diversity Plan.
Susan also has written and spoken on a variety of other subjects, including AIDS as a women’s issue, mentoring, career considerations for LGBT professionals, the multi-generational workplace, and hospice care (as producer of a DVD, How to BE With Someone Who Is Dying). She served as the bisexuality content expert for the Cultural Detective: LGBT diversity training curriculum and as project leader and author of Excellence in Ministry, an examination of factors contributing to congregational diversity within the Unitarian Universalist Association. In 2011, she co-edited Coming Out in Faith, a collection of 15 essays describing life at the intersection of being LGBTQ and a person of faith.
Susan Gore hooding, 5/9/2014 Examples of Susan’s community engagement include serving as president of Interweave: Unitarian Universalists for LGBTQ Issues, co-chair of National Coming Out Day-Dallas and a founding member of Celebration on the Lake, an interfaith welcoming congregation in rural east Texas that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012. She also helped establish the Lesbian Donor Fund as a board member of the Dallas Women’s Foundation and served as alumna board president for Leadership Texas.
The unexpected end of a 20-year relationship propelled Susan to Brite Divinity School, where she earned her Master of Theological Studies in 2014 with a thesis entitled The Impact of LGBTQ Identity on Changing American Christian Attitudes, aka Queers Through the Years.
2015 promises to be another big year for Susan. One month after passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the media firestorm leading to its revision to protect LGBT citizens, Susan spoke to the Indianapolis Diversity Roundtable on Sexual Orientation as a Business Issue.
The seed that was planted in 1992 also is finally coming to fruition with publication of Gays God and the Workplace: Not Mutually Exclusive. The purpose of GGAW is to promote support and appreciation for LGBTQ and faith identities in the workplace, using a SANE model of dialogue Susan has developed. The book proceeds from the pronouncement of her eternal damnation to end as the conversation really did, with the evangelical HR professional’s recognition of Susan as a child of God for whom he would “go to the mat” to ensure her fair treatment in the workplace.
In her personal life, Susan enjoys travel and good food shared with friends, especially when they occur at the same time. Her favorite trip is always the next one.
Biography Date: April, 2015
Unitarian Universalist | Interweave | Author/editor | Feminism | Women and Religion