Insight into a Company’s Stance on LGBTQ+ Issues in the 1990s: an addition to the Thomas Kraemer Papers

In 2018, OSQA acquired the Thomas Kraemer Papers, a collection that included Kraemer’s blog, blog reference materials, and research files; his collection of comics, magazines, and films; and some biographical materials. Kraemer was an OSU alum who helped found the Gay Peoples Alliance, the first officially recognized gay student group at OSU, and his papers reflect his decades-long research on LGBTQ+ issues.

Recently, OSQA received an addition to the papers: a set of documents pertaining to Hewlett-Packard’s LGBTQ+ related activities, policies, and trainings during the 1990s.

Kraemer worked for Hewlett-Packard (HP) for over three decades. During the 1990s, he collected various materials pertaining to the company’s LGBTQ+ activities, policies, trainings, group meetings, and inter-office correspondence. This set of materials predominantly consists of email correspondence, but also includes information pertaining to HP’s Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network (GLEN), and copies of HP’s publication Measure Magazine.   

Below is detailed information on what you’ll find in the materials:

Correspondence, 1993

The email correspondence contains several online threads where HP employees engage in debate regarding topics of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion at HP and in society more broadly. Queer employees share their experiences with anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and violence at HP, and the hostility they experience from their fellow employees. The threads contain queerphobic, misogynist, abelist and racist language, among other kinds of harmful language. These debates at HP were occurring in a context of anti-gay legislature and laws being introduced across the United States in states such as Colorado and Oregon. Topics which are addressed in these threads include domestic partner benefits, HP’s stance on anti-gay legal initiatives, healthcare, gay marriage and discrimination.

Domestic Partner Benefits, 1995-1996

Materials include email correspondence regarding affirmative action and domestic partner benefits at HP and a statement by HP sharing the company’s stance on affirmative action. Also included are internal GLEN communications such as email correspondence regarding HP’s decision to not extend domestic partner benefits, a letter writing campaign by GLEN members, and meeting minutes for GLEN meetings concerning the organizations strategies for responding to this decision. Finally, included is a statement by HP regarding its eventual decision to offer domestic partner benefits.

GLEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network), 1995-1997

The GLEN materials consist of email correspondence, meeting minutes, diversity training and workshop materials, photographs, promotional and educational materials, and materials sharing community resources. The documents cover topics such as Kramer’s experiences with seizures, LGBTQ+ issues and history in media, the Harvey Milk Annual Dinner, and a GLEN Leadership Workshop held in a Vancouver branch of HP. The meeting minutes are concerned with things such as organizational structure, group members and responsibilities, planning, event promotions, and calendars. Of note are correspondences between and GLEN and a community group known as the Pathfinders of Linn/Benton County, a program of Valley Aids Information Network, Inc. (VAIN). The Pathfinders describe themselves as a support group for the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual community in Corvallis. These correspondences include an invitation to ‘Gay Pride 1997’ and newsletters created by the Pathfinders and VAIN. The photographs depict GLEN members marching together at a pride celebration.

Measure Magazine, 1995-1996

There are three issues of HP’s publication Measure Magazine. The September-October 1995 issue contains a piece which speaks about the presence and work of employee networks at HP, namely the Black Employees Forum, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Network. The November-December 1995 issue deals with the topic of violence and harassment in the workplace, and includes letters from employees expressing their dissatisfaction or support for the earlier issue’s focus on diversity. The January-February 1996 issue similarly contains employee reflections on harassment, violence and diversity.

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” and Related Correspondence, 1994

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” is an email internally shared by an HP employee in which he reflects on his experience participating in a gender diversity training. This reflection is accompanied by a massive email chain in which other employees share their own thoughts, discussing the importance of gender diversity training and sexism at the workplace.

Related Materials, 1992-1996

The related materials are not specific to HP. Included is an email correspondence describing a group in Colorado known as GROUND ZERO, described as a grassroots organization working to overturn the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado and fighting to secure and maintain basic civil rights for LGBTQ+ citizens. Also contained is a document titled “Gay & Lesbian Issues and Culture on National Public Television.”

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