The Pride group within the Department of Homeland Security may sound big — it has about 500 members — but Brandon Montgomery, its president, says it’s really not when you consider that the department employs about 250,000 people.
“Just like in the military, there’s a lot of stigma people have to overcome,” Montgomery says. “I think giving people in the federal law enforcement world a sense of belonging is paramount. … Every employer that can offer that kind of support should do so.”
Montgomery has been with the DHS a little over seven years and has served in several departments. Now he’s a public affairs officer and liaison for film, TV and multimedia producers who need information on the department. The 47-year-old San Antonio native moved to Washington about 10 years ago when his ex-wife was pursuing a doctoral degree and got transferred.
Married 19 years, he divorced in 2010 and later started a relationship with his current partner, Stevan Johnson. They have joint custody of his two daughters, Katherine and Claire (14 and 8 respectively), and live together in Silver Spring.
Montgomery enjoys Broadway, museums, reading, movies and cooking in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
About five years. The hardest person to tell was my wife. The second hardest were my kids who were pretty young at the time, though in the end they were the quickest to accept and adapt to it.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I admire the unsung heroes who stand up for what they believe, battle bullying and discrimination and show the “rest of the world” that being is gay is normal. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Harvey Milk.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m old. Best nightspot to me is home with friends and Stevan dishing dirt but I really enjoy the Green Lantern — hot men, not boys and all very friendly. It’s what I imagine the gay “Cheers” would be like.
Describe your dream wedding.
Well, I had the big fancy formal one in my previous life. But, if I were to marry again, my dream wedding would include Stevan and me on a beach, with my children, friends, family, lots of laughter, dancing and Champagne.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Equality. Gay or not. I think it is the basis for anything that gets me all riled up.
What historical outcome would you change?
That’s a toss-up between the “hanging chad” in Nov. 2000 and the assassination of Lincoln. Both were horrific.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Wow, I’ve had so many — meeting Adam Levine at a Super Bowl party where he performed and meeting and chatting with Prince, at a Grammys after party. Watching the New York City premiere of “The King’s Speech” with my Academy Award-winning producer and friend and chatting and being caddy with Leslie Jordan.
On what do you insist?
Be honest. Be bold. Be compassionate.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Photo of snow in backyard: “Peaceful day of constant snow. Looking out bedroom window. Expect 7” when done. As a gay man … that’s pretty much average … of snow for one day.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Me Talk Pretty One Day”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Why change perfection, just because you can?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Well, I’m Episcopalian. Catholic-lite.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Be honest. Be bold. Be compassionate.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My children. And to sing and dish with Kristin Chenoweth
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
“Straight acting” — that’s ridiculous. Really, what does that mean?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“A Single Man.” However the one that most impacted me emotionally wasn’t a movie, but the play “The Normal Heart.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Thank you notes.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The ring Stevan gave me. It’s funny, we had the girls in the car and singing like fools to “Single Lady,” and he put a ring on it. Awe…
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That life would be good being gay. Life would be tough being gay or playing straight. In the end it doesn’t matter, life is tough but make the best of it.
It’s an incredible city filled with history, culture and inspiring leaders creating social and world change right in your midst. Not to mention the gays are beautiful and it’s an easy gateway to the Caribbean and Europe!