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Portraits of Pride: Johnson Celebrates Pride Month

Catherine Ragin Williams |
June 23, 2020

As NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer often says, our diversity is our strength. Even as the world is going through difficult and turbulent times, Johnson strives to celebrate the beautiful and intersectional diversity found within the center (or our at-home workspaces!). 

As LGBTQ Pride Month draws to a close, read about some Johnson team members, below, who are Out and Proud.

PRIDE 2020!

Steve Riley

Deputy Chief, Space Vehicle Mockup Facility

Flight Operations Directorate – CD14

 “I am Out and Proud because the teenage me needs to know that they are not alone, that they are loved, and that they matter.”

Michael Chandler

JSC Exploration Integration and Science Directorate – XT

Advanced Exploration Systems

“I am out and proud because …

We must pay forward all the work that has been done by those before us, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969, through the AIDS/HIV crisis in the 1980s, up until now — to ensure that the LGBTQ community is accepted and not discriminated against.

Being out, proud and participating in the JSC Out & Allied Employee Resource Group allows me to be an ambassador to others at JSC and to hopefully show them it is OK to be YOU.

Happy Pride Month!”

Chasity Williams

Starport Deputy Operations Manager – AH

 “I am Out and Proud because I believe in showing up authentically in all aspects of my life.”


Will Davis

Deputy D&I Manager

Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity – AJ

“I am Out and Proud because I believe that progress is made possible through visibility. If my outness is observed by others struggling to decide if they should be out, then I can be a living example that being Out and Proud isn’t limiting to one’s future or one’s career and is, in fact, quite the opposite! I can live my life fully, authentically, unapologetically — and offer hope to those questioning their own worthiness, just as I used to do when I was younger. Being Out and Proud doesn’t just make a difference, it makes all the difference. Happy PRIDE!


Pride on Allen Parkway. Will Davis, center, poses with fellow Out & Allied Employee Resource Group (ERG) officers, Daniel Zapata and Justin Bautista, the year he served as chair of the ERG.

Daniel Zapata

Budget Analyst – LD

 “I am Out and Proud because I want to be a role model. I want people to know that you can bring your full, authentic self to work.

Growing up in Miami, Florida, I learned at a very young age that being gay was wrong. When I began questioning my sexual orientation, I tried hard to ignore my internal feelings. However, no matter how much I was bullied and called ‘gay,’ no matter how much I wished I was straight and no matter how many girls I dated, those feelings simply would not go away. I began living a double life. At the age of 21, when I finally got the courage to come out to my mother, I still felt the need to stay closeted to protect my family from the public disappointment of having a gay son.

Around the time that I came out to my mother, I joined NASA JSC as a Pathways intern. Through my involvement with JSC’s Out & Allied (O&A) ERG, I was able to participate in the NASA JSC’s ‘It Gets Better’ video, walk in my first Pride Parade and attend multiple guest speakers. Over time, these experiences made me more comfortable with who I was. When I started working full-time at NASA, I decided that I would be an out employee. I didn’t want to hide who I was or who I loved at work.

As the years went by, my involvement with O&A ERG grew. I was awarded the Trailblazer Award in 2016 and, eventually, became the chair of the organization in 2018. I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most amazing and supportive colleagues that I have ever met. Together, they have given me the strength and courage to continue bringing my full, authentic self to work every day. Now, I pay it forward by being a role model for the individuals out there who are struggling to bring their full, authentic self to work. I’m here for you. I’ll be your ally. That’s why I’m out and proud. Happy Pride!”


Michael Whicker

PCD Project Engineer

Operations Tools and Procedures Branch – FOD/CO2

 “I am Out and Proud because this is who I am, and I love myself!”  


Michael Whicker, center, is part of the Exploration Software for Crew Operations team.


Robert Hanley

Deputy Office Manager

Gateway Program Operations Integration and Utilization Office

“I am Out and Proud because everyone needs to be themselves at home, work and in the public. We can’t be our full selves at work if we aren’t out and proud ourselves.”