Family Equality’s 2011 Interns, Part 5

Introducing Riane Herlihy, one of Family Equality Council’s 2011
Events Interns:

My name is Riane Herlihy and I am a graduate of
Plymouth State University with a BA in English/Writing. After
completing my coursework in 2008, I dabbled in the publishing and
public relations world and though I enjoyed both industries
immensely, I struggled to find fulltime work. For the past year I
have been working as a bartender and manager at a restaurant in
Newburyport, MA, but I have also used this time to reflect and
reevaluate my future goals. When I examine my close friends and
family, I feel that many of them have jobs they don’t love or
work in industries they resent. I want to do something I love. I
want to find a job that gives me a sense of

I am passionate about many things in life but politics and working
with people are definitely at the top of my list. In high school,
my work with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was really what gave
me that sense of accomplishment. Originally formed to counteract
anti-Semitism, by the time I got involved the goals of the ADL had
been broadened to encompass prejudices and bigotry of all kinds.
Each year members of our chapter would facilitate small classroom
discussions focusing on discrimination and intolerance. At the
time, gay rights (LGBT wasn’t a common term back then) were
typically the hot topic. Discussions had a tendency to get heated
and emotional but our work, if nothing else, helped many students
become more aware of their use of hurtful language. As we grew
older, many of my friends felt more comfortable being honest
publicly about themselves and came out. It wasn’t my personal
triumph but their ability to do so gave me a sense of

In college I got lost in a world of almost complete tolerance and
harmony. It was only when I turned on the news that I remembered
the rest of the world wasn’t as liberal as the bubble I was
living in. But my work with the ADL was done. I had changed the
world and could live happily ever after. Then I graduated. Once I
was back in the “real world” I realized how wrong I was. As my
friends and I slowly moved towards our mid twenties, some of the
heterosexual couples began talking about marriage and having
children. The options for the homosexual couples were much more
limited. Still, for many of them those choices seemed far away and
therefore stayed in the back of my mind.

When my oldest friend came to me last year and told me that she had
decided she was not going to be gay anymore, I was more than a
little surprised. After much discussion she admitted that she
didn’t think it was fair to raise a child with two moms in a
society that hadn’t fully accepted that choice yet. I couldn’t
disagree with her more, but it’s not my decision to make.
Instead, I will do whatever I can to make her more comfortable to
make decisions based on happiness rather than necessity. I hope
that the community of LGBT families continues to grow to give my
friend the support she needs to make the right decision for herself
and her future family. I hope that later in life I will feel a
sense of accomplishment when I go to her wedding and hold her

I am currently interning in the events department at the FEC. I am
aiding in the organization of Night at the Pier and Family Week and
loving every minute of it! In the future I see myself getting more
involved in the policy aspect of the cause, but getting my feet wet
working at this nonprofit has proved to be immeasurably useful thus
far. I will be spending the next few months applying for graduate
school and one option I am considering is studying Public Policy or
Public Administration. I hope my internship at the FEC will help
make my decision!