In  last week’s cover story, I talked with members of the Dallas chapter of the affinity group Out@NBCUniversal, a collective of LGBT employees and straight allies. In it, they talk about how the network has been a sort of work-topia for queer employees and how diversity is encouraged without reservation.

Due to space constraints I couldn’t get more in from members Lauren Wheat and Matthew Simpson, but they had a lot to say about what the group means to them. Simpson, with NBC strategic marketing, and his partner Murad Kirdar, both work for the company. Simpson talked about his reasons for joining the group.

“I joined for a couple of reasons,” Simpson said. “First, I felt it was important for me, as an openly gay employee, to represent Dallas-Fort Worth within the larger footprint of Out@NBCUniversal. While there are thousands of members all across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, the DFW chapter was fairly young and had so much potential to make a difference. Getting involved was the best possible way to for me to help elevate the visibility of the Chapter and learn how other Chapters work to attract, recruit and retain great LGBT talent.

“Second, I’d have to say my partner of 17 years, Murad. While we didn’t meet at NBCUniversal, we now work just 50 feet from each other. As you know, Murad is co-chair of the DFW chapter and I was very excited to see him step up and embrace a leadership role. His excitement, passion and desire to lead on LGBT issues in the community is the reason so many LGBT and straight ally co-workers have joined the chapter.”

Lauren Wheat also talked about her reasons for getting on board with the Dallas chapter. Wheat also appears in the Out&NBCUniveral “It Gets Better Video” which includes members throughout the eight chapter hubs across the country.

“I witnessed one of my co-workers who encouraged involvement by everyone in the office,” Wheat said. “He and his partner worked in our office and lead the group of true inclusiveness. I am excited to be part of a group like that, and even more happy that my company encourages diversity in the workplace.”

As for the group’s goals and events, Simpson talked about both the development and fellowship the group works to incorporate among members.

“The chapter has been involved in everything from supporting charitable causes to hosting employee career development and leadership lunches,” he said. “However, the most ‘fun’ I’ve had was helping organize and bring to fruition a multi-week OUT@NBC event held at the Round-Up Saloon. The two events were tied directly to NBC’s show, The Voice. The chapter took over the Round-Up for an exclusive prime-time viewing party. While our core mission was to engage the LGBT community and showcase our diverse employee base and career options, we had a great time doing it. We gave out prizes to the crowd and after the show, the Round-Up hosted their own singing competition. It was a perfect match and so much fun!”

Alva, Simpson and Kurdar at OUt@NBCU’s ‘The Voice’ party at the Round-Up. (Courtesy of Murad Kirdar)

Like Wheat, Simpson then discussed his pride in what the chapter has done and even in his workplace.

“I’m so proud to work for a company that recognizes and supports ALL affinity groups, six in total. I think it sends a very positive message to every employee: They are valued, appreciated, and encouraged to share their ideas on ways to make our company even more inclusive. I’m especially touched to have so many Straight Ally members in our Out@DFW Chapter. While it’s amazing to have LGBT members coming together from so many different company divisions, it’s even more rewarding to know that there is a real interest in the work we’re doing.”

Wheat talked about the proactive nature of the group’s leadership by Kirdar and co-founder Patric Alva. The community outreach, along with an open environment, has enhanced her personal experience of involvement.

“I never felt comfortable being ‘out’ at a company before. Also, the leadership of this organization is working to create inclusiveness in the workplace and it’s great to have exposure and access to fellow colleagues across the organization specifically targeting information for the community. I appreciate the efforts that go toward community outreach within NBCUniversal; and anticipate what we can do as a group to positively affect our greater DFW community as a prominent organization that hires and supports LGBT.”

And speaking of hiring, group co-chair Murad Kirdar of Telemundo sales and marketing mentioned that “if people are interested in NBC/Telemundo careers” they can visit here.

Back in June, the group celebrated National Pride throughout the offices. Kurdar sent over these pics from the month-long event: