For many lesbians the choice of whether or not to come out in her professional life is an agonizing decision. The decision point lies in the direct collision of wanting to be authentic and fear of rejection. Often it can be an conflict that rages inside her for a long time robbing her of energy that could be spent letting her true self shine and on the things that matter most to her. It stands at odds with being fully comfortable in her own skin in many ways.
The other night I watched the documentary “Out on the Job” on Logo. It was a very worthwhile hour illustrating the challenges of coming out and being out on the job for three individuals. I particularly like their statement:
Coming out at work can be an act of incredible courage – especially for those who live in one of the 33 states where it’s legal to fire someone just for being gay. But even those who are out and proud in supportive workplaces can run into problems.
Sometimes we can forget just how much courage it takes. Yet I have to say after watching the show that even in the face of lost income, uncomfortable moments, and questioning whether it is worth it, I left with the feeling that all three of these individuals believe it is worth it. Difficult and miserable and unfair at times? Yes. Scary and overwhelming to see how many people truly support “family values” and agree with businesses who terminate employees/contractors simply for being lesbian? Absolutely. Even as reluctant everyday activists, though, we don’t see even one of the folks profiled give up or retreat back to the illusion of safety in the closet.
I would love to see more shows like this one profiling the everyday heroes and heroines of our community that choose to live out in their professional lives. While I do not judge someone’s choice to come out or stay hidden, I know from the work that I do that it is much harder to live a fully authentic life if you are hiding a part of yourself. As paradoxical as it might seem (especially knowing you could lose your career and income simply by coming out) – you do limit your potential for success on your own terms when you are living in a constant state of inner conflict and a maze of lies or half-truths.
It isn’t always a cut and dry decision. The stakes can be high and the courage to be vulnerable and live your truth can be immense. That’s why with any big decision you really need to take stock, go inside, and listen to the wisdom within you. If you’re not sure where to start, consider working your way through the Free Coming Out with Confidence eCourse I designed.
It is a great way to look at the big picture as it applies to you and your life. While you don’t want to make a hasty decision, most people say after they come out that they wish they had done it sooner. So, why not start the process today – in the privacy of your own inbox and your own thoughts.