The Journey from Fear to Pride

Illustration titled "Thought Leadership" with five light bulbs, one lit among four unlit. "dailypay" logo at the bottom.

If you take a moment to Google, “Coming Out Stories”, you’ll find thousands of pages of diverse stories that highlight how proud people are to come out. And why shouldn’t they be? It’s 2024 which means there is far more education and resources available for LGBTQ+ people, and there is an entire global community aiming to ensure coming out is not only comfortable but affirming as well.

However, for someone like myself who tends to keep things close to my chest, I don’t find it any more comfortable. The very idea of coming out conjures up thoughts of unwanted attention, invasive questions, and situations that would place me squarely outside of my comfort zone. These are the reasons why I kept this part of myself a secret.

As most young people do, I spent a lot of time finding myself. While attending college, I enjoyed making many new friends. At the same time, I also discovered a lot about myself and how much I value my privacy. But privacy can often be isolating when harboring a secret.

After graduating, I was ready to take on the world. I was looking to succeed, and society had a very specific prescription for success: graduate from university, begin my career, marry a woman, have children, and live happily ever after with a white picket fence. I took the necessary steps to begin my career, but the next part would prove more challenging because I began dating a man.

Navigating my feelings, alone, tested my ability to keep my comfort zone intact. My decision to be true to myself led to a lot of confusion and fear. During that time, I didn’t seek any support communities because I wanted to be under the radar as best I could. Socializing inside and outside of work became incredibly challenging, especially because I feared isolation from my peers. In my mind, I had presented one version of myself and now I had presented brand new information that contradicted my character. I was certain my managers, my peers, and my friends would not only judge me but would reject me as well.

As I continued to learn about myself, I found a courage within myself that I didn’t know existed. I made the decision to come out to my siblings and friends, and eventually my parents. The bravery I summoned did not negate how terrifying the experience was.

Every person understanding their sexuality deserves to deal with it on their own timeline. My advice to someone then and now remains the same: coming out is a process and it is your decision to disclose or seek community. While it’s a wonderful feeling to no longer have to carry a secret that alienates you from the world, some people aim to be more discreet, and that’s okay. Everyone’s journey is different. However, if you are struggling, there are options to help find support, in your own way.

Hotlines such as the LGBT National Hotline and The Trevor Project, are ways to have support, where you can feel more anonymous, providing the LGBTQ+ community with access to the support they might need. At my company, DailyPay, I’m proud to share that I’ve joined the Leadership Team of our employee resource group, DailyPride. DailyPay enables our employee resources groups to positively make a difference through education, engagement, and social responsibility. Every day, I’m thankful to work at a company that believes in inclusion. Creating an environment of inclusion and affirmation is not only the right thing to do, but studies suggest it can accelerate the success of your organization.

It took a long time for me to get to this point of self-acceptance and taking pride in my sexuality. Sometimes, I still wake up and have reservations about being so vocal about my identity. The attention of disclosing that I am a gay man requires a degree of vulnerability that I’m still wrestling with. But coming out is indeed a process, and I’m learning to embrace my authenticity with the support of this amazing community.

Now, more than ever, I want to enjoy my identity and my community. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that embraces every employee with the lifestyle they choose. For the first time in my life, I’ve begun seeking community attention, because I want to make a positive impact. I hope I can be a beacon of hope so that if there is someone else struggling just like I did, I can show them how fulfilling life can be living authentically. With the added bonus of possibly being able to assist someone else in their journey and making the workplace and world feel just a bit safer.

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