There’s been a rash of prominent professionals declaring their gayness recently. Remarkably, in their respective industries few have come (out) before them, probably because these fields lean toward the macho. Take a look at the rundown:
- Don Lemon, CNN reporter and news anchor
- Jared Max, ESPN New York 1050 sports radio host
- Georgia State Representative Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta), and
- Rick Welts, president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns — it’s a basketball team.
We’re totally touched by the sentiments these fellows expressed about the process of revealing their true selves on the job. Consider:
Don Lemon, in an interview with the Washington Blade, said “I just feel like a new person,” and
[In coming out now,] at first there was a perceived risk. That, you know, my livelihood would be taken away, that people would shun me, that people would ostracize me, that people would turn off the television and not watch me. Sometimes the fear of the unknown is worse than actually knowing, right? Now that I’ve come out, and I’m on this side, then now I’m living in that risk and that fear. Maybe there are people that won’t watch me. Meh! I’ll have to deal with it. Maybe there are people who are going to write bad, dirty things about me. Meh! I’ll have to deal with it. Before I was dealing with the possibility, which isn’t real. So now I’m living it. So now I’m walking, and taking those steps, and every single day, if it does indeed happen, then I’ll just have to deal with it. And I’ll have to discuss it. If it doesn’t happen? Then all of that fear was for naught. So the actual fear was losing my livelihood. Who knows? That could still happen. But you know what? I don’t think so. I tend to believe in the goodness of people.
Next, Jared Max put new meaning in “Maxed Out in the Morning”, his ESPN radio show, by declaring live on air “I’ve hidden behind what is a gargantuan-size secret here in the sports world. I am gay,” and then
The news I’ve just dropped, this terrific-sized meatball, will hopefully mean the start of a life of freedom I’ve sought for decades,” Max said. “I’m 37 — I think it’s time I’ve released myself from these self-imposed shackles that have kept me living in fear for too long.”
It gives us chills to listen to him come out at work, here.
While there’s been some scandal revolving around Rashad Taylor’s coming out at work, his words about the experience are plainly from the heart. “I feel really good. My heart is at ease,” and then “Tonight’s sleep will probably be the best sleep I’ve had in 12 or 13 years.” Taylor is now the first openly gay male serving in the Georgia legislature. Watch him come out at work:
But wait, there’s more! Rick Welts spoke with the New York Times about coming out in his professional role, and writer Dan Barry reports that Welts
wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic.
In the video below, you can see some of Welts’ pain as he reflects on his decision to present himself publicly as a whole person.
Let’s review the main sentiments we just heard. Coming out at work relates to feeling whole and authentic. It puts your heart at ease. It can release you from self-imposed shackles that keep you living in fear. And as a result, you can feel like a new person.
What transformational results! We don’t know of any other catalyst that can bring about such strong feelings of freedom in the workplace. You can experience similar emotions by coming out at work:
- as an alcoholic
- with dyslexia
- as an immigrant
- with depression
- as losing your eyesight
- with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or
- as HIV+.
So let’s get to it. Let’s feel the fuel of the momentum set by these four men, and let’s come out to our coworkers as the fully integrated, complex people we are.
Have you come out at work recently? How has it been going?