by Anne Fay
In 1986, I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was working for a large shopping center developer and was assigned to open a new center in the summer of that year. While living there, I was coming to terms with my orientation and was struggling with how to come out with those I worked with directly and to my company in general. I decided to go to a therapist and discuss my anxiety about this journey. I thought a plan could be developed with this “professional” and all would be well in short order.
On the day of my appointment, I arrived with a sense of relief that I was going to get this monkey off my back and move on with living an open and honest life at work. When the therapist asked me why I was there, I told her the source of my anxiety, and within 30 seconds she told me I would be fired if I came out. Furthermore, she informed me that I must always keep my orientation a secret if I wanted to have a successful career. I was shocked. Even more to the point, I left her office feeling even worse. I obviously did not come out to anyone at the office or in my company.
In 1989 I moved to Dallas, still with the same company. I almost immediately fell into a group of friends who were quite engaged and active in the LGBT community. Dallas was like no other place I had lived before. To be out and open was almost common place. The LGBT community was vibrant and fearless. I felt at home almost overnight.
I became involved with HRC and remain so to this day. While I always enjoy and value going to Washington DC, it is Dallas that still make my heart skip a beat. Soon after my arrival to Dallas, I did in fact come out at work. My announcement was accepted and from that day forward I never omit aspects of my personal life within the company.
Recently, I reconnected to the woman I reported to in Tulsa, who of course knew I was gay. She told me her daughter had recently come out to her and her husband. I just sat there and said nothing, wondering what I should or shouldn’t say. She spoke first. What she said was they both agreed if their daughter was able to be as open and honest as I had become they had no additional concerns about having a gay daughter.
I guess this story might be called the circle of life.