Being a gay entrepreneur in the closet sucks.
You fear that you may lose the biggest client after coming out. You feel uncomfortable about being yourself. You feel like hiding part of yourself.
In her viral TED talk Coming Out Of Your Closet, Ash Beckham inspired me to be true to myself (Hugs to you, Ash. Yes homo.) She shared the best tips on coming out of your closet.
Ash emphasizes the importance of being yourself at work, "If you can't speak about your partner, you will not bring your full self to work. You'll fail to connect with clients and business partners."
We are lucky to be living at this exciting time. CEO of Apple, Tim Cook struggled to come out in his early career because it wasn't generally accepted. Now he feels empowered to tell the world, "I'm gay."
As our world becomes more open, we'll see more people coming out in early career. Our youths will see that gay entrepreneurs can be leaders and serve the community.
The best time to come out is when you feel comfortable. Ash Beckham added, "Coming out is a personal decision. Do it when you're comfortable."
It takes you years to know you're gay. Don't expect people to accept that you're gay immediately. Ash encourages us to give coworkers, friends and family members time to understand our situations.
Most people want to be supportive; they just don't know how. Be open to awkward questions. It's our responsibility to educate people by answering their questions.
While being true to yourself is important, make sure you come out in a way that doesn't hurt family members and friends. Don't jump on the chair and announce you're gay at your birthday party. Come out at the right time.
Coming out is an intimate conversation. Ash explained, "Many people can relate to having expectations of people and then it changes. It takes a little while to understand what we don't know about."
Here's what happens when you come out as a gay entrepreneur: you're not hiding anymore. You can hold your partner's hand when walking on the street. You can give your partner a goodbye kiss. You feel free and proud.
What if your clients know that you're gay and don't want to do business with you? Ash recommends doing research before working with clients. Do they have non-discrimination policies in their procedures and on their website? Do they have LGBTQ support groups? Ash says it the best, "By not saying something, you're saying something."
Coming out as a gay entrepreneur is not easy, but it's worth your time. Come out when you feel comfortable. Be yourself and be proud.