For those who must encounter it, the "coming out" conversation has got to be so anxiety-provoking.
Whether someone is telling their parents, siblings, extended family, or close friends they're gay, it must feel so scary to share such a massive, yet often unaccepted, piece of their identity.
So it also must be wildly refreshing when the other person responds with humor and levity. All of a sudden, total acceptance and an inclusive tone are conveyed.
Redditor RedditorYT asked:
"Gay people of Reddit, what was the best reaction you received to coming out?"
Many people talked about the times they discovered their sexual orientation was already old news by the time they mustered up the courage to come out.
For these folks, it was comforting to know they'd already apparently been accepted for months or even years.
The *Second* Talk
"Told my mom I was bisexual. Her reaction: 'Honey, you told me you were dating a guy months ago.' "
"Completely forgot I did that."
"nervously: I'm gay"
"mom: girl, you came out of a closet with no door"
"Best story: Me to grandma: gramma, you should probably hear from me first before blabbermouth aunt says it for me... I'm gay. Gramma: Yeah, I figured, but I wanted you to tell me rather than ask... just like that interesting 'vase' you keep on your patio which I know obviously isn't a 'vase.' (It was a bong and I lied.) Gramma was the best... I miss you gramma.)"
Making Plans Early
"I don't remember a specific coming out moment with my family, but I remember talking to my brother and dad about liking girls when I was a teenager."
"And my brother asking if I remembered being like 9 years old and telling everyone I wanted to marry my friend Mia. That's when I realised my closet door had pretty much been wide open all along."
Others were surprised when the person they told took the news with a completely casual and accepting demeanor. These people instantly felt silly for being so worked up.
One Less Thing to Worry About
"Dad was just like 'welp at least you won't get pregnant' lmao" -- SkepticalSpiderboi
"Two of my daughters are gay. It's an absolute bonus knowing that teen pregnancy is one less thing for me to worry about! If they have kids, it will be because they really want and plan for it." -- Someonetobetoday
Affirmation Like No Other
"I nervously sent my sister a meme about being bisexual. Her response was 'same' Funniest waste of adrenaline ever, ngl."
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"My friend laughed because he 'thought I was gonna confess something serious, like I'd murdered somebody, proceeding to essentially say that he doesn't care/it doesn't matter if I'm gay lol. This was the reaction of all my friends, basically. I'm lucky to have such good friends"
"Best: my dad didn't say much, but his neutral acceptance coincidentally broke down a lot of walls we had when I was growing up. We got to know one another a lot more once I felt free of my secret. Love him times a million."
In Good Company
"Best was when I told a group of friends in school and two others turned around and said 'oh me too!' then we went back to planning our weekend outing"
"Best- told my best friend. Cried. She stayed the night, we had pizza, drinks and watched a film. She slept in my bed, just like she did before. Nothing changed ❤️"
And some were comforted when the person they told was all set up with a killer one-liner. The humor shifted the mood from anxious to warm in an instant.
"Not gay, but trans here. Well, gay too, but it was when I was coming out as trans."
"I came out to my little bro towards the end of the year. His response was: 'Are you sure you're not taking the whole "new year, new me" thing a bit far?' "
"My dad's 'I also like women' has to be my favourite." -- FreyaAthena
"Your dad is offically your wingman lol" -- MachuPichu10
"Mad respect for your dad honestly" -- UwU_was_ist_das
A Sliver of Hope
"I've come out twice, which complicates things, and not in a 'normal' way"
I originally came out as gay and then again as bi, so yeah a bit strange. But my mum takes the cake with the classic 'Maybe I'll get some grandkids yet' "
"My sister: Yay, I always wanted a gay brother!"
"Me: You realize that you always had one, right? I'm not suddenly going to change my personality and enjoy shopping with you."
During Pride Month, when we celebrate the identities of so many who've had to fight to be accepted, it's nice to hear some stories from those who were accepted--at least by one person--right away.
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People change. People learn and grow. That is the hope, that we will evolve into better humans.
Now I do give some people leeway as age and experience fashions them into better forms of themselves, especially for people who spend many formative years as "bullies."
One of the most bullied groups is the LGBTQIA community. Sadly many inflict inhumane cruelty on them.
And because too many others are just confused about themselves. Hurt people, hurt people. That is a very accurate saying. And often the people lashing out at the LGBTQIA community are just too afraid to admit, they want a ticket to the party.Redditor u/straight-up-bs wanted to hear some hard but fantastic truths from people who found their truth by asking: Previous homophobes who turned out to be gay, what's your story?
I've lost count of the number of people I personally know, who were just plain malicious to gay people. They would fling slurs and do bodily harm. They couldn't handle being around people "like that" they'd say. Then cut to a decade later, and there I see them shaking it on a speaker to Whitney. Mhmmm...
1-Sorry Dog GIF by swerkGiphy
"I wasn't a homophobe I think, but more... I guess a little judgy about it. I lived in the middle of nowhere and was homeschooled with extremely limited access to the internet, so really only had my father and stepmother as sources."
"My father's opinion was that all gays are really only doing it for attention, and my stepmother would tell us stories about how her family members would get disowned and written out of the will (a cousin of her's) when they came out of the closet."
"They also made it a stipulation that in order to be in their will we had to have four kids, and we could not adopt until we exhausted all other methods of natural conception. When I was about 14, I had started reading fanfiction. I was into Sonic at the time (cringy, I know) and stumbled upon the ships. It slowly turned to me reading more and more gay fanfics, as I started to read from other fandoms I was into."
"Once I got into the Harry Potter fandom properly, I realized that damn, I was ticking a lot of these boxes... Oh crap, I might be bi! Still haven't had a chance to properly explore me sexuality yet, and it's not really a concern of mine at the moment. I live with my bio mother now, and she's totally cool with me being bi curious. She's bi herself, apparently!"
"Well, I grew up in such a hetero world that I genuinely didn't know what gay people were until I was 14 or 15. I just thought everyone was straight; which is why when I started crushing on girls when I was 13, I thought I was a perverted psychopath who needed locking up. I used to fake sick so I wouldn't have to go into school, so that girls wouldn't have to be anywhere near me. Eventually they started bullying me for being such a loner anyway."
"When I was 14, 2 senior year girls were expelled for being seen outside of school grounds, in their school uniforms, making out. That was what confirmed being gay was bad for me. We even had an entire religion module on why gay marriage shouldn't be legalised, and you had to back up your answers with bible quotes. A rumour went around about one girl being a lesbian, and I went along with the bullies, called her a freak behind her back."
"Well 3 years after that, I wrote a letter to my parents explaining how I just couldn't get myself to like boys, even after dating them. My mum picked it up mid way through writing it, read it aloud, and just started laughing. I said it'd be ok if she wanted to kick me out of the house. She said she couldn't give a crap and that I shouldn't either. Still got bullied for a while but eventually I found friends that accepted me."
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"Gonna be similar to a lot of people here. Grew up in a super conservative religious family where gay people were regularly mocked and called immoral. My cousin is gay and came out when I was in middle school. The family refused to talk to him for about 10 years after that and that scared me so much as a kid I just suppressed any gay thoughts I might have. I ended up parroting the hate I heard from parents and continued to do so until I went to college."
"In college I was finally far enough away from them that I wasn't scared of hiding anymore and kind of figured out who I was (I didn't know I was gay until probably junior year. I had just pushed the possibility out of my head.) Since then I've told my mom who is a bit more chill (though she doesn't believe me. She thinks it's just God testing me) but no one else in the family. Kids mimic what they see, but in more accepting environments people have a better chance of realizing who they are (in my experience)."
"I wasn't a serious homophobe. I didn't go out of my way to diss people for being part of the LGBT community but I didn't support them and kinda thought they were making a mistake. There were a lot of people who used being gay to get attention and I really didn't like it and since I didn't notice that they weren't actually gay, I thought that was natural."
"Secondly, I was using excuses of 'Aren't you too young to figure that out?' when talking to my friends. Around the quarantine, I started talking to this person who was explaining to me the LGBT community. I still wasn't very convinced but I tried to keep an open mind at least. After a while, we kinda went our separate ways."
"My friend started coming over more, and we started texting a lot more as well and I found myself staring at my friend in awe, hugging her and never wanting to let go, feeling sadder and disappointed when she would bail on me rather when my other friends did it and thinking about her a lot more. I haven't told her about my feelings yet but I'm planning to."
5-romantic lady and the tramp GIFGiphy
"I thought everyone wanted to make out with members of all sexes, and that they could choose to not make out with members of the same sex if they wanted to. Turns out, I'm just bisexual (not pan because I'm more into women than I am men)."
See how much happier and freeing it can be once we embrace our true selves? All of these people finally just gave up fighting, from within. And it's smoother when you take sometime to learn about the things you don't understand. Continue...
6-jesus deal with it GIFGiphy
"Was raised Christian and grew up being told that being lgbt was A) A straight ticket to hell B) On the same level as Beastiality or incest C) A choice, and D) The worst thing you can do to your family.
After thinking a long time about how much of christianity made zero sense and noticing that God literally never contacted me, I also questioned how good a God can be if he'd make someone a certain way then eternally torture them for not living their entire life rejecting such a huge part of themselves."
"Not to mention how they'd have to either live their entire life alone because of something they can't control, or force themselves to be with someone they did not feel attraction for. I rejected the religion on this basis. Then over time realized that it's not straight to daydream about marrying your best female friend. Then even later on I realized it's not cis that in a bunch of those daydreams, I was a guy."
"Grew up in a christian conservative family. Became a homophobe because that's what Jesus wanted, apparently. That's what my family taught me. 2016 rolls around and suddenly my christian family stops caring about any of their morals."
"I realized they didn't believe a thing they taught me, and I didn't have any reason to believe it either. So I kept the good stuff (love others) and dropped the hateful junk. I don't really consider myself gay, but I am a guy and I'm dating a guy, because they're a good person and that's the only thing worth considering."
"I grew up Baptist with a very LGBT+ phobic step-father. I was very (cringily) into Sonic and around middle school found out what shipping was. I was mortified that two guys would be shipped together, "They're both boys, the bible says that's bad!" However, I was repressing my interest in it. I would often look up gay ships with Shadow or Sonic, just to look at them angrily, like any repressed 12 year old would do."
"Eventually, I admitted my interest in it to myself, but also said I'd never support it in real life. Fast forward a few years and I end up having a MAJOR crush on a girl. My first real love was a girl, and at that time, I thought I was a girl too. That ended in heartbreak, but that's another story. Soon I start to question my gender because another classmate of mine who I was friends with came out as a trans guy. At first, I didn't realize the teacher was calling on him and was confused as to where [his deadname] was."
Eventually I figured it out and my own gender was up for question. I started making more male main OC's and realized I had a much better time relating to them than I ever did my female ones. I quickly realized I was a trans guy as well. Since then I've been questioning my sexuality and trying out different labels for it; but I'm pretty sure Pansexual covers it."
"Trans "girl" here. I got sucked into the alt-right pipeline in 2015 before i knew what being trans was but boy did I get introduced to it. I was told by Ben Shapiro and all the other morons like him that being trans and nonbinary (my current and more accurate identity) is a mental illness and that people who are those things are delusional and easily "triggered snowflakes."
"It took a serious come to Jesus moment to get out of my bad ways of thinking but i still had sort of a mental fog for reasons unknown. that sort of all fell apart the moment quarantine hit. now i'm a lot happier but I still feel horrible for all the crap I spread on the internet a while ago."
10-I Love You Kiss GIF by GAYCATION with Ellen Page and Ian DanielGiphy
"I was like, one of those "I'm not homophobic but..." people until I was about 15, turns out the "but..." was "but I am a massive lesbian."
"I wouldn't say homophobe, I grew up with a pretty accepting father, my mom also accepted me when I came out as bi (I'm a girl) but really had a homophobic reaction towards my brother when he also came out as bi. I repeatedly got bullied growing up because I was a tomboy/large and got labeled as "butch", etc. I still have trouble accepting myself as I am because of it."
"It's pretty simple. Being raised in a conservative state and christian family 🙂 you're taught to hate anyone who doesn't fit their mold, and subconsciously you know you're one of those "others", but you deny it and project that hate onto anyone else. I'll never understand how people can claim to worship a god who is loving, forgiving, sees humans as no better or worse than each other, yet they reject and exclude people from the "kingdom" or even target them as an outlet for their rage. So glad I escaped that barbaric way of life and thought."
"Basically my mom was kind of my only friend growing up because I'm on the autism spectrum and didn't develop "proper" social skills until I was like 10. I would believe everything she told me without questioning it. She also happens to be part of some pretty cult-like conservative groups so yeah I unfortunately had some pretty twisted views on stuff for awhile. When I was 14 I developed feelings for some girl I knew at school."
"Don't really wanna get into all of the details but I tried my hardest to convince myself that I only liked her as a friend and had feelings for one of my guy friends instead, which failed miserably. After speaking to a therapist and crap I finally started to accept myself as bi and realize how much of a terrible person my mom is. Im 17 now and looking forward to moving out soon."
"In high school, I had 2 best friends and we were part of a larger group of about two dozen friends. One guy in the larger group was outright hostile to anything gay. He hated any musical group with at least one known member who was gay, he hated guys wearing pink, and there were times he got so angry it would take a few of us to hold him back and keep him from attacking anyone (male or female) he perceived as gay. Found out at our ten-year reunion that all of it was due to his ultra-religious father who had disowned his own brother when he came out as gay."
"The uncle had been disowned by the entire family, called everything from evil to "possessed by Satan himself" to mentally deranged, etc. The last thing this guy wanted was to be treated the same way because, you guessed it, he was gay. His a-hole family disowned him, pretends he never even existed. I never saw him after high school, but others who have said he's a changed person, truly remorseful about the way he acted."
15-Cartoon Yes GIF by SpongeBob SquarePantsGiphy
"Wasn't really that homophobic but I thought it was weird but in middle school my friend came out as bi and basically all those thoughts went away and I turned out to be bi."
"I was raised in a religious cult and genuinely believed if you were gay, you were going to Hell. I was never violent and I genuinely tried not to be what I thought was hateful, but I know for sure I unfortunately still hurt a lot of people with my judgements."
"What was worse was that I was so hypocritical and so turned around, I was sexting with other guys and struggled to stop, thinking of my want to be active with other guys as an addiction sent by the Devil. I was tearing myself apart, telling myself I would just pray enough and get right, and I had to be the hope for others."
"I still have a ton of religious trauma from what happened to me, and even after I initially left the church, I didn't seek help and hurt people I romantically got in touch with. I have a long ways to go, but I'm worlds away from where I used to be. I need to be the best I can be because I never want my future kids to grow up the same way I did."
"I was actually spoken to by a policeman 3 years ago for shoving a gay man after we had a disagreement in a pub. I was very homophobic in every sense. I wouldn't eat the food if the server was gay (couldn't bring myself to eat it), I left my friend group in university after a gay man was joining us. Couldn't see them on tv or listen to gay songs. Things like that."
"It's probably very complex why I hated them so much. A mixture of how they ruined my life and how I didn't want them to contaminate or hurt me. I was married for a few years and eventually I just felt really sick of it. I watched Hannibal the TV show and it was the beginning of coming to terms with it. I have a boyfriend now. He's really nice."
"I grew up in your typical Christian bs, American dysfunctional household, knew really early on in life I wasn't normal so through school I was pretty hateful of gay and especially trans people and wouldn't associate with anyone that was. We had one trans girl in high school that I wouldn't associate with in any way, I didn't make fun of her or say anything awful but I deliberately stayed away from her. In secret I wished I could do the same and not let all the crap people said bother me but I didn't come out until I was 26. I really hate who I used to be and I wish I could do everything over."
19-Golden State Warriors No GIF by NBAGiphy
"I wasn't really a homophobe, but I was a self-homophobe. I respected effeminate and queer guys but any time I had a gay or effeminate thought I'd think "stop being a freaking f*ggot." Even after I figured out I was bi I still struggled with my masculinity for years."
"I'm bi but I started to learn to be more comfortable with myself, as I am sure a lot of us did. We're taught that to be ourselves is a bad thing when it's not. For parents of any kind, let your kid be.
"Just because you're a lesbian, it doesn't make you less of a bein'."- Marge Simpson."
The truth is simple. Don't use that negativity for bad. Release it. Love is love is love. Let's just be people. Rant over.
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Every person, no matter what age has that Oprah "Ah-ha" moment when it comes to the realization about sexual identity. Yes, nowadays, thankfully, it's a more accepting, inclusive world, at least more accepting than it used to be but progress has been made. But before one comes out to the world one must have a self reckoning. And those experiences can often be the most surprising. There is always a moment you can point to and say... "that was when I knew." And those moments can be chill or chuck full of drama.Redditor u/UnsettlingAura wanted to see who would be willing to admit and discuss the moment they realized.... maybe it's time to explore some alternate ideas by asking.... What was your "oh crap I might not be straight" moment?
That Dudesexy boy GIFGiphy
When I said to my friend "This dude is cool, I wouldn't ask him out, but if he asked me I wouldn't refuse" turns out I'm gay and shy.
My therapist was doing a series of quick questions and asked "you like boys?" and I was like "yeah" "and you like girls?" and I said "...no? I don't know?" and he "well, straight people normally answer that one waaay differently"
Then it hit me, at 23, that I'm not straight (might be bi) and finding that actress pretty, fantasizing about a girl 2 years my senior wasn't me "being so ok with being straight that I was ok with having experiences with women" I actually kinda like them so yeah, I was that oblivious.
I used to have this thought to myself in high school about my friend! I really didn't want to be gay. but I had to confront the thought that if she wanted to be my girlfriend, I would have wanted that too.
She didn't, and also I didn't tell anyone haha.
When I was little and whenever I read books about a straight couple in love, and the woman was this fiery goddess, I never wanted to be the gorgeous woman in the book, I was curious about how it felt to fall for one. I loved the idea of it. Then, I started to develop intense crushes on girls.
Met a girl via Twitter through a tag, started talking, then moved to video calls. Every time a notification came up on my phone from her, I got that warm faced, fuzzy chest feeling. "we're just good friends" I said to myself (like a liar). "She's just really sweet and I like talking to her." Four months of this and one day she mentions Philip. I ask her who that is, as I'd never heard the name from her before.
"Oh, that's my boyfriend."
"Oh. Okay. Recent boyfriend?"
"No, we've been together seven years."
Around minute five of crying is when I realized... Crying about that and feeling like I'd gotten my heart broken wasn't normal.
One time in high school, I knew a girl who was really attached to me. I had low self esteem and she would always be happy with me and she would say things like "You look cute today" and "That skirt matches your eyes". I never thought she liked me because I would just think, nobody can like me or I would just think I was lucky to have someone so nice. It was by valentines day she made me chocolate in a little pink lock and lock as she confessed her love to me. I almost fainted as I coughed in shock. Wrong reaction.
She was confused but we talked it out. That year we went to prom together, she was my 1st best kiss that grade, and we were one of the most famous lesbian couples in our school. We later broke up because she was going to her dream college in California and we both agreed a long distance relationship wouldn't be good. Ever since, I knew I was gay af.
I Heart Hermione
Very first clue that I was bi was rewatching Harry Potter when I was 11 and wanting to make out with Hermione super bad. Then when I was 13 me and my friends were all at a sleepover and, since we were horny teens, we played spin the bottle. I got my best friend and it was like the best thing ever.
Lol yes Emma/Hermione was definitely my first celebrity crush.
I did that gay people thing where I was like "I'm obsessed with her because I just want to BE her". It got harder to do that once I starting having crushes on my real life girl friends.
Can't Change the Channel
The day when I was 16 and had just realized that the only porn that i had been watching up to that point for the last 5 years was the gay kind.
You, 5 years later: still watching gay porn
Wait a second...
"We" Love Lucie
When my best friend came out as a lesbian and my brain went automatically "YES WE HAVE A CHANCE WITH HER....... wait" so turns out I'm bi.
Edit: by "we"I mean me (a dummy) and whatever runs my emotions, and no I did not say I had a chance with her out loud
Second edit: For clarification, no, we never got together.
Turns out she was experimenting more than anything else and told me she didn't like women before I could even get the courage to tell her. We stopped being friends shortly after (for different reasons) and I have no way to contact her anymore. She never knew and probably never will. Lucie if you're out there, I don't think about you anymore (except for this moment of my life that, in the end, is more about me than about you) but I once fancied the way you would smile at me a bit too much.
A Girl CrushLove You Smile GIF by The SwoonGiphy
When I was 13/14 I was at a sleepover. We discussed our "boys we fancied list" then our "girl crush list".
They named celebrities, I named like... Holly from Drama Class, one of our female teachers, a girl in the year above. And was yeah "yeah she's pretty and she's so cute when she ...."
I was then informed a girl crush is when you want to BE this person, or be like them.. not be ON THEM or kissing them and holding their hand while you walk round a Christmas market.
And that's how I found out that being attracted to girls wasn't a straight person thing.
EDIT: so turns out a lot of people didn't understand girl crush as this and now I think we should all create a support group and discuss ladies we want to take on a Christmas market date....
I wrote a very long diary entry in late middle school about how beautiful my best friend looked as she slept at a sleepover. I wrote in detail about her fluttering eyelashes, her smooth skin, her parted lips, her deep breathing, etc. I closed it out by saying that I'm not homosexual and I never would be, I just thought my best friend was a beautiful soul.
We started dating a couple months later.
He's a "10!"Reaction GIF by moodmanGiphy
Realizing that a male friend was objectively more attractive than my girlfriend. Took me another 20 years to admit to myself that I was bi, though!
Was year 10 uk (maybe 15). on a school trip to the US, shared a 2 double bed room with 3 upper 6th (17-18) guys, this would be back in 2007ish, when skinny indie kids with greasy hair were the thing. One of them was this guy, who was 18 and I thought he was so mature and grown up, he wore a proper thick woolen trenchcoat and told stories about girls giving bjs under it, which felt like I was talking to some sort of wizard. He had very pale gray blue eyes, but with dark skin and messy curly dark hair so they really stood out.
Anyhoo, they decided that being squeamish around other boys was kinda uncool, so this guy decided after his shower to walk across the room stark bollock naked to get dressed. And he was really thin, but muscular with it, and that was the first time I'd really looked at a penis before, because he stood there toweling off with a bit of a smirk, as if he was trying to make me uncomfortable. I was not uncomfortable.
Megara from Hercules (and Hercules).
Chel from Road to El Dorado.
Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Lola Bunny in Space Jam.
(And quite recently reignited my passion for men too) Zagreus from Hades.
Sitting there googling "am I a lesbian" quizzes lol
Well the first sign probably should've been lil 4th grade me, after learning of the existence of gay people, laying there at night thinking, "aww man, gay girls are so lucky. Wish I could date a girl! Oh well, guess I'll marry a man."
Or the countless times groups of girls would be obsessing over how cute some dude was and I'd be standing there like ???
Or maybe the fantasies I had in 6th grade about me dating a girl I was friends with.
But for some reason I didn't even begin to consider the possibility of not being straight until I got the most intense crush of my life (the kind that physically hurts because you want the other person so badly) on a friend of mine who was a girl. Hence the googling lol. Took me another two or three years to really accept it.
Even now I have a girlfriend and occasionally doubt myself but I know that's just my dumbass brain overthinking everything.
the sex is in the heel....high heels wall GIFGiphy
When I saw a woman dressed in a business suit, but with a skirt. She had on heels and tights with a black line going up the back of her legs. That sight with the click of her heels... I didn't just like boys!
I was reading a blog and it said bisexuality was imagining yourself married to either gender and being happy with it. It's probably not an accurate statement but I figured yeah, I'd be totally fine with either.
Later on I thought about the sex part, was completely repulsed and learned the term 'asexual'.
I really liked the dude and he really liked me to, we were both to shy to say but you could tell from a mile away due to happenings like these, I changed HS on third year and the beautiful love story came to an end, we did meet afterwards and I swear we could have had sex then and there but neither made a move, I'm still in love with that dude and have been in for 9 years since I met him, and I'm afraid next year I'm letting it go, I have to live my life.
Proof at the Louvre....
I don't think I'm gay since in relationship dynamics I much more prefer the company of women. However since the first time I went to the Louvre at 13, I was really fascinated with all those statues and paintings of naked men. So yeah, I'd say a beautiful body is a beautiful body, no matter the sex.
After the ShowerJohn Cusack Film GIFGiphy
i was over my friends house and he took a shower and came back to his room naked and started playing Fortnite naked i was way too interested in looking at him that i knew i wasn't straight.
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How would you like to work in a closet? Stuffy air, not enough light… We've all learned what it means to have to "make do" in less than desirable spaces during the coronavirus shutdowns, but for many transgender people, this discomfort is nothing new.
Andrea Breanna is working to change that.
She founded the highly successful strategic agency and content management system, RebelMouse, before coming out as a transgender lesbian. She believes her coming out story is imperative to the company's success.
"[RebelMouse] did a survey," Andrea tells us, "One of the questions is, 'How safe do you feel being you?' And it was 100%. And I think that's [a] beautiful thing... I should never have hidden it. I never should've stayed in the closet."
Andrea often stresses the suffocation imposed by the closet on individuals and the stagnation it sets on businesses.
"I think the most important impact RebelMouse can have is to inspire young people to help fight back the dark cloak of fear that makes them keep their lives in the closet. I hope our leaders inspire other leaders in other companies to create the types of safe environments that someone could come out and thrive in."
When it comes to representation of her trans peers in tech, she makes a distinction:
"I am less moved, motivated, and inspired by those who have achieved 'visible success' than by those who are struggling against the odds and making it."
Dr. Kortney Ziegler
Dr. Ziegler is of the people Andrea describes. After earning his Ph.D., he founded Trans*H4CK in 2013. The organization was devoted to creating a space for trans people in the California Bay Area's tech sphere.
"I finished my Ph.D. in 2011," he told us, "And it was really difficult for me to find a job. I know this is for LGBT folks, so I'm trans, and I'm really out about my identity. I had an interesting struggle trying to find employment. I ran up against... a lot of anti-trans discrimination. I needed to figure out what to do to not lose my home and my car and all those things that I had at the moment."
Inspired by the tech scene but stalled by the lack of representation, that's when he thought of Trans*H4CK.
"If I can't find a job, I know people who don't have my credentials are probably in way worse situations. So what can I do to kind of leverage being in the tech space and also figuring out how I can use that to help other people to find jobs? So Trans*H4CK was launched as a response to really build technology to make it easier for trans people to sustain our lives."
Trans*H4CK, though no longer in full operation, launched discussions that have since gone on to make the tech sphere a far more inclusive place than it was in 2013 when Ziegler first formed the organization.
"We've been able to really shift the ways that not only smaller folks in tech, but how larger tech organizations operate, as well as helping folks to make their companies more trans-inclusive and respect[ful to] trans people."
The smallest displays of support can build a network that's ultimately life-saving.
"Even if there are no trans employees," Andrea says, "finding a reason to share a story, to put a trans flag up, because it's Pride Month, and if you're a straight CEO and say nothing, you're causing a great deal of pain. And it's one of these moments where it doesn't take a lot, just takes this quick moment of finding some news story to share, something to put in the office or putting it in your signature."
Dr. Ziegler echoes the importance of creating a safe, supportive work environment:
"[M]aking companies inclusive, making people feel safe, adding policies for trans people in the employment policy, making bathrooms safe. I think that there are a number of things that the presence of an organization like Trans*H4CK has contributed to this space."
Andrea Breanna and RebelMouse's success continues to expand with over 55 employees in 26 countries, all of whom work from home. A key to this success in RebelMouse's endeavors and environment has been emphasizing its employees' happiness and personal stability.
"The way we think about it is that there is no such thing as a business decision. It's always a personal decision. And when you put your own personal happiness first in the decision tree, a lot of magical things happen. We, for some reason, tend to put happiness last. Happiness is the most important measure of our lives," Andrea says.