Out and proud: Being gay in the workplace during Pride
by Maggie Jordan
I quit my first job out of college less than two weeks into training after the organization discriminated against me for being gay.
My coming out story was defined by incredible privilege up until that point. My family and friends were wonderfully accepting, I rarely experienced fear in public places because of my sexual orientation, and my first serious girlfriend turned out to be the love of my life.
Leaving the safety of my liberal university changed everything. Deep down I knew that the world can be unforgiving and cruel to members the LGBTQ community, particularly to our trans siblings and people of color. But to be publicly outed, shamed, and threatened in the workplace… it simply had not occurred to me as a possibility, especially within the context of a non-profit organization.
To say I was reeling from the loss would be an understatement.
I had decided to stay in Providence after graduating from Brown; however, as the vast majority of my friends left to start jobs in exciting new cities, I found myself unemployed and alone, in a city that no longer felt like home.
I had the financial security and educational privilege to get myself out of a bad situation and trust that I would be able to find another job. But it didn’t happen overnight; I was terrified to even begin looking, for fear that I would wind up in another position where I might be intimidated into being untrue to myself.
Fortunately, that’s not what happened.
I am openly gay in all of my day-to-day interactions, both professional and personal; it’s really an integral part of my job experience, because it’s an integral part of who I am. One of my passions is identifying and working with therapists who are committed to providing culturally competent and intersectionally informed care to LGBTQ folks. Everyone deserves to feel safe in therapy, and I get to spend my days ensuring they do.
My first day at Zencare was also my first day sitting on the board of Project Fearless, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to mental health care in the LGBTQ community. This year, Project Fearless was selected for the high honor of leading the Rhode Island Pride parade.
Pride month originated as the anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots, when members of the queer community rose up against police violence. Undoubtedly, Pride month has its faults; it is highly commercialized, fraught with divisions within the community, and is too often an excuse for people of all orientations to behave badly. But it would be a mistake to overlook the historical and personal significance Pride holds for many members of the community. This Pride month, I can’t help but reflect on where I was less than a year ago, and the mistreatment, violence, and threats to safety that so many members of our community continue to experience in public spaces on a daily basis.
And then I stop, and I think about where I am now. While the battle for equality is far from over, when I serve as a parade grand marshall, and hold a corner of the rainbow flag alongside my team members, I will be bursting with Pride.
Maggie Jordan is Zencare's Therapist Success Manager. She is deeply committed to increasing access to care by streamlining the therapist search process, and particularly enjoys connecting LGBTQ+ folks with culturally competent therapists. She is a graduate of Brown University where she competed as a varsity swimmer.