SHL Celebrates Coming Out Day with Employee Coming Out Stories
In celebration of Coming Out Day, three SHL employees have shared their coming out stories.
On October 11th, many countries recognize Coming Out Day. This is an important day for the LGBTQIA+ community as we celebrate the courage of individuals who bravely announced their true selves to the world. Every individual is unique, and the same can be said about their coming out story. Many people fear coming out as LGBTQIA+ for fear of rejection, isolation, or even violence. Three SHL employees from across the globe were brave enough to share their coming out stories for this blog post.
Our hope is that sharing these stories helps those LGBTQIA+ individuals who are not out know that, while coming out is a challenge, there are many people in their lives who will continue to love and support them. If you are LGBTQIA+ and would like to speak to a counselor, we recommend reaching out to the Trevor Project.
While coming out is a challenge, there are many people in their lives who will continue to love and support them.
Story 1: It was not perfect, but it was better than my worst fears
“I need to tell everyone something... Hi, this... is me coming out as trans... You can call me River."
It was a cold January. We were gathering to clean out my grandparent’s house. It was only the second time my extended family had gotten together since covid. I had to get up at 5 AM to make the convoluted journey by rail by myself. It was so surreal - still early in the morning, walking the last mile to this place I'd spent so much of my youth in, yet had not visited in more than a decade, on a trek to an uncertain end. Deja vu and fatigue were layered on top of the weight and uncertainty of my task.
It was already an emotionally charged day. The house had been sold, and once it was cleared out, none of us would ever step foot in it again. It was a strange shell of the place we'd all known, haunted by the ghosts of our grandparents and those who'd lived there after them. I almost didn't go through with coming out. I waited until everyone was together, then just as we were about to bend to the work of the day, I quelled the ineffable bundle of nerves inside, hoisted myself up onto a chest freezer, and got everyone's attention.
In hindsight, you can never really prepare for such things. There were tears of joy, hugs, affirmation, and acceptance from some. Others were more stoic, quiet, even confused. Not everyone got it; some still don't get it. It was not perfect, but it was better than my worst fears. My mother would tell me later that "it was a bad day, except for you. You were the only good thing about that day.
"It was a bad day, except for you. You were the only good thing about that day.”
Story 2: I truly believe that one day I will not struggle with coming out to people
Raised by religious parents, I was taught that girls marry boys…period! It wasn’t until my late 30s, three children later, and the end of a 16-year marriage that I realized I was not attracted to men, but rather women. When I started sharing the news to my family and friends, like most stories, I received a lot of open arms, but also closed doors. The closed doors have not been easy, but I am reminded daily by my wife to focus on the open arms. The family that didn’t judge, the friends that praise us for raising children to love no matter what even though we live in a world of hatred. I struggle most days having to come out to people. While 99% of the time it is positive, that 1% haunts me. When I joined SHL, I worried that my lifestyle would impact how people saw me or that it would make people feel like I couldn’t do my job. Obviously, not the case, but that is a mindset I still have.
When I finally had the courage to share my very private life with my team, it was like a weight off my shoulders. I got asked about my family and we just carried on with work. At the end of the day, everyone has their comfort level; everyone internalizes their own fears. I truly believe that one day I will not struggle with coming out to people, but for now, I am most appreciative of the love and support I get from everyone at SHL.
When I finally had the courage to share my very private life with my team, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Story 3: Being proud of who I am as an individual
My name is Lozzie (she/they), and I work in the HR Benefits team in the UK. Growing up I had never considered I could be anything other than a straight woman, though I would joke about having girl crushes and never felt "feminine" enough.
From 19-25, I was in a long-term relationship with a man. He would say it was strange that I noticed beautiful women before he did or that I didn't shave my legs frequently. It was only after coming out of that relationship that I started to question my identity.
I struggled through it alone for some time but eventually decided to talk to my parents. I knew in my heart of hearts that they are open-minded and it would be fine, but still had such a sense of panic. “What if this was something they couldn't accept?!” You hear so many stories of parents changing after a child comes out. Very tearfully and hesitantly I told them I thought I was bisexual, and my dad high-fived me! I couldn't help but laugh. They both hugged me and told me the main thing is I'm happy.
As time has gone on, I've been able to understand myself more and be proud of who I am as an individual. In my late 20's, I started to identify with the broader terms queer and non-monogamous. In my early 30's, I was diagnosed as neurodivergent and realized how uncomfortable I felt around binary gender concepts.
I'm not a fan of society's urge to place us into neatly labeled boxes. When people ask what it means to be queer or non-binary, I ask what it means to them. At the end of the day, we are all unique and beautiful no matter how we identify or present to the world. But I know it is a privilege to be able to exist authentically, which is why I am a passionate advocate for education and inclusion. I'm also always happy to listen if anyone needs a safe haven. At the end of the day, we are all unique and beautiful no matter how we identify or present ourselves to the world. SHL values what makes every employee unique.
At the end of the day, we are all unique and beautiful no matter how we identify or present ourselves to the world.
We thank these three brave employees for sharing their stories, and we look forward to hearing more stories in the years to come.
Employees who feel welcome, respected, and represented at work are better performing in their roles. Check out our LGBTQIA+ collection for more.