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Two Years of Growth and Openness: An Advocate’s Journey

Two years ago, I faced great unknowns. The loss of my job at a homophobic religious institution left me reeling. I didn't know what the future held.

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Two years ago, I faced great unknowns. The loss of my job at a homophobic religious institution left me reeling. I didn’t know what the future held.

Walking a Tightrope

Each new day felt like walking a tightrope. My life balanced between the exhilaration of freedom and the fear of judgment. As I navigated this unfamiliar terrain, I found myself questioning long-held beliefs and re-evaluating relationships. The process both liberated and terrified me, as I slowly shed the layers of pretense I had built up over the years. Day by day, I stepped tentatively into a new life, one where I could finally be open about my sexuality.

The fear and uncertainty of those days still remain vivid in my memory. I remember my racing heartbeat before coming out to friends, the sleepless nights worrying about family reactions, and the constant vigilance in public spaces. Moments of doubt crept in when I wondered if I had made the right choice, times when the weight of societal expectations threatened to push me back into the closet. But with each honest conversation and every authentic interaction, I felt my resolve strengthen.

The Palpable Relief

Equally vivid in my memory is the sense of relief that came with finally living authentically. The joy of being true to myself permeated every aspect of my life, from my relationships to my work. I discovered a newfound energy and creativity that came from no longer expending effort on hiding a fundamental part of who I am. Living authentically meant embracing all facets of myself, leading to a profound sense of inner peace and self-acceptance. While challenges remained, the freedom to be myself was worth every moment of struggle.

When I look back at the person I was two years ago – newly unemployed, freshly out of the closet, and sharing my story through online articles and shaky podcast interviews – I barely recognize myself. The last 734 days have taken me on a journey of growth, challenges and unexpected joys.

I feel deeply grateful for how far I’ve come. The path hasn’t always been easy, but each step has led me to a fuller, more genuine version of myself. From those first nervous interviews to where I am now, I’ve learned invaluable lessons about resilience, self-acceptance, and the power of living one’s truth.

Transformative Workplace

Today, I work for the American Heart Association, a truly rewarding experience that fills me with pride and purpose every day. As a regional marketing communications director, I have the privilege to be part of an organization that not only saves lives but also champions diversity and inclusion in all aspects of its work.

Last week, I had the honor of editing CEO Nancy Brown’s executive address for the Association’s annual Pride celebration, a testament to its commitment to recognizing and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. This experience reinforced the joy I feel in contributing to an organization that values and celebrates all voices.

As the Association enters its second century of life-saving impact, its dedication to health equity for all has become more apparent than ever. The Association’s mission to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives extends to everyone, regardless of their background or identity. Being part of an organization that strives to embody diversity, equity, and inclusion in its daily operations and long-term goals is not just professionally fulfilling, but personally enriching as well.

Since I began working with the American Heart Association in July of 2022 I’ve had countless opportunities to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community. The chance to be an advocate for creating a healthier, more inclusive world, not just in my community and city but across the country, is a real privilege.

Looking Forward

As I reflect on the past two years, I’m reminded that change, while often difficult, can lead to incredible growth and opportunities. I’m learning the power of living authentically. I keenly feel the importance of supportive environments in my personal and professional life.

Looking ahead, I don’t feel the uncertainty I felt opening the closet door. Today, I’m filled with hope and excitement for what the future holds. My journey has taught me that authenticity and self-acceptance are the keys to a fulfilling life.

As I continue to grow both personally and professionally, I’m committed to using my voice and experiences to help create a more inclusive world. The challenges I’ve faced have made me stronger, and I’m ready to embrace whatever comes next with an open heart and unwavering spirit.

Today, as I stand proud of who I am and the work I do, I’m acutely aware of how far society has come in accepting LGBTQ+ individuals – and how far we still have to go. My experience has shown me the vital importance of representation and advocacy in all spheres of life.

As I move forward in my career and personal life, I’m committed to being a visible, vocal ally for those still struggling to find acceptance. Together, we can create a world where no one has to choose between their identity and their career, where diversity is celebrated and where everyone can thrive as their authentic selves.