Being out is usually thought of as good for the person who comes out. Virtually everyone who has come out, myself included, can attest to the relief felt upon letting go of the anxiety and stress of hiding one’s true self. However, one’s being out is also good for other people too – though I don’t think that fact is underscored nearly as often.

I first came out as gay at 18 years old, when I started university. My arrival in a new city seemed like a timely opportunity to embrace my true self. Candidly, I was thinking only of myself when I resolved to tell people that I was gay. I wanted my orientation to be known. I wanted it to drift into the social ether, like an invisible invitation for friendship and romance to other gay men on and off the campus. Happily, it worked.

As with many American gay men of my age, my young adulthood was an oyster. I had scant responsibilities and few things to tie me down. My life was filled with weeknight drinks with dates, Sunday fundays with acquaintances, and occasional cross-country trips with friends. Being out meant independence, freedom, and happiness—something that I did for myself.

Life passes by in seasons, and my singledom was a spring destined to turn into summer. I met my now husband as I was turning thirty. He knew, on our first date at the seafood restaurant I had chosen (even though, unbeknownst to me, he didn’t like seafood), that we would eventually get married. On my part, it took me longer to realize that our bond was, and would forever be, deep and lasting. After I finally realized that, we got married.

So, what does it mean to “be out” at my current season in life, now that I am married and entering middle age?

Being gay is not something I could ever really hide well. My same-sex marriage is now a matter of public record. Anyone who walks into my office can see the photograph of my husband and me together. And I’d be quite surprised if any of my neighbors thought my husband and I were platonic housemates.

This is not to say that my being out does not matter anymore. It does matter. It’s just that I now see how my being out has been good for other people besides myself.

By me being out within my family, my family members have been able to bond with the person who is the love of my life. My husband, who is deeply caring, funny, and thoughtful, has built his own close relationships with them, which has knitted all of us even closer together.

Moreover, because I am out at work, I am a visible example to my colleagues that anyone can find belonging and success at our firm.

It is especially important that I and other firm leaders are out so that my LGBTIQ+ colleagues know that being their authentic self won’t impede on their rise here.

Finally, because I am out in the world, I am making life better for my daughter, who was born earlier this year. As she grows up, seeing her gay parents proud of themselves wherever they go, will give her permission to be proud of herself too.

I invite my out LGBTIQ+ colleagues to reflect on how their own visibility and authenticity can positively impact the people around them. It gives us all only more reason to live proudly.

Pride month

Pride month