How coming out made our lives pretty great.

National Coming Out Day is October 11, and we at Jet are all about celebrating uniqueness and being your true self. We believe in bringing your whole self to work, and celebrating what makes our team and our customers special every day of the year.

We asked a few Jet team members to share how coming out has helped and benefitted them, in the workplace and their own lives.  Not a bad looking bunch, either.

Jesse

Jesse

How did coming out enable you to become your best self – both inside and outside of the workplace?

Coming out changed everything for me. I spent so many years in the closet conflicted with who I was/who I should be. Hiding who I was from the world really inhibited my personal development, so when I was able to admit to myself and to everyone else that I’m gay, I finally felt free to explore and celebrate who I really am, thus my best self made its debut. Coming out gave me the opportunity to share my true thoughts and opinions without reservation or fear of being “caught,” so I reclaimed the time spent trying to appear straight and focused more on building meaningful relationships both in the workplace and out.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give yourself?

I’d say that being gay is something to be celebrated. It’s an asset, not a hindrance—live your life as your truest self and you’ll find the ultimate success and happiness. LYLAS.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally – please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

For me, a huge piece of being a successful professional is building strong and meaningful relationships with business partners and fellow coworkers, some of whom are also gay. Without these relationships, I wouldn’t be as far along in my career as I am today. I avoided building relationships with gay people while I was closeted because I was afraid they’d see themselves in me and— God forbid — out me. It’s a thing I experience from the other side too, as I’ve encountered guys I suspect are gay who make every effort to keep from interacting with me. It makes me sad to see, but I understand why. The same holds true with my relationships with women. It’s easy to spot a gay person when he’s the only guy in a sea of girls, so maintaining a ratio deemed acceptably straight was important too. Coming out dissolved all of these worries. I was able to build quality relationships with people without the closet anxiety, and my career has benefited from it.

 

Noah
Noah
How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?
I came out my freshman year of college. As soon as I started telling my friends and family I had a boyfriend, I immediately felt a sense of relief and elation. I no longer had to hide and morph my true identity into different personas. This feeling of freedom is indescribable, although it took a while for me to gather up enough courage to get there.
I’ve been fortunate enough to always work for LGBT-friendly employers. I’ve never had to live in the closet at work. I have close friends who are out and proud in their personal lives yet slide back into the closet. I recognize how fortunate I am.
Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?
Your friends and family will always love you. Nothing will change that, so love who you love, and it does get better. So much better.
If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).
Being out to my team at Jet allows me to be a better colleague and manager. By living my true self in the office, my team is encouraged to bring their true selves to the table. This is where the magic happens, and people can begin to do their best work.
As people leaders, it’s our responsibility to create an environment of inclusivity within our teams, and this starts from the top. Sharing a core piece of my identity with my colleagues and team encourages others to do the same – and the ripple effect is fantastic.

adam

Adam 

How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?

For me, coming out wasn’t like this big weight off my shoulders like some other people have described. It was a huge relief to come out, knowing that the information was out in the open, but really it served as a platform to begin working on becoming comfortable with myself.

Both inside and out of the workplace, I’ve found coming out to have been helpful because it was a key step in letting my guard down and feeling confidence in displaying and communicating my own authenticity. In my opinion no one is ever at the end of their journey of discovering who they are and how to communicate that, but it’s more of a lifetime discovery path that people have varying degrees of success and progress with. The more I’ve become comfortable with my authentic self, the more confident I’ve become, and I’ve been able to communicate who I am and do so much more professionally and socially because of that.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?

I’d tell myself that being awkward and strange will one day be one of your biggest strengths, you just have no idea yet. Being memorable doesn’t happen by following the rules :blush:

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

Mostly it’s helped me focus more on work and less my discomforts. Being in the closet, or being uncomfortable with how you present yourself in any way can be a huge professional distraction and a deterrence. In my opinion when people say “it’s important you bring your whole self to work,” they really mean that if you’re spending energy trying to be someone else, you’re not putting that energy toward your work and being productive. Ideally, I’d like to spend no energy on worrying about who I am and how I portray myself, and all of it on what I’m doing. I’m still working on it, but getting there! 

 

joe

Joe

How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?

Coming out was the last thing in my life for which I felt I needed to systematically “apologize.” At work, I’d be sure to use vague pronouns when asked about a significant other. When chatting with friends I didn’t know all that well, I’d actually say “girlfriend” when I was talking about my then-boyfriend.

This all changed when I began the process of coming out, something that sounds so singular but utterly continuous. I began to take ownership of who I was and how I felt. I began to celebrate and feel accepted in my community. I finally realized that it wasn’t a fault of who I was for loving who I did, but a lack of understanding on those who would pass judgement. This enabled me to go into interviews proud of the work I did with Out in Tech or ERGs, wear clothes I found appealing without feeling shame for them being categorically “gay,” or simply walk down the street hand-in-hand with a member of the same sex.

Coming out is a universal activity, as people are realizing and coming to terms with themselves throughout their lives, whether that be related to sexuality or otherwise. It’s just as important to have compassion for those who don’t see the world as you do; they’ll come around quicker with your support.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?

I’d encourage my 18-year-old self to embrace what makes him unique and to do things in life because they are rewarding, not because they’ll impress others. I’ve found that, the more I focus on my well-being and confidence, I became more “impressive” than I ever was trying to be just that. Most people are looking for the same things in life: acceptance and love. Show people those two things and those that belong in your life will find their way into it.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

I’m wrapping up my first quarter at Jet, and have found that being a proud, open member of the LGBTQ+ community has already afforded me unique opportunities to make a difference in the company. I, along with two other employees, re-founded the Jet PRIDE ARG, securing executive sponsorship and the attention of Jet’s President, Liza Landsman. I’m currently the head of the New York City chapter of Out in Tech, a non-profit that unites the LGBTQ+ tech community, and am exposed to out leaders at the world’s largest tech companies, as well as a behemoth network of like-minded technically-inclined people.

Celebrate who you are, how you are, and what you are.

chris

Chris 

How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?

I didn’t even realize I was gay until my late 20s. I actually looked up “can you realize you are gay at 30?!” Turns out, yes. Once I realized my true self and started dating, I wasn’t locked into gender norms like I had always been. Before, I was most interested in my boyfriends’ hobbies and life, becoming his biggest fan and getting into the things he liked to do. After coming out, I looked closer at the things that brought me joy, and then found a partner with like-minded interests.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?

Don’t worry about the boys. You will meet a nice girl one day.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

Once I came out, I also opened myself to fuller opportunities and was willing to give myself permission to take risks that I wouldn’t have in my twenties.

 

Mark 

Mark

How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?

I didn’t realize how much effort I was putting into hiding. Once I came out and started opening up, I was able to use that energy in more constructive ways. It was at that point that I really started to learn more about myself and grow as an individual.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk – what advice would you give to yourself?

Take life one day at a time and learn to love yourself.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

Having come out long before starting my time with Jet, I found Jet has empowered me to work harder than I ever have before. Jet’s inclusive environment allows me to bring my whole self to work everyday, allowing me to focus on advancing my career.

 

Lyz

Lyz

How did coming out enable you to become your best self – both inside and outside of the workplace?

This is probably the closest I have ever come to an official coming out moment, next to that time when I was 10 and asked my mom if I was gay. Her answer? “I don’t know honey, you’ll figure it out someday.” Best mom advice ever. I’ve actually never spoken about it before in a work setting but Jet believes strongly that your full self is a professional asset — hence my decision to do it now!

I have always felt that (and went on long diatribes about) sexuality being a fluid and changing thing —  it just took me a while to realize that I was talking about myself, and trying in an abstract way to tell other people something about me.

Outside the workplace, it is just part of who I am, I’ve rarely encountered even an eye blink about it – more of a nod and a “yeah, that makes sense.” I have been in a serious relationship with a lovely 6’4” dude with a beard for a long time, so although my love for both genders will always be a part of me and my experience, it’s not apparent unless you know me super well. Until now!

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?

I would take my little teen face in my hands and say “Babe, RELAX.” I was so high-strung and obsessed with being perfect and making everyone in my life proud of me, I prioritized the way other people saw me rather than who I actually was. I would tell myself that it’s okay to confuse people sometimes, that living in your truth is the most important way to live, and you don’t have to give yourself specific labels that fit with who people see you as. Feel your feelings first. You’re way more than enough already. Leave your eyebrows alone.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

What I have learned most in the past few years is anything that feels inherently truthful to who you are can’t be anything but good. Good art and good work comes from that journey.

 

eduardo

Eduardo
How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?
I was able to be completely honest with myself and start a journey of self-love. When I came out, my walls came down. I was able to really start to fall in love with myself, flaws and all. I was able to take in pride in my strengths and create real relationships with the people around me.
Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?
I would tell my 18-year-old self, that everything is ACTUALLY going to turn out amazing. That as scary as the idea was to come out, it will be one of the most liberating experiences you’ll ever have. And you’ll shine brighter than you ever believed you would.
If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally — please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).
I was able to really shake my insecurities which empowered me to seek a career I dreamed of but never thought I could achieve — graphic designer. By coming out, I was able to trust my instincts and by doing so I’ve been able to create beautiful artwork. One of my favorite highlights career-wise has been designing Jet’s Pride activation, including the float! It was an empowering moment to be able to design artwork that would be seen my millions of my LGBTQ family.

 

ben

Ben

How did coming out enable you to become your best self — both inside and outside of the workplace?

Coming out helped me to become my best self in the workplace by alleviating the burden of having to hide anything. All the mental energy that would have been put into conforming and censoring myself can instead be channeled into something productive.

Outside of the workplace, coming out has given me more liberty to explore my creative side. I sought out the safe spaces created for queer people to express themselves and their genders freely and this openness to experiment also helped me learn more about myself. Being immersed in LGBTQ culture in New York has also been a great entry point into creative circles of artists, performers, designers, and photographers who I wouldn’t necessarily ever meet otherwise. It is a huge privilege to be out in a city like New York and it never fails to leave me inspired.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk — what advice would you give to yourself?

The things that make you unique are your best assets and are nothing to be ashamed of. ALWAYS play up your best assets.

Be okay with uncertainty of where life will take you and enjoy the journey. You are only 18, and coming out doesn’t mean you need to have an answer when your grandparents ask you whether you plan to ever get married or have kids. See where life takes you!

Don’t harp on labels, as there is no word that can perfectly encompass who you are. It’s fine to use a label to easily communicate to others how you most closely identify, but language evolves, new words are created, and changing the label doesn’t change who you are. If you feel that labeling yourself as “non-binary”, “queer”, “gay”, “gender non-conforming”, etc helps you feel more empowered to live your life as your best self, then go for it. The label really shouldn’t matter though.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally – please share a bit about how it’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere).

Workplace diversity is important and has real impacts. LGBTQ people certainly bring diverse ideas and experiences to the table, and I think this can translate to success professionally in environments like Jet where diversity is valued.

I also think that in any professional environment, people are bound to make personal connections with others and those connections can empower them to be more successful. In a previous company I worked for, both the CMO and Creative Director were openly LGBTQ and as a result I felt that they were willing to go out of their way to give me advice, mentorship, or advocate for my professional development.

 

travis

Travis

How did coming out enable you to become your best self – both inside and outside of the workplace? 

In terms of coming to work, unless you feel completely comfortable with what you bring to the table, you can’t bring your full self to the table, so everyone misses out, including you. Outside of the workplace, coming out allowed me to do the same – I was finally able to let people know the real me.

Imagine you’re giving your 18-year-old self a pep talk – what advice would you give to yourself? 

You’ve got this, so much more than you even realize today.

If you feel that coming out has empowered you to become more successful professionally – please share a bit about how It’s enabled your experience while working at Jet (or elsewhere). 

Similar to the above, diverse companies are more successful. As a gay man, I bring a different perspective to the teams I am on and add to their success as a result.

 

Photo Studio: Chris Ritter/Emily Kinsolving

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