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Coming out is an extraordinarily personal journey that many LGBTQIA+ people embark on as an early step to living open and authentic lives. More than just an act of telling the truth about oneself, when someone comes out, they create visibility and claim space in the world. That is a radical and brave act that Macmillan Learning’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group, Proud@ML, is happy to celebrate.
Today Proud@ML shared its second annual National Coming Out Day storytelling project, where employees once again had the privilege to share a bit of their lived experience of coming out from within Macmillan Learning. This year Proud@ML also made space for employees to share their perspectives on supporting a loved one’s coming out.
Each story is unique, and Proud@ML is so grateful to those who took the time to share their stories with us. Celebrate National Coming Out Day with us by learning more about our employees’ coming out experiences.
From our LGBTQIA+ identifying colleagues:
Why was it important for you to come out?
“Coming out was important to me because I knew there were others like me (Mexican American gay men) and wanted to show them it is possible to be happy, loved, and even successful in predominately white straight spaces.” –Tony Villasenor, Senior Sales Rep
“The first person I truly came out to was my dad. It was important to me that coming out was a deliberate decision. I grew up in the south, so in my mind coming out was taking the stance that my truth, life, and love were too important to suppress, even against the homophobic rhetoric that was so prevalent in my childhood.” –Calyn Clare Liss, Editorial Assistant
How did coming out affect your sense of self or your understanding of your own identity?
“Being an openly gay man allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people who helped shape me into the man I am today. Their love and affection gave me the courage to do things that would have scared me previously and it helped me become a more positive person overall.” –Jeffrey LeGrand-Douglass, Senior Specialist, Conference, Meetings & Events
“I didn’t know how resilient, resourceful and capable I was until life threw some challenges at me that required me to rise to the moment. I am a bit of a gentle giant, I consider myself wise, and I am sharp-tongued. Those traits developed out of my coming out experience. I had been raised to understand that gay meant weak, different, even abnormal. I certainly didn’t accept that assertion and have fought hard against it.” –Anonymous
“When I first came out, I felt like I was a complete person for the first time. I was liberated from the exhaustion of compartmentalizing myself.” –Adam Whitehurst, Director of Media Editorial, Humanities, & Proud@ML Co-Lead
If you could offer your younger self advice about coming out, what would that advice be?
“Be yourself, and the friends and family who don’t accept that do not truly care about you and the ones who do are worth it!” –Indigo Carr, Editorial Assistant
From allies at Macmillan Learning:
How did your loved one’s coming out affect your relationship with them?
“I believe we are stronger for it, and I have so much respect and awe for her. I see more confidence in her, more passion as she openly embraces her interests and talks about LGBTQIA+ media, and above all, she is so much happier than she was as a child, which makes me indescribably happy.” –Anonymous
“I think she is able to be her authentic self, which actually allows me to get along better with her compared to when we were kids. I get to better understand who she is and what she dealt with throughout her life.” –Sean Jenkins, Associate Digital Initiatives Specialist
“I have experienced this with a handful of friends and family members. In each case, it definitely brought us closer. I felt extremely honored that they chose to come out to me and it really opened the door for deeper, more meaningful conversations about everything going on in their lives, not just their queerness.” –Heather Christian, Senior Content Production Manager
Resources for Coming Out
The Trevor Project – The Coming Out Handbook
PFLAG – Coming Out