Of course this week I have to write about Jason Collins. If you missed it, he is the first gay athlete to come out while playing. He is in the NBA and is now a free agent.
His article in Sports Illustrated made me smile. It’s nice to hear someone talk about wanting to be authentic, how sharing more of who they are helps them sleep better at night, and how we can’t wait for everything to be perfect (whatever that is) to be who we are. Fear is a terrible thing to live with – it robs us of choice, of a full life, and of dreams. It also undermines relationships and the reaching of our potential.
One day, I hope that being a gay athlete doesn’t cause the stir Jason Collins’ coming out did. But until then, I applaud his courage to be the first, and therefore a role model for gay kids everywhere.
Inclusive spaces allow us to be authentic. Being authentic allows people to see who we are, and to reconsider their stereotypes and assumptions. Being our whole selves out loud allows us to connect and build real relationships. This is just as important in the workplace (where studies show that people work better with people they know even just a little bit) as it is in our personal lives. Inclusive spaces create the safety required for people to consider coming out. It’s always a personal choice if and when to come out, but the clues an inclusive space offers (language, visual cues, policies, etc) make it easier to be authentic when one is ready.
Copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion