Becoming Visible: Why I Came Out At Work

June 11th, 2020

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2-min Read

By Amanda Fish, Executive Assistant at Techstars

I am proud to work at Techstars. I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. And I am proud to be out at work — although I didn’t always feel this way. 

My coming out story starts with my 25th birthday and a quarter-life crisis. At the time, I was in a heterosexual relationship, but my gut instinct kept quietly saying, “something’s not right.” I broke down in tears and spent my entire 25th birthday sobbing, knowing what I thought was the reason for my reaction but unsure of the words to say it and too afraid to step into my truth. 

I broke up with my boyfriend. I joined a meetup group for gay ladies. And I took baby step after baby step to reconcile the feelings bubbling within. 

But by the time I was able to confidently say “I’m gay” to friends and family, I realized that there was another hurdle to cross — my colleagues. 

Prior to joining Techstars, I worked in Big Law — a conservative, old school, boys club kinda place. Some of my close work friends knew that I was dating a woman (who would then become my fiancée) but I came to the realization that I’d never be totally comfortable being out while I worked there. What would people think of me? What would they say? When colleagues mis-gendered my partner, I quietly seethed and hoped that one day I wouldn’t have to choose between work-life and life-life. 

When I started interviewing for new opportunities, the ability to be out in the workplace was a top priority. It felt too uncomfortable after all those years of struggling and identity searching to land a new career and present only part of who I am. Just as plenty of folks share with colleagues that they’re married, have two kids, a dog, whatever, I also wanted to share that my partner is a woman simply because that’s something that makes me, me. 

My colleagues at Techstars welcomed me (and my partner) with open arms, and because of that I know that workplace visibility is incredibly important. Simply being able to mention her in passing conversation has changed how I present myself at work. I don’t have to hold my tongue, or use her androgynous name to pass, or have lingering concerns of “What if someone finds out?” 

Because I know what it’s like to be invisible, that makes me even more proud to stand up and say to my colleagues — this is me. This is who I am. I’m gay and proud of it. 

#Women#Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion#Feature

About the Author

Amanda Fish

Amanda Fish is an executive assistant at Techstars, where she supports the CFO and General Counsel. She spent a decade working for law firms in Los Angeles before relocating to Colorado when her partner, Alex, began medical school. Amanda spends her free time cooking vegetarian food, practicing yoga, and hiking with Alex and their dog.