Waving My Rainbow Flag
As a queer woman of color, my identities are something that I think about all the time; in every aspect of my life, they are present and I can’t change them. I am very proud of my identities and at this point in my life, I never want to hide who I am. Being queer, however, means that coming out is part of the process of bringing my full, authentic self to any space I occupy. When you come out for the first time, you don’t actually realize how many times you will come out in your lifetime and it is never an easy thing, no matter how many times you do it. But it is a reality for me as I want to be open and honest about who I am, even at work.
When I became an AmeriCorps member with City Year Chicago, I knew that this new job would be no exception and I knew I would have to come out to my team. Even though I knew City Year is an accepting and loving place, there was still a bit of doubt because there is always an underlying fear that people will treat me differently once they find out. Despite the doubt and fear, I knew I could not live authentically if the people that I would be working with for 10-12 hours a day didn’t truly know who I was.
So I worked up the courage and came out to my team – and my team has been so supportive. Not once have I felt unwelcome with my team, and that makes coming to work so easy and I feel great knowing that I can be my true self at work. Being a woman of color will always be my most salient identity because the color of my skin will always be the first thing people see when they look at me. On the other hand, my queerness is not as obvious but it is equally as important of identity to me so I knew coming out would be necessary. I love and appreciate my team so much for being so accepting because I have felt like I can be 100% myself around them.
I get to talk about my experience as a queer person in City Year with other people who share similar experiences.
The other great part about being out at work is being a part of CY Pride. CY Pride is the identity group for anyone who identifies as queer at City Year Chicago. I love this group because I get to talk about my experience as a queer person in City Year with other people who share similar experiences. Serving in schools and being queer can be difficult and a lot to process but having a group of people that I can talk to about my experience is one of my favorite things. It has made my experience in City Year particularly meaningful and I’m grateful to have that space to process such an important part of my experience and journey with others who understand me.
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