When I first got to HBS I wasn’t sure about a lot of things – one of them being if I would be out as a member of LGBT community or not.  I hadn’t been out at work prior to school, and I wasn’t sure how supportive the HBS community would be.     

When I got to campus second year students from the LGBTSA introduced us to an annual event at HBS (and worldwide) called National Coming Out Day.  The LGBTSA organizes a number of events on campus throughout the day, including a lunchtime talk for each section that is optional for students to attend.  It is an opportunity for LGBT students and allies to share stories on LGBT issues.  

After hearing about the event, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate; the thought of sharing a personal story in front of 92 of my new section mates was intimidating. One of my goals coming into HBS was to build authentic relationships. That goal, combined with some encouragement from my friends, made me decide to share my story.

When I got to Aldrich 111, I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost every seat was filled with classmates and professors who volunteered their time to hear our stories.  Three section mates and I shared a variety of stories about coming out to parents, friends, and co-workers - and we were especially lucky to have a variety international viewpoints because the four of us were from the South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, and the United States.  

Due to some lingering nerves I wasn’t sure what my classmates thought of our presentation.  Those concerns were immediately alleviated as dozens of classmates hugged us and thanked us for sharing our stories.  I was instantly reassured and grateful to be part of such an incredibly inclusive community.  

In the days, weeks and months after National Coming Out Day I received dozens of messages, emails, and letters. Many people reached out to share personal stories and talked about how honored they were that we had spoken about our experiences. 

Some classmates hadn’t had any exposure to the LGBT community prior to that day and I had a number of honest, raw, and eye opening conversations that led to learning on both sides.  Many section mates said it was one of the events that brought our section much closer and inspired others to share their stories, which continues to this day.

I had a misconception that HBS wouldn’t be a friendly place to be an out LGBT student and I am pleased to say that has been proven to be completely wrong.  National Coming Out Day was one of my favorite days at HBS (so far) and I am so blessed to be at a place where I am embraced and respected for who I am.