PRIDE is HBS's home for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning MBA students and their partners. PRIDE builds community through dedicated social and advocacy programming, and in doing so create a supportive environment for emerging leaders to engage meaningfully with one another, connect with employers seeking diverse talent, and drive thought leadership in key areas of business and management. 

Here, three current MBA students discuss their experiences as LGBTQ+ students in the PRIDE community.

Mindy Huynh (MBA 2021)

I came out after college and didn’t have a community that supported and guided me along the way. As a result, one of my priorities upon entering business school was to be more involved in the LGBTQ+ community. So naturally, when I heard about HBS’ unique initiatives, portrait projects, and MyTakes during National Coming Out Day, I jumped at the opportunity.

We kicked off the first week of October with the National Coming Out Day portrait project series. About a dozen or so members of PRIDE, including myself, volunteered to share our personal coming out stories alongside our headshots at Spangler Hall. It was such an honor and gift to learn all the different struggles, love, and paths people went through during their coming out journeys. No one story was the same. Yet each story was as inspiring as the next. 

The following week, sections took turns over the course of two days holding MyTakes during lunch. MyTakes, in general, is a student-run initiative where a couple of HBS students volunteer each month to share anything in their lives to the broader HBS community. In commemoration of National Coming Out Day, individuals shared their coming out stories in their sections. Some even invited professors to join. It was one of the most vulnerable experiences and powerful moments I’ve been a part of to-date. For me, I was trembling with excitement, fear, and anxiety all at the same time. I had only known these people for six weeks, and here I am, getting emotionally naked in front of 93 other strangers. But all of these concerns were brushed aside as my section created a safe space for us all to tell our stories and also sent very thoughtful and heartfelt messages after our MyTakes, showering us with enormous love and support.

Whether it’s to 93 other strangers you just met six weeks ago, or the broader HBS community that you don’t know at all, it takes immense courage and bravery to share the most personal side of yourself. And for that, I am thankful and glad to be here at HBS. HBS promotes and fosters an environment where people are genuinely curious and open to learning more about each other. MyTakes, in particular, are a platform for us to share our stories and let others know that there will always be a community for everyone no matter who you are. 

Soltan Bryce (MBA 2021)

When I first thought about pursuing an MBA three years ago, my first question was “can trans people even go to business school?” This question was answered emphatically with the HBS admissions letter’s opening sentence of “YES!”

Answering this for myself began years before at the annual Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) conference. I attended as a conference panelist and a prospective MBA student. ROMBA is where I was inspired by so many people from our community that pursuing an MBA was the right next step for me. 

During the years leading up to my first semester at HBS, I was introduced to several members of PRIDE through organizations like ROMBA and unexpected personal connections. Those leaders and those ROMBA conference weekends came to show me that the LGBTQ+ MBA network, especially at HBS, is strong and growing. Those PRIDE leaders, who are now friends, took time out of their busy student schedules to give advice on applying, have coffee chats, help me prepare for the interview, and even help me furnish my new apartment near HBS before I even started as a student.

When I arrived on campus, my courage was fueled by a long line of PRIDE leaders and facilitated through ROMBA. Like many RCs, my fall semester started off in an amazing whirlwind of new possibilities and questions. Like the leaders before them, the PRIDE ECs were deft at providing support when needed, including a packing list for ROMBA (Tylenol and resume folios both being great reminders).

Attending for the first time as an MBA, ROMBA came just in time during RC. Six weeks into the semester, I gained a new appreciation for what it means to be a visible LGBTQ+ leader and was inspired by the hundreds of attendees while seeing old friends and making new ones. Surrounded by our fabulous and inspiring community, this year ROMBA helped me recharge my courage and return to my conviction about how vital our voices are, especially when we speak together. 

Carter Frazee (MBA 2021)

The summer before I arrived at HBS, I had the same worries as everyone else: What would campus life be like? Would I find my community and make life-long friends? I was beyond thrilled when I received an email from PRIDE leadership over the summer asking me to save the date for the annual PRIDE retreat in Cape Cod to kick off the year. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be when we pulled up to the beach house, and I saw a giant rainbow flag hanging above the front door and queer people of all different backgrounds dancing and laughing inside. That weekend set the tone for the whole first semester. As we discussed our coming out stories and unique journeys to HBS, I realized that this was more than just a business school club, it was a community and a family, a community and family that I’ve been leaning on and bonding with ever since that weekend in Cape Cod. 

HBS is about educating leaders that make a difference in the world, so PRIDE frequently engages with queer leaders and asks them to speak to club members. Two that came to campus this semester were Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, and Annise Parker, former Mayor of Houston and CEO of the Victory Institute. Joey, who is currently enrolled in the Owner/President Management program at HBS, spoke about life as a gay CEO and his experiences through the surrogacy process with his husband. I left his talk feeling inspired that it really is possible to do it all and be a husband, dad, and influential business leader. Annise Parker spoke to us about her transition from gay rights activist to being a Mayor of a major U.S. city and how she navigated the discrimination and bumps she hit along the way. Today, Annise is the President and CEO of the Victory Institute, a national organization dedicated to elevating openly LGBTQ+ leaders who can further equality at all levels of government. Looking back, these first few months at HBS have been nothing short of a whirlwind. There may be one semester down, but I’m just getting started.