Work + Life
and why I came out anyway
by Brittany Taylor
published September 7, 2018
¶ One truth every successful business owner will tell you is that their success was the opposite of “sudden.”
Three to 5 years—that’s how long it takes the average “overnight success story” to start seeing a consistent uptick in their businesses. It's true. Looking at every online business owner I admire, that’s how long it took them to feel a rising sense of security in their solo ventures.
This summer marks my third year plugging away as a ghostwriter. And, I’m relieved to tell you that this pattern holds true. The content marketing work I’ve done for my own brand has begun to pay off. Potential clients are approaching me. I worry more over my work load than my lack of it. It feels like I’ve dug myself out of a hole and now, finally, I can begin climbing the mountain ahead.
The hole I worked my way out of is dark and terrifying and lonely (as most holes are, I imagine). It’s filled with disappointment: unsigned contracts, and “no” after “no” after “no.” And don’t get me wrong. Out of the hole, there’s plenty of rejection and difficulty. But with more ideal projects and more steady income, it feels far more manageable than it ever did before.
Now that I’m here, teetering between a long journey forward and a fall, I’m nervous. What if I muck it up?
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Enter the realization that has so affected the way I view myself and the way I work that I cannot fathom not talking about. It was the realization that I am—and always have been—gay.
I knew it while I was still scrabbling away in my hole. As I came closer to the edge, I began sharing my truth with the people closest to me. I’d read so many tepid-to-terrible coming-out stories that I was prepared for the rush of anxiety I felt in the moment of confession. I was not prepared for the relief and joy that followed, time after time, person after person.
Before my first coming-out, I thought it might be a truth I could keep to myself.
After, though, it bubbled up to my lips automatically. I needed to say the words. I needed to be seen, to be known.
And every time I swallowed it, I felt like a fraud. Every time I talked about sharing your own story as part of your business brand, I felt like an imposter. I felt like I was hiding an essential part of myself. I felt fake, and I felt ashamed—not for being gay, but for being afraid to own it publicly.
February. That’s when I came out as a person.
June. That’s when I came out as a professional.
In the months between, my face was finally feeling the light of the sun. I was out of the hole. As summer broke, I had a bunch of potential clients—clients who had come to me with projects I was excited about, clients who accepted my fee without comment.
I was afraid that coming out as a gay business owner would scare them away. I’m ashamed to have been afraid of that and to think about it still, but it’s the truth.
(One of those clients disappeared a week after I came out. I don’t know why. The insecure part of my brain wonders and fuels that fear, even though the more rational part is pretty sure my coming-out had nothing to do with it.)
Now, do I want to work with someone who discriminates against gay people and gay businesses? No. No, of course not.
But, still, I fear that being an “out” LGBT business owner makes me one misstep away from falling back into the hole I worked so hard to get out of. It’s a fear that ebbs and flows, but it’s always in the background. It’s white noise that can become a fever pitch.
I wish there was a cure for fear.
I wish there was a magic wand, a secret password, a spell or a ritual that could banish it far from my mind.
But when it comes to fear, there is no shortcut. All we have are two choice: We can cede to it, or we can pursue those things we fear, regardless.
For me, that means living my truth, consequences be damned. If being gay requires me to work harder to outpace discrimination, I will do it so that I can be proud—of my identity and of myself. And if it turns out that my fear is nothing but a bogeyman, a shadow monster that tests my courage without threatening my journey forward, all the better.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.
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