The smiling rainbow : What changed after Coming Out?
How does it feel to carry your authentic self to work without any inhibition or facade? Liberating, isn’t it? That’s exactly how I felt after “coming out” to my family, friends, colleagues and to the entire world. It was Feb 13th of this year and I was waiting for the mid night stroke of Valentine’s day. Clock was ticking away, and night was getting dense. I was observing everything around me – the candles, the chandelier, the roses, the red wine which just dripped out of the glass. Everything looked perfect. As I rested in my husband’s arms, my mind was still restless. I wondered what’s missing in my life. I have an amazing life partner and an awesome family which has accepted us. Have an amazing manager who knows about my BIG SECRET and embraces me with open arms. What more do I need? Still something felt amiss, something incomplete. As I maneuvered further deep into my thoughts, I realized what had been missing. Even though I was already out about my sexual orientation to my close inner circles, it was only a handful of them. Still there was a lot of strangulation and suffocation happening to my soul when I had to introduce my life partner as friend or refrain from posting our intimate (read as “couple” type) pictures on social media or register my husband as friend for family day events. It was a lie to be shoulder lifted each passing day and that created a lot of angst and aggression. So, I decided to pen down my coming out story. (In case you missed my coming out story, please read it here https://blogs.sap.com/?p=780971&preview=true&preview_id=780971). Since then, there was no looking back.
Now, lets traverse our way back to the present. What changed after coming out? Why is this a very important life event for me? As I started by saying that coming out is liberating. It liberates you from the fear of society, from the fear of being judged and from the need of validation. It’s an amazing feeling and totally worth the adrenaline rush that follows. The initial phase after coming out may be emotionally turbulent but eventually it rids your life of complications. If a colleague is checking out something on my mobile phone and a picture of mine holding hands with my partner pops up in the mobile screen, there is no fear or panic to explain who he is and why we are holding hands in such an intimate manner. If I leave early from office because my husband is not keeping well, I don’t have to cook up stories like plumbing work or carpenter errand. I can tell the truth. When my colleagues ask about my vacation, I can firmly say who I am going out with and how he is related to me. No stories to be concocted. It is a huge psychological relief, and makes you a lot more confident and stress free. With no baggage of lies and facades, I tend to focus better on my work and it has improved my productivity and efficiency. I also avail SAP’s samesex medical benefit for my partner. It makes me feel like any other married employee in terms of the policy for spouse benefits.
If I look from the perspective of Pride@SAP initiative, it places me in a better position to convince the stakeholders in context to what needs to be done to achieve the vision of Diversity & Inclusion. I was part of the SAP Ally Group prior to coming out, but now my opinions have greater probability to be heard and discussed as I have a better understanding of it. So, if you are passionate about bringing a change at your work place, please be honest about who you are such that people can trust you for your authenticity and enable you to create an ecosystem which promotes inclusive culture. SAP has always been very particular about diversity and inclusion. I was accepted with open arms for who I am and what I am. Shraddhanjali Rao(Head HR, SAP India), Mayank Bhatnagar(Diversity & Inclusion Lead, SAP Labs India) and Sneha Arora(HR Business Partner) immediately called me for a candid talk and I was offered the opportunity to co-lead the Culture & Identity Pillar. This speaks volumes about SAP’s sense of responsibility towards the LGBTQIA+ community. I always got the encouragement and support to drive an initiative which has very little awareness around. It makes me immensely proud to be part of an organization like SAP. If you are passionate about this initiative, please join the SAP Ally Group and show your support.
Last but not the least, this June happens to be the first pride month after the iconic 377 verdict of India’s Hon’ble Supreme Court. Please join SAP’s Pride March and show your support. This also happens to be my first pride month after coming out. Wishing all of you a very happy pride!!! Let’s strive towards creating a world which is free from discrimination of all sorts. This pride month let’s try becoming a little more sensitive, a little more empathetic, a little more understanding and a little more aware. This is all it takes to create a utopian world where the rainbow shimmers in the glory of pride.