When I was in high school, I decided to be honest with myself and accept my sexuality but didn’t know how to approach it openly. I was slowly dropping hints to my best friend until one day she asked me if I was gay in front of our entire English class. I decided to come out then in front of everyone because I felt comfortable enough to do so and saw no need to be coy considering I wanted to eventually come out somewhere down the road, and I didn’t want my peers to have an “I told you so” moment whenever that was going happen in the future.
As I got older and transitioned into the professional world, being out was helpful because I didn’t feel the need to overcompensate to hide anything or dodge certain questions about my personal life, and I simply concentrate on the most important thing – my career.
Coming out to your coworkers and clients is different than coming out to your family and friends because, with the former, you are not obligated to divulge into your personal life unless you feel comfortable and feel like that doing so can add some sort of value to your professional career. You can also simply just come out and not have to justify anything about your sexuality. With family and friends, it’s deeper because they want to know the more personal and emotional aspects of your journey, which can be challenging if you still trying to figure out who you are.
When did you become interested in the law?
I became interested in law at a young age when I realized how it literally effects every part of our lives, from the way we look, behave, how we interact with one another, and depending on location, what opportunities and rights are available to us.
What inspired you to begin a career in legal recruiting?
I already had a background in recruiting in the non-profit sphere. I saw the chance to work at MLA as a perfect opportunity to take what I learned and challenge myself by entering an industry I was interested in but had no prior experience.
Who has had the biggest impact/influence on your career?
My parents are the biggest influences on my career. Both are Vietnam War refugees that came to the U.S. single and alone with nothing but the clothes on their backs and not knowing English. Through hard work, perseverance and dedication, they were able to integrate successfully and purchase a home within six years and create a comfortable and stable life without needing outside assistance. As immigrants, they were able to achieve the American dream, which is already difficult for some born here, and do so in a short period of time.
What does pride mean to you?
To me, pride means being able to be your authentic self openly and unapologetically without feeling pressured to change based on the fear of rejection or someone else’s conflicting opinions and expectations of you. It’s the ability to be comfortable in your own vulnerability and letting your guard down without hesitation because you are comfortable with who you are and where you are going, even if you don’t exactly know the complete route of your journey yet.
On a communal level, I will summarize a quote by Jonathan Fridg of the Pittsburgh Stonewall Alliance:
Pride is the opportunity to celebrate those who came before us and paved the way for the rights we have today; and to ask ourselves how we will continue do that for those that come after us.
As a member of the LGBTQIA community, how can you educate your coworkers to be more accepting and open-minded?
In my honest opinion, nothing is more effective than open, candid conversation and doing so in a manner where we are not walking on eggshells for the sake of being “politically correct.” You can have those conversations without fear of being disrespectful if you open your mind to being receptive and just listening and learning from your colleagues’ personal experiences and opinions. While diversity and inclusion trainings in the workplace are incredibly important and informative, these ideas will turn into empty sentiment and eventually get lost in the everyday shuffle of work life if we do not try to understand each other on a deeper level. It can be difficult to start these conversations at first, but sometimes you just need to get over that anxiety and open a channel for those moments to happen.