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Today We Celebrate National Coming Out Day

Today We Celebrate National Coming Out Day

by Tammi Wallace, Co-Founder, President & CEO

Coming out was not an easy process. I feared losing family and friends. I was terrified that I would get fired so I stayed closeted at work for a very long time. “Covering” took pieces of me every day and the stress was unbelievable. I remember a pivotal moment when I felt I could no longer hide that I was lesbian.

At 25, when I finally came out, I did lose some people in my life. I was rejected by someone I deeply cared about and who had been an important part of my life. It hurt like hell.

But it was in that coming out process that I felt like I could finally breathe. I could connect to parts of myself that even I had rejected. By starting to be my more authentic self, I began to learn to love myself in the process.

All these years later, it’s still a journey. When I became a business owner in 2012, I found myself coming out all over again through a different lens. Leading the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce is still a coming out process in certain ways in the economic development space and chamber world. 

I still come out depending on the situation and space that I’m in. When I say “my wife” in certain situations, I am coming out. Other times, when I talk about the most important parts of my life, I’m still coming out. 

It’s a lifelong process. There is so much work to do so that LGBTQ people can be our full and authentic selves in every moment of our lives. Honestly, that's an incredibly painful statement but it is reality. Until I can live in a world where I can simply be who I am, there will always be a decision about fully revealing myself at any given moment.

So, while I am living out and proud, those moments exist and it’s why I am passionate about LGBTQ equality, equity and inclusion. It's part of what fuels me every day for our important work focused on economic opportunity and economic inclusion at the Chamber.

I want those generations that come after me to never experience “those moments” and to experience a freedom that I may never see in my lifetime. We WILL get coming out story at a time, one legal win at a time, one legislative win at a day.

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