MSc Investment Management 2016

I’ve moved a lot in my adult life. I’ve moved alone six times over two thousand miles, each time. The only time my mom ever worried about me though is went I moved to Wales for grad school. ‘It’s really far’ she said. ‘If something happens, there’s border and visas and passports to make it to you.’ At the time I waved it off. I was independent. I knew what I wanted, and I got it.

I knew what she was worried about though. She only mentioned it once right when I came out as gay. She cautioned me about coming out at school. Not because she was ashamed or mad at me or thought less or me. She was just afraid. People like me still get killed even in progressive places like LA and London just for holding hands and walking down the street.

Looking back on it, it was a bigger deal than I thought. I had no idea what would happen when I showed up. Of course, nothing bad happened. I was welcomed with open arms into Wales (even if I only spoke the less cool half of the two languages). I had friends who celebrated me for who I was. I never had to change who I was or how I felt. I never once felt the need to go back into the closet even for the most minor of things. I had staff who sincerely pushed me to do better. And because of that I thrived in this new environment; and for the first time feeling like I was truly my own person out in life. From there I parleyed that confidence and education into an amazing career.

I hesitate sometimes telling these stories. I’m conscious of the fact that I haven’t faced much adversity in my life. I’ve lived a decidedly ‘normal’ life in many ways. But then I think to myself, wasn’t that the point of it all? Wasn’t it the point of the marches, the protests, the lawsuits and the impassioned speeches on street corners? That someone like me wouldn’t have to spend my days defending my right just to exist.

Though now people take pains to celebrate me and my differences; there still weren’t people around and above me when I was in university. The same holds true today in my career. I didn’t have people growing up who were out and proud of being gay.

So I tell these stories to do the single most important thing I can do. Which is just to be visible and to be the person I wish I had been able to look up to.