An article in The Advocate has inspired a woman to come out in a TED talk.
In front of an audience that included coworkers, Morgana Bailey said four words that she had been afraid to say for over a decade and a half: “I am a lesbian.”
In the video, filmed in November at the TED@StateStreet London event and published online this week, the Kansas native revealed that as a youth, she had been gregarious and eager to participate in all that life had to offer. But that attitude changed once she realized that she was attracted to other women.
“The moment I realized something was different about me, was the exact same moment that I began conforming and hiding. Hiding is a progressive habit. And once you start hiding, it becomes harder and harder to step forward and speak out,” Bailey, who is an employee of the financial services company State Street, says in the video.
“I was paralyzed by my fear of not being accepted,” she adds.
For 16 years, she remained closeted, until she was motivated to come out after reading an article in The Advocate written by Dominic Bocci. She learned the consequences of homophobia, which included a shocking statistic: LGB people in antigay communities live 12 years less than those in accepting communities, due to increased rates of heart disease, suicide, and violence.
She also learned that consequences extend beyond an individual level. Silence contributes to stigma, and as The Advocate reported last year, there are steep social, economic, and systemic costs of homophobia as well.
“My choice to hide and not share who I really am may have inadvertently contributed to this same atmosphere and environment of discrimination,” she says.
“I was inspired to give my TED talk because of The Advocate’s article ‘Quantifying the Effects of Homophobia’ in the June/July 2014 issue,” Bailey tells The Advocate. “The article made me realize that my silence had personal, professional and economic consequences. I’m not saying that everyone has to be an activist. But if we let our true selves be known at every opportunity for education and awareness, we will help enrich our own lives and help advance our rights within society.”
Watch the full video, titled “The Danger of Hiding Who You Are,” below.