Five Important Ramifications of NBA Pro Basketball Player Jason Collins’ Coming Out

… And also I recognize Women’s Basketball super-star Brittany Griner below.

Major LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) news was made last month when Jason Collins became the first

Jason Collins became the first active athlete among the four major US pro sports to come out as gay via a recent online Sports Illustrated article

Jason Collins became the first active athlete among the four major US pro sports to come out as gay via a recent online Sports Illustrated article

active (non-retired) professional among the major four American Men’s pro sports (Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey) to come out publically as a gay man. Link to the Sports Illustrated online article. There was a major media flurry, and like always I like to wait for a month for the hoopla to die down so I can offer an additional thoughtful analysis. Here are my five hopeful long term ramifications of Jason’s coming out:

1. This sends the strong message to our LGBT youth that they can become anything they want and have the talent to do. LGBT youth do not need to be “pigeon holed” into careers stereotypically attributed to gay men and lesbians, but instead can pursue any career they want, including pro sports. And perhaps some day we will have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender President of the United States!

2. This could help curb gay bullying and gay bashing. Bullies should think twice about picking on an LGBT person; perhaps their gay 7 foot tall, 240 pound muscular friend will come to their bullied victim’s defense. Not all gay guys are 120 pound slim guys. See link to my most recent blog on bullying which contains additional links to blogs and resources.

3. This will help pro sports become much more open to full acceptance of LGBT diversity, and perhaps significantly decrease homophobia in pro sports. The younger generation can aspire to play in pro leagues and also be out and true to their LGBT selves.

This year's first WNBA's draft pick Brittney Griner recently came out as a lesbian.  Here she is cutting down the nets after leading Baylor to their 2012 championship

This year’s first WNBA’s draft pick Brittney Griner recently came out as a lesbian. Here she is cutting down the nets after leading Baylor to their 2012 championship


4. Since Jason Collins is African-American, it helps dispel the myth that homosexuality is a “white person’s thing.” LGBT people are found across all segments of humanity. See also my last month’s blog on 5 Common Misconceptions about Gay People.

5. Finally, this breaks the gay male stereotype of all gay men being feminine and small. The LGBT community is extremely diverse with a wide range of gender expressions, shapes and sizes.

I would like to close this article with a call out to a female basketball star who recently came out as a lesbian; Brittany Griner, who led Baylor to the 2012 Women’s NCAA championship and was this year’s first draft pick in the WNBA draft. Link to the article about Brittany.

The Business Value of Coming Out for Executives and Senior Managers

Next week on October 11, we celebrate “National Coming Out Day,” an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Though many in the younger generation may view coming out as a non-issue, coming out may be far more difficult for older people and particularly business leaders who may be in senior manager or executive roles. I have even spoken with a handful of companies that have a few hundred executives or senior leaders, without a single one being out gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Certainly odds are that several out of 100 or 200 would be LGBT!

I assert there is a compelling business rationale for seasoned executives and managers to come out of the closet and be public in the workplace about being LGB or T. I realize those opposed to my assertion may claim that sexual orientation is a private matter and should not be discussed in the workplace. But this is absurd! Most heterosexual people are out at work . . . with photos of spouses and families on their desks. And when people share about the past weekend with co-workers over lunch or on break, they naturally speak about activities with significant others and families.

Here is the compelling value proposition for coming out:

1. It benefits the company! In retaining sharp young talent and recruiting the very best, LGBT people and all others who value diversity want to see full diversity among the senior leaders. LGBT employees will want to see that people like them can reach the upper echelons based on business achievement and not be held back for being gay. (i.e. the lavender ceiling.)

2. You will come across as more authentic with coworkers. Appearing secretive or aloof could also lead to team members wondering if they can trust you with business matters. Being an open authentic person and bringing your full self to the workplace helps build trust and stronger working relationships

3. You will not have to waste any energy keeping track of who knows and who doesn’t, and what you told to whom. Instead of those mental gyrations, you can spend your full intellectual and emotional capital achieving excellent results on the job

4. Finally, it is liberating and freeing to live an open, honest life where you fully and publicly portray satisfaction with yourself as a person.

Here is a recent article (link) about an IBM executive in the UK who came out at work and was truly happy with the results.

Finally, feel free to call on me for my consulting services to either help you build a welcoming corporate culture that facilitates everyone bringing their full true selves to the workplace, or to assist and coach closeted executives on coming out.