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  • When I was young, I prided myself as a nonconformist

  • in the conservative U.S. state I live in, Kansas.

  • I didn't follow along with the crowd.

  • I wasn't afraid to try weird clothing trends or hairstyles.

  • I was outspoken and extremely social.

  • Even these pictures and postcards of my London semester abroad 16 years ago

  • show that I obviously didn't care if I was perceived as weird or different.

  • (Laughter)

  • But that same year I was in London, 16 years ago,

  • I realized something about myself that actually was somewhat unique,

  • and that changed everything.

  • I became the opposite of who I thought I once was.

  • I stayed in my room instead of socializing.

  • I stopped engaging in clubs and leadership activities.

  • I didn't want to stand out in the crowd anymore.

  • I told myself it was because I was growing up and maturing,

  • not that I was suddenly looking for acceptance.

  • I had always assumed I was immune to needing acceptance.

  • After all, I was a bit unconventional.

  • But I realize now

  • that 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.

  • In fact, even now,

  • when I was talking to people about what this talk was about,

  • I made up a cover story

  • and I even hid the truth about my TED Talk.

  • So it is fitting and scary

  • that I have returned to this city 16 years later

  • and I have chosen this stage to finally stop hiding.

  • What have I been hiding for 16 years?

  • I am a lesbian.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • I've struggled to say those words,

  • because I didn't want to be defined by them.

  • Every time I would think about coming out in the past,

  • I would think to myself, but I just want to be known as Morgana,

  • uniquely Morgana,

  • but not "my lesbian friend Morgana," or "my gay coworker Morgana."

  • Just Morgana.

  • For those of you from large metropolitan areas,

  • this may not seem like a big deal to you.

  • It may seem strange that I have suppressed the truth

  • and hidden this for so long.

  • But I was paralyzed by my fear of not being accepted.

  • And I'm not alone, of course.

  • A 2013 Deloitte study found that a surprisingly large number of people

  • hide aspects of their identity.

  • Of all the employees they surveyed,

  • 61 percent reported changing an aspect of their behavior or their appearance

  • in order to fit in at work.

  • Of all the gay, lesbian and bisexual employees,

  • 83 percent admitted to changing some aspects of themselves

  • so they would not appear at work "too gay."

  • The study found that even in companies

  • with diversity policies and inclusion programs,

  • employees struggle to be themselves at work

  • because they believe conformity is critical

  • to their long-term career advancement.

  • And while I was surprised that so many people just like me

  • waste so much energy trying to hide themselves,

  • I was scared when I discovered that my silence

  • has life-or-death consequences and long-term social repercussions.

  • Twelve years:

  • the length by which life expectancy is shortened

  • for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in highly anti-gay communities

  • compared to accepting communities.

  • Twelve years reduced life expectancy.

  • When I read that in The Advocate magazine this year,

  • I realized I could no longer afford to keep silent.

  • The effects of personal stress and social stigmas are a deadly combination.

  • The study found that gays in anti-gay communities

  • had higher rates of heart disease, violence and suicide.

  • What I once thought was simply a personal matter

  • I realized had a ripple effect

  • that went into the workplace and out into the community

  • for every story just like mine.

  • My choice to hide and not share who I really am

  • may have inadvertently contributed to this exact same environment

  • and atmosphere of discrimination.

  • I'd always told myself there's no reason to share that I was gay,

  • but the idea that my silence has social consequences

  • was really driven home this year when I missed an opportunity

  • to change the atmosphere of discrimination in my own home state of Kansas.

  • In February, the Kansas House of Representatives brought up a bill for vote

  • that would have essentially allowed businesses

  • to use religious freedom as a reason to deny gays services.

  • A former coworker and friend of mine

  • has a father who serves in the Kansas House of Representatives.

  • He voted in favor of the bill,

  • in favor of a law that would allow businesses to not serve me.

  • How does my friend feel

  • about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people?

  • How does her father feel?

  • I don't know, because I was never honest with them about who I am.

  • And that shakes me to the core.

  • What if I had told her my story years ago?

  • Could she have told her father my experience?

  • Could I have ultimately helped change his vote?

  • I will never know,

  • and that made me realize I had done nothing

  • to try to make a difference.

  • How ironic that I work in human resources,

  • a profession that works to welcome,

  • connect and encourage the development of employees,

  • a profession that advocates that the diversity of society

  • should be reflected in the workplace,

  • and yet I have done nothing to advocate for diversity.

  • When I came to this company one year ago,

  • I thought to myself, this company has anti-discrimination policies

  • that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

  • Their commitment to diversity is evident through their global inclusion programs.

  • When I walk through the doors of this company, I will finally come out.

  • But I didn't.

  • Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity,

  • I did nothing.

  • (Applause)

  • When I was looking through my London journal and scrapbook

  • from my London semester abroad 16 years ago,

  • I came across this modified quote from Toni Morrison's book, "Paradise."

  • "There are more scary things inside than outside."

  • And then I wrote a note to myself at the bottom:

  • "Remember this."

  • I'm sure I was trying to encourage myself to get out and explore London,

  • but the message I missed was the need to start exploring and embracing myself.

  • What I didn't realize until all these years later

  • is that the biggest obstacles I will ever have to overcome

  • are my own fears and insecurities.

  • I believe that by facing my fears inside, I will be able to change reality outside.

  • I made a choice today

  • to reveal a part of myself that I have hidden for too long.

  • I hope that this means I will never hide again,

  • and I hope that by coming out today, I can do something to change the data

  • and also to help others who feel different be more themselves and more fulfilled

  • in both their professional and personal lives.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

When I was young, I prided myself as a nonconformist

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B1 US TED gay lesbian hiding bisexual london

【TED】Morgana Bailey: The danger of hiding who you are (The danger of hiding who you are | Morgana Bailey)

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    CUChou posted on 2015/05/03
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