Editor's Note: Sharing Our Full Selves

I want to thank August Burns for giving me the courage to share my wedding picture as part of this column.

As I considered a topic for my note this month, I found myself resisting connecting this column to our cover story, "Out at Work." Duke is a progressive place, and the institution, as you’ll learn when you read the story, has been at the forefront with inclusive benefits and policies. Still, it is challenging as an LGBTQ person to muster up the courage to express my full self in certain settings.

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released the results of a survey of employees across the U.S. It found that 46 percent of workers remain "closeted" at work. The report finds one challenge is "getting to know you" topics that come up among workers: children, dating and spouses, and social activities. Sharing about ourselves at work helps create connections, but according to the report, LGBTQ employees worry about being stereotyped, making people feel uncomfortable or losing relationships with colleagues.

This is how I felt as I considered a topic for this column. I almost convinced myself to write about "How to Master Mondays," another story in this issue. After all, I can relate to that, too. Like clockwork on Sundays, anxiety over my work to-do list creeps into those last moments of the weekend.

But after seeing the photograph of August and her wife, Denise, which you'll find here, I decided to more broadly share my full self with the hope that more people feel comfortable coming out at work.

Leanora Minai, editor of Working@Duke and Duke Today and executive director of communications for Communication Services, can be reached at 919-681-4533 or Leanora.Minai@duke.edu.

Heather and Leanora on their wedding day in New York City in 2014.