11 October 2017

Coming Out at CDK: Ruby’s Story

On October 11th, 2017, the United States will celebrate the 29th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, commemorating the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The march took place on October 11th, 1987, and included more than half a million people. Today, in an effort to continue the participants’ goals of visibility, advocacy, and authenticity, and because Coming Out is still very necessary, I’d like to share my story with you

Coming out is not a singular or definitive process; instead, it’s cyclical and constant and comes around again with every new job, friend, date, and doctor. I’d be honored to share some of my story so far with all of you as we write the next chapter together - coming out at CDK. Some people have known that they were part of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer) community since as long as they can remember. This wasn’t the case for me, although I did have an inclination that I didn’t fit in the so-called “standard” mold of gender or of romantic attraction. My family and I have always been strong supporters of equal rights and allies of the LGBTQ community, but it didn’t occur to me that I could be a part of it until my teenage years.

During middle school, as all of my friends began to gush over boys and eventually started to date them, it became increasingly apparent that I did not hold the same interest as they did. So, for the next several years, I alternated between convincing myself that I was simply “a late bloomer” and merely hadn’t developed romantic attractions yet, and pretending to have crushes on boys so that I would have something to talk about with my friends. I was pretty convincing for a while, even to myself.

“No matter who you are or who you love, the greatest gift you can give to yourself - and ultimately to the world - is to live wholeheartedly, with authenticity, compassion, and gratitude.”

That is, as the story goes, until one girl came along and evoked feelings that I couldn’t mistake. I fell for her immediately and naively, and although nothing came of it, it was the wake-up call I needed to begin to make some sense of who I was and why I felt so different from everyone else. I then did a lot of research, familiarized myself with the community, and eventually started to come out. It was a tentative and gradual process, starting with a few key friends, then my close family, and then as was relevant or as it came up. I wasn’t one for any announcements; instead, I just made the conscious choice to no longer hide and let time do its thing.

Although it was absolutely terrifying at the time, my coming out was incredibly positive. I navigated my process without losing one relationship or receiving any form of harassment in school. I was so very lucky, and because I had taken some time to educate myself, I was acutely aware of just how rare and fortunate my experience was. As a result, I established a Gay-Straight Alliance at my high school, which I believe notably increased the level of acceptance within my school and local community.

I finished high school and travelled from the Big Island of Hawaii to attend college at Western Oregon University, where, (besides discovering a passion for software engineering), I came out once again to my new community. In college, I continued to explore my identity as an out lesbian woman. I had my first relationship, fell in love for the first time, had my heart broken for the first time, and recovered. (Yay!)

After graduating this June, I moved up to Portland and began working here at CDK Global. It was important to me to work at a place that was not only tolerant of but welcoming towards its LGBTQ employees, as CDK’s LGBTQ Employee Business Resource Group illustrates. This BRG is vitally important in moving towards more diversity, visibility, and inclusion, within CDK and beyond. Throughout my ever evolving coming out story, I’ve tried to serve as an advocate and educator, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would just like to chat.

No matter who you are or who you love, the greatest gift you can give to yourself - and ultimately to the world - is to live wholeheartedly, with authenticity, compassion, and gratitude.