By Keysha Bradley

I’ve worked at my corporate job for 25 years, but it wasn’t until last year when I “officially” came out at work. For the first 24 years, I was private with my personal life at work. My motto was, “If you know, you know. If you ask me, I just might tell you.” However, I didn’t make it a point to share my LGBTQ+ lifestyle with my work family.  Sure, there were many colleagues who knew, a lot who wondered and many who didn’t care. 

I have a vibrant personality, infectious smile, great attitude, and that’s why I feel people love me. It’s not about who I choose to love. However, for so many years I tried to hide my true self from my work colleagues. I would introduce my partner to colleagues as a “friend” or a “cousin.” But why? So that I’m not judged?

Then one year, I met a colleague, and we became very close. I thought our relationship was strong enough for me to tell her about my lifestyle, so I did. She said, “Oh girl, I already knew because of your standard butch heels (SBH).” I was like, “WHAT… LOL?” I was so tickled.  We still laugh about it all the time. That moment made me realize that I just needed to be me. 

Fast forward to 2021… I was asked to be a part of a panel about being your authentic self at work. At first, I was apprehensive because the panel consisted of LGBTQ+ employees and an ally. Then I thought about it and decided to do it. It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done at work. It was essentially my coming out party at work and it felt good to be “free.” No more lying, no more hiding.

I credit my employer for being a very diverse and inclusive place to work, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a very supportive company, and it makes it so much easier to be your authentic self. Thanks for the opportunity, Dallas Weekly. I hope this provides some encouragement for anyone who is struggling like I did. Be authentically YOU.

And don’t forget, #LoveIsLove! And #ShoesareShoes!

About the author: Keysha “KBrad” Bradley is a writer, high school and college women’s basketball official and the fan engagement leader for the Texas Elite Spartans, a women’s professional football team in Dallas.