I started coming out at work before I started coming out to my friends and family. And I’ll tell you the story.
Ever since I could remember, I wasn’t like my friends. I never had that boy-crazy phase in high school. I just thought I had really, really high standards that nobody could seem to meet. Someday, I would meet the one and it would be perfect, and it would be magical, and that would be it. But, the more I thought about it and the more I learned about myself, I realized that maybe that’s not what I was looking for. Maybe that’s not what I wanted.
I began having some really casual conversations with friends. No real coming out, but just talking about, “Well, what if?” And it wasn’t until I found someone at Zillow who I felt could really relate to me, and I felt comfortable sharing this piece of me with, that I started to really open up.
Now, this thinking wasn’t something new. This had been an everyday thought, an all-consuming thought for my whole life. But I just met someone at work who was able to ask really good questions and to create a safe space for me to explore and to talk through how I was feeling. She helped me to process what I was feeling, and helped me to realize that there are other people like me, and it wasn’t just me being alone. I had a whole community.
My life changed when my friend asked me what my biggest fear was about coming out. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be accepted in the community; that they would think I was lying. And, in that moment she told me, “Katie, you’re already in it. This is your community.” And I wanted to cry. That was the one thing I needed. Just some form of validation that this was real, to let those walls down and let everything be true.
Immediately after that, I officially came out to her and said that I was gay. And then I started calling people that I knew. I called my old manager. I called my friends at work. And then I applied for a leadership position in the Zillow Pride network. It was like everything had changed, and I was free to be me a hundred percent. My confidence went through the roof. It was no longer a secret to myself. I could finally own my whole self.
Once that ball got rolling, it hasn’t stopped. And I just want to shout it from the rooftops. I’m not ashamed, I’m excited. And I’m really proud to be me. And I’m so thankful that Zillow has given me a way to find my voice and a way to find myself.
The first time I went to a Pride event was actually just last summer with Zillow. I marched in the parade and — this sounds dramatic, but it changed my entire life. I had never been around so many people just free to be themselves, and people lining the streets there to cheer them on for being themselves. It was beautiful. It was magical. And I felt instantly at home and peaceful.
Pride to me is a celebration of who I am and who we are in this community. And it’s a celebration of where we’ve been and how far we have come, and a moment to stop and reflect before we continue to march onto where we’re going. And to just be with each other to celebrate love.
The most important part of the LGBTQ+ network at Zillow is that we amplify voices. We give people a safe space to come and be themselves. And then we share the good news with the rest of the company and the rest of the world, honestly.