My coming out story is largely attributed to Zillow. I’ve always been a staunch ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and the Zillow Pride network was created just a few months after I started here in 2017. I had always been an active member of the community, but I had never thought of taking on a more active leadership role, because I thought I should leave that for somebody who identifies under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. I started a friendship with my Zillow coworker Brenna Penrod; she’s one of the most wonderful people I know. She has a huge heart and I’ve learned so much from her.
After Brenna saw my passion for the LGBTQ+ community, she really encouraged me to step up and become a site lead for the Denver Pride network. I was a little hesitant, but she was relentless in her Brenna way. I finally agreed to take it on. I’m really so happy I did, because it changed everything.
I went to World Pride in New York last summer. It was mind-blowing, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also got to attend the Out & Equal summit last October. I’ve had an opportunity to learn about different identities, and in my education, I started to realize — oh, that sounds like me. That sounds like how I feel. Previously I didn’t have a way to verbalize or describe how I felt, so it was cool to come to that realization.
Then we came to quarantine and I had lots of time to sit with my thoughts and really think about my identity. And I’m having a phone conversation with Brenna about something Pride-related and she jokingly asked, “are you sure you’re an ally?” She had mentioned to me multiple times before that a lot of staunch allies to the community end up coming out, so in that moment I told her, “no no, I’m an ally… but I wish I was walking on the rainbow road with you.” But after I hung up on that conversation, I felt like I’d lied.
I thought about it: Why am I questioning whether that was an accurate answer to her question?
After thinking about it more and doing more research, I realized, yep, OK, this is it. I think I’m pansexual. I actually came out as a pansexual person April 10th. It means I can be romantically attracted to any person, regardless of gender and gender identity. I thought, “I think I’m ready to just vocalize this,” so I called Brenna in the middle of the workday and said, “hey, I’ve been thinking a lot lately, been doing lots of research. This is how I’m feeling — what are your thoughts on this?” And she gives me the answers I’m expecting her to give. So I said, “Cool. I think I’m ready to vocalize this, and so you’re the first person I’m coming out to.”
And we had our little moment — we were like, “yay!”
It was a really exciting moment and she told me, “Now you gotta go tell your friends and your mom and all this good stuff.”
I’ve found support through the LGBTQ+ network at Zillow just by having a group of people that I know are a safe space that I can go to and talk about whatever things I’m feeling. I can ask questions in safe space and I will get an honest answer, and people understand the question is of the intent to learn.
Even as a person that identifies under the (LGBTQ+) umbrella, there’s still so much education to be had for all the different identities that fall underneath. I might be pansexual, but I’m not as educated in the transgender identity or people maybe need more education on intersectionality.
It’s also cool to serve as a mentor, as a safe space for other people, even just being a shoulder to cry on or somebody to talk to. It’s nice to be able to give back in that way, too
I’ve felt very supported by my colleagues, my manager, my team. I genuinely feel like I can be my authentic self and that’s really refreshing. It takes a lot of energy to be somebody else.