Terry is a Business Analyst for the State of NY, and has been openly gay during the duration of her employment there. YCBA conducted a phone interview with her to ask her some questions about her career history and advice she has for the younger LGBT generation.
Can you give us some background on your career experiences up until this point, and what your current position is?
I started as an auditor and worked at three different state agencies. I did that for about 16 years, and then I have been a business analyst for the last 14 years, so I’ve been with the state [of New York] for 30 years. As a business analyst, I head up the training unit and manage data analytics.
Are you openly out at work? Can you tell us a little bit about your coming out experience both in life as well as your career?
Yes. At work, I felt like I was always out. I met my partner my first year with the state when I was 23, and she just became part of my discussion. I went out to dinner with her, I went on vacation with her, I’d bring in pictures, I’d bring her to work functions, she was just a natural part of it. The only people I remember coming out to were my mother and my sister.
Has there ever been a time where you felt you’ve faced discrimination at work because of your sexuality?
I’ve never felt discriminated against personally. The only time I’ve ever heard it brought up in a negative sense was when we were hiring someone for our unit. I found out after the fact that several of my co-workers were out questioning other people because they thought this man [that we were hiring] was gay, and they weren’t sure they wanted him in the unit. This is just an example of some people not accepting it at the time, but I was clueless because I thought that everyone was fine with [being openly gay at work].
Can you describe any positive experiences you encountered throughout your career?
It is amazing how many people I work with have been positive. I’ve had family Christmas parties at my house, and afterwards people have purchased gifts and given them to my partner for helping to organize it. She’s just accepted as part of the group.
Would you consider your field one that’s more or less difficult to be openly gay in comparison to other fields?
I would say being in government is better because the government is setting the rules and therefore they have to lead by example. I find that in my profession I don’t feel any limitations in my field [to being openly out at work]. I know that in some professions, especially those where you’re working with children, it can be more difficult because people can accuse them of doing something inappropriate even if they’re not.
Do you have any advice for young LGBT who might be questioning a particular career path?
Follow your heart and do what you want to do. Don’t let other people impose limits and make you feel inferior. Don’t let your sexual orientation define you. You are more than that, you have more skills and things to offer the world, don’t let that hold you back.