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As a queer, polyamorous person, one of the greatest impetuses for me to start my
own business was how tired I was of feeling like I had to hide who I was around
people at work until I knew them well enough to know if they were “safe.” I didn’t
ever pretend to be anyone I wasn’t, but I wasn’t always extra forthcoming with every
detail of my life either. I knew that while to most people, coming out wouldn’t be a
big deal, some people would misconstrue my confession as a romantic or sexual
overture (a misconception that I did NOT want to have to deal with in a professional

I’m incredibly privileged. I’m white, able-bodied, cis-presenting, and financially
secure. My biggest concern about being out is that people will think I’m hitting on
them. But for many, many other queer folks at intersections of greater
marginalization, the concerns around being out at work are much more dire. And
when you’re spending every day making calculations about the likelihood of your
livelihood or physical safety being compromised by being out about your identity,
the office can feel like a minefield.

While entrepreneurship does not alleviate the psychological load of being
marginalized in every arena, it can provide immense freedom and relief for the hours
one spends at work. After all, small business owners are in near complete control of
who they come into contact with in the course of their workday. They are in charge of
selecting each employee, vendor, and client. It also provides additional avenues to
opportunity: the small business owner is no longer reliant on a boss who decides
how much money she can make or what level of responsibility she can handle.
That’s why in October of last year, I made a decision to deliberately focus on doing
more work to help LGBTQ entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. When we
work together to help one another, we can become the purveyors of new power
structures in business and beyond.

Michelle Coyle is the founder of BGSD Strategies. You can learn more about her work here