In a talk I recently gave at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, I was asked to discuss the challenges and opportunities that I faced during a career as a physician who is also gay. These issues came alive for me as I was writing my talk when I found a letter I wrote to my father years ago:
Abby took her girlfriend home to Minneapolis over Labor Day weekend, and, at the insistence of her father, her girlfriend joined them for the family lunch with Grandpa. After an awkward beginning, with Grandpa not knowing who Abby's surprise guest was, Abby's dad stepped in and began the conversation.
As far as equal rights have come in the last few years, up to a third of LGBTQ people are still subjected to "conversion therapy," among the most damaging forms of psychological abuse a person can endure. Conversion therapy encompasses a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Forty-eight percent of LGBT workers do not feel free to be out at work. This robs organizations of getting the best contributions from their LGBT talent, because closeted employees must divert a substantial amount of their creative and emotional energy toward obscuring a fundamental aspect of their identity.