Self-liberation and the watershed moment of coming out

Sally Susman explains how to use truth-telling moments to your future benefit.

SALLY SUSMAN: Probably the watershed moment in my life and the biggest decision I ever made was to come out. I came out in 1984, which is a long time ago now and things weren't as accepting as they are. And when I told my family that I was gay it was said to me that you would never have a spouse, a career or children. And it wasn't that they were trying to give me a hard time. It's that they were worried about me and those were their realistic fears at the time. What happened in that moment all those years ago is the seeds of those things were planted deeply within me and I felt it was my life plan to have a spouse, a career and a child.

Knowing that was what I needed to be secure and safe and happy and prospering was very clarifying and once you go through a truth-telling moment like that with yourself you'll never go back. And so coming out has been, I think, the greatest, most liberating thing I've done in my life. I have a wonderful young adult daughter, a career that means the world to me and today is my 31st anniversary, so I feel incredibly lucky that I had that challenge early on that gave me a personal north star for what I needed to achieve in my life.

  • The biggest decision of Pfizer executive Sally Susman's life was to come out as gay in 1984, when society was not as accepting as it is now.
  • She was told she would never have a spouse, a career, or children; those were the fears told to her by the people who loved her most.
  • Defying that prediction became her personal north star, and 31 years later she has done it. Susman used that truth-telling moment of coming out as a way to focus her ambitions and plant the seeds for her future.

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