Celebrate all Diversity

by barbaraluther on June 1, 2012

June is Gay Pride month, and I’m looking forward to our local parade and festival.

I didn’t come out as a lesbian until my 30s, and I didn’t learn about my ADHD diagnosis until my 40s. So, I’ve had the unique opportunity to come out twice in my life – once as a lesbian and the second time as an ADDer.

It may seem odd to say that I had to “come out” as an ADDer, but the process is much the same as when I came to terms with my sexuality. First, I had to come to grips with my own perceptions about the labels and what it meant about who I am. There was a time of denial and fear, then sadness about time and opportunities lost, then exploration, and finally acceptance and embracing these parts of who I am. There were also the concerns about “being out” with my colleagues and friends. Would it affect how they saw me? Would it affect my job opportunities?

The concerns about being accepted or rejected, understood or misunderstood, hired or fired were eerily similar. I had to deal with my own misperceptions and prejudices about ADHD just as I’d had to go inside and address internalized homophobia earlier. I had to grieve being “different,” not knowing earlier, and lost relationships and dreams. I had to learn about my ADHD, a process that I find is ongoing to this day. As I learned about this ADHD part of myself, I began to appreciate what it had brought into my life and how it had shaped me. I began to appreciate my creativity, sensitivity, and drive to learn and share. But then I ran into the misperceptions
and prejudices of others. I was accused of identifying too strongly with “being ADHD,” but I was also accused of not appreciating the serious impact of ADHD.

I found myself discussing with my coaching clients whether they should “come out” at work about their ADHD, and this is a very serious discussion with major implications for them. I’m fortunate that my coach colleagues, friends, and clients have always been very accepting of me, both as a lesbian and as an ADDer. But I really appreciate that an ADHD diagnosis carries the potential for being discriminated against in much the same way that gays and lesbians have faced workplace discrimination and civil rights violations. I truly believe that discrimination based on a diagnostic label is a civil rights issue we have yet to face, and I can see the journey ahead looking very much like the journey the GLBTQ community has already walked.

So, Gay Pride month has special meaning for me, and I hope you’ll celebrate all diversity with me this month and always.

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