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Bailey Mayer, a FinTech compliance practice lead at Treliant, had been out of school for 15 years before he decided to pursue an MBA degree at Kellogg. While he was uncertain about what would lie ahead on his MBA journey, he found comfort in the community surrounding him at Kellogg that has become part of his family. Read more about how he knew Kellogg was the right choice for him. 

I came out of the closet in 2003 when I was 17 years old.  

At the time, I knew it was a big decision to tell people that I was gay. There would be no going back, and it would ultimately change my life permanently.  

For those who have never had the need to come out, it’s a terrifying experience. Living in a conservative town in northern Colorado, I didn’t know how it was going to be received. Just a few years prior, in a town less than an hour away from where I grew up, Matthew Shepard, a gay man, was senselessly tortured and murdered for being gay in Laramie, WY at the age of 22.  

“Queer people don't grow up as our true selves, we play a version of us that often gives up or sacrifices our authenticity and who we are to minimize prejudice and embarrassment.”
Bailey mayer
Evening & Weekend Program

Thankfully and luckily, my family was very supportive and protective, something I am eternally grateful for, as not everyone who identifies as LGBTQIA2S+ has the same experience. However, the community I lived in wasn’t as welcoming and the first few years after coming out were difficult and challenging. I spent most of my junior and senior years of high school avoiding certain classes like gym or pretending that my school locker wasn’t mine as people had written negative slurs in permanent marker on it. Even after high school, I still experienced bullying, mockery and even physical assault for just looking gay.  

It wasn’t until 2009, when I met my husband, Gerry, and found a group of friends that I felt like I could be comfortable with and really start to be myself. In hindsight and reflecting on my earlier years, it's very evident that queer people don’t grow up as our true selves, we play a version of us that often gives up or sacrifices our authenticity and who we are to minimize prejudice and embarrassment. I couldn't start breaking away from those parts I had created to protect myself from those that are truly who I am until I was able to make peace with myself and who I am. 

Evening & Weekend MBA student Bailey Mayer with classmates at drag show
Bailey Mayer and classmates at a drag show in South Beach.

I was nervous when I made the decision to go back to school and pursue an MBA. I hadn’t been back to school in 15 years. I didn’t know what to expect, or what potential obstacles or prejudice I might encounter.  

A big reason I chose to come to Kellogg was due to the emphasis the school places on diversity and embracing those qualities that make each of us different and unique. I knew I had made the right choice when I mentioned my husband in a casual conversation, and nobody flinched or blinked. It was normal, accepted and even welcomed that I was proud to tell my classmates I had a husband. People didn’t care in the negative way that I had become accustomed to. In fact, my entire cohort rallied together last year upon learning that my husband had epilepsy to raise over $2,500 for the Epilepsy Foundation. It was an incredible moment, and why I consider every person in my cohort to be part of my family.  

Kellogg really is a network of like-minded, supportive allies. Just this past weekend, 20 of my classmates and I went to a drag show in South Beach, for some it was their first. Everyone embraced the moment and had an incredible time. These are memories that will last a lifetime.

At Kellogg, my classmates and I wear our pride like a badge of honor.  

“A big reason I chose to come to Kellogg was due to the emphasis the school places on diversity and embracing those qualities that make each of us different and unique.”
bailey mayer
Evening & Weekend Program

But coming out is not a one-time thing, it happens every day and all the time. Every time a queer person meets someone new, starts a new job or takes a new class, we come out all over again. Even though we’ve come a long way for equality, rights, and freedoms since high school, we still have a long way to go. The fight for equality continues and we cannot stop pushing for our voices to be heard. One day, and with the help of my new Kellogg family and allies, coming out will no longer be something that our community will have to fear or be nervous about. We will just be able to be us and be proud of it.     

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