Dale Masel, Gay
Associate Professor, Industrial Systems & Engineering
INVOLVEMENTS AT OU:
Undergraduate Chair, Industrial & Systems Engineering Advisor and Engineering Ambassadors
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE OUT?:
It's important to be out for straight people, so that they know that they have friends, professors, and colleagues who are LGBT. When politicians debate gay rights, straight people need to know that it's their friends' who are being discussed, so they are more likely to speak up and be supportive.
For gay people who aren't out, it's important for them to see them to see what it's like to be out. By seeing other LGBT people, they can learn what diversity exists in the LGBT community, and find a place where they're comfortable. They can also observe how their classmates or colleagues react to an LGBT person and realize that they will be safe and accepted when they choose to come out.
WHY ARE YOU PROUD?:
I'm proud to have so many friends and family who like and support me just the way I am. I'm proud that my sexual orientation has been a non-issue since I've come out, and hasn't held me back with the opportunities I've had. I'm proud that my friends support LGBT rights, since it means that they recognize that I deserve to be treated fairly.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ABOUT COMING OUT?:
The most difficult part was actually saying the words "I'm gay" to someone. Once I said those words, everything else seemed easy. Discussion flowed from there, and answering their questions was a lot easier once I had actually told someone that I'm gay.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WHO COME OUT?:
If you're considering coming out to someone, then you probably think that they're supportive, and usually you're going to be right. With some of the first friends that I came out to in college, I asked them how they would feel if they found out a friend of theirs was gay. This gave me a chance to make sure that they were going to be comfortable with me (which they always were), and provided a segue to the actual disclosure that I'm gay. Eventually I became confident enough that I didn't need that preface, but in the beginning it really helped me to know that I was in a safe situation.
THOUGHTS FOR NON-LGBT PEOPLE ABOUT LGBT PEOPLE AND CONCERNS:
If you want to be supportive, I think it's really great when people express their support of LGBT rights without being asked. It doesn't mean that you need to tell every LGBT person how much you love Lady Gaga or Ellen DeGeneres, but by providing a positive attitude toward things like marriage equality, you demonstrate to everyone around you--straight, gay, and closeted--that you respect them. Demonstrating that attitude (and not just keeping it to yourself) does wonders for creating a more open and supportive environment around you.