I am gay and I am a senior scientist in the petrochemical industry.//
Growing up and studying at varsity in the 80s and 90s in South Africa in an environment where, back then, it was unacceptable and illegal to be gay I stayed closeted and tried to live straight. I married and had kids (who I love very much!) but eventually I had to come out and divorced. I will always regret the hardship and pain that my closeted life has caused others I loved. Professionally I know I would never have had the opportunities I had if back then I presented as gay. The world has changed since and I am fortunate to now have a career in industry at a company that values and celebrates diversity. I now have a loving husband and we have a happy family life with our children. Although I know that I am safe to be myself at work now, I still often shy away from mentioning my husband at work when I meet new colleagues, especially from smaller, conservative towns in fear of rejection. Living for 40+ years in the closet imprints that fear on your soul. I wish that nobody will ever have to live half their lives denying who they are out of fear for rejection or knowing that it will prevent them from studying a specific course at a respected professor or not being considered for a job.