TED Talk speaker reveals secret about identity she kept hidden for 16 years

An American human resources professional came out of the closet onstage in London while delivering a TED Talk on the danger of hiding your true self.

Morgana Bailey, who works for State Street, a financial services company, says she had realized she was a lesbian while studying abroad in the British capital — but had kept it a secret since.

“So it is fitting and scary that I have returned to this city 16 years later and I have chosen this stage to finally stop hiding. What have I been hiding for 16 years? I am a lesbian,” she said during her speech.

State Street hosted the event so many of her colleagues were in attendance.

"Giving a TED talk in itself is a remarkable experience, but 'coming out' through a TED talk was transformative. I immediately felt lighter and free as soon as I stepped off that stage,” she said to Yahoo News via email. “Now that the talk is public, I know that I will stop wasting energy on hiding and I will be able to let other people know me fully. I hope my story inspires others to embrace their unique life story and not waste another minute being anything but themselves.”

Bailey said she prided herself on being a nonconformist growing up in conservative Kansas but no longer wanted to stand out in crowds after her realization and started to conform.

Life expectancy is reduced by 12 years for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in highly antigay communities compared with accepting communities, she said, citing The Advocate. That statistic made her realize she needed to speak out.

“What I once thought was simply a personal matter I realized had a ripple effect that went into the workplace and out into the community for every story just like mine,” she told the crowd. “My choice to hide and not share who I really am may have inadvertently contributed to this exact same environment and atmosphere of discrimination.”

Chad Andrew Herring, of Prairie Village, Kan., took to Twitter to support his sister-in-law’s message.

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Bailey presented the TED Talk, which was posted to YouTube Friday, in November 2014.

She directs a data management team for State Street’s global human resources, which maintains records for roughly 29,000 employees.

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