This is the twelfth article of the series: “Coming Out, Going Within.” Published with LinkedIn Articles and Medium.
Learn More about “Coming Out, Going Within”: I think we can all agree that the queer / LGBTQIA+ community needs more resources for our self-healing and spirituality. And ways to communicate our lived experiences and truth. Coming Out, Going Within chronicles my journey toward self-love as a newly out bi-racial gay / queer woman. I share my day-to-day life not just as a personal journey, but also as a communication coach and cultural storyteller. I hope with this series, I can hold open a space for the LGBTQIA+ community–and all of my intersections as BIPoC, API, womxn, Jewish, and neurodivergent–to grow toward wholeness and success. Please join me in my storytelling, and feel free to share your own story in comments.
Just like my coming out has been a process of trial and error and risking embarrassment–and countless times of being wrong about something I was sure about. Such as thinking I was a diehard femme as a newly out queer / gay woman. And then questioning my gender identity because my gender expression has been shifting. I’ve tried to be completely transparent to my readers on “Coming Out, Going Within.” And admit multiple times, as I will continue to do, “I don’t know.”
A big part of this process of coming out has been to allow for myself to be as present as possible. And to show up here each week to share what’s happened to me the past 7 days. A lot of the time, I write on something entirely awkward that happened. Like the time I showed up for my first professional photoshoot for my rebranding. In full make up and a dress and heels. And felt like an alien from outer space. Even though I thought at the time, dressing as full femme was the preparation for a performance. Such as a photoshoot. It’s not completely who I am anymore. And I experienced gender (expression) dysphoria for the first time.
My guests on my podcast The Intersection: Diverse Folx Converse. Just by the sheer fact of me being the host. And how much I’m invested in my process and being intimately involved with my content. They come also willing to go places they haven’t yet been. Intellectually. Emotionally. Spiritually. Or they explore topics they haven’t yet shared with the public. And they share their innermost thoughts. Their personal stories. And/or they talk about topics that aren’t available to them on other shows. This month, Lily Zheng, DEI strategist and author of The Ethical Sellout came to speak on the show. And did just that!
I sat down with Lily Zheng recently to have one of these tough and vulnerable talks. One that sincerely made me sweat. And together with Lily Zheng, whom I consider to be a DEI Giant. We talked through some of the most difficult situations that we, as diverse and marginalized people, are often placed. And this happens not solely at work. Or in the general public. But these difficult situations arise within our own communities.
Have you ever felt afraid to say the “wrong thing” among a group of other activists or DEI practitioners. To the point where you feel as if you’re holding back? This walking on eggshells feeling, is some of what we addressed.
I am just one person writing this series. And I share my experiences and struggles that happen to me internally. And how I work them through with support from my own self-care practices and communities of other coaches and activists. And family, partner, and friends. For a lot of my life, I have hidden in the specializations of academia. And it was only until I started to write through what I was experiencing, in all honesty, that I could bring together my training and education to voice my authentic self. And to provide platforms for my community members to do the same. But there are barriers to doing so. However, Lily and I spoke about these barriers as opportunities for growth and change within our communities. And within activist and DEI efforts.
Episode # 7: The Tactics and Boundaries of the Ethical Sellout: Avoiding Purity Politics and Cancel Culture in DEI-Focused Work premiered Weds April 28, 5:30 PM PT. Lily’s episode gets to the heart of how much hurt and trauma still persists within QPoC and GNC communities. As well as other marginalized communities. And offers the beginning of how we might collectively absorb and support people’s different levels of exposure to DEI. And how each of us in DEI had to go through a learning curve to gain the vocabulary to speak about the intersectionality of our struggles of sexism, classism, queerphobia, transphobia, ableism, and ageism, in a nuanced way. Lily and I speak on multiple issues that come up today around DEI-focused work. Surrounding disposability culture, purity politics, and cancel culture. How to bring and keep communities of activists together. And how these lessons can help us. Personally and organizationally! To become more equitable in our work and lives.
The Intersection: Diverse Folx Converse–Lily Zheng and I explore some of the toughest interpersonal and group communication challenges today in DEI discourse
JOIN US! THE INTERSECTION EPISODE #7 PREMIERES Weds April 28, 5:30 PM PT: https://www.linkedin.com/events/episode-7withlilyzheng-thetacti6787833228142215168/
Episode # 7: The Tactics and Boundaries of the Ethical Sellout: Avoiding Purity Politics and Cancel Culture in DEI-Focused Work
Dr. Shannon Wong Lerner portrait, Taken by Matthew Gordon
BIO: As a longstanding multicultural coach & thought leader who brings full-service, high-level communication courses to diverse clientele – Dr. Wong Lerner is a 🦄!
She has 20+ years of academic and industry experience.
Across several Fortune 500 companies, engineering and Ivy League universities, non-profit organizations, and U.S. and international government entities.
Her clients have remarkably high success rates as professionals, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and presenters.
Dr. Shannon also works as a keynote speaker and provides trainings on a variety of different subjects between DEI and communication.
As a queer API coach, she meets you from your unique starting place. To better support you as women, BIPOC, WOC, non-native speakers, nontraditional learners, allies, & LGBTQIA+ talent. Inclusive of genderqueer, non-binary, & trans individuals. Dr. Shannon specializes in helping her clients tell their coming out stories at their place of work and as business owners or public figures. She curates her content not just as an expert in her field. But as vulnerable and intimately bound to her topics, to open up spaces for others to speak as their authentic selves.
Dr. Shannon uses a whole-person, holistic method for all and any speaking situation that considers:
WHO you are
WHERE you come from
HOW you orient and identify
HOW you process information
and HOW you sound as a communicator.
So you don’t sound like a version of someone else. But you sound like a better version of yourself.
To help others with their personal brand storytelling to host your own podcast and write your own content to level up, attract new employers and clientele — she enjoys hosting: The Intersection: Diverse Folx Converse, eFEMeral: Voice Matters, and Queer Home Meditation.
**”Coming Out. Going Within” started as the LGBTQIA+ meditation project, Queer Home Meditation, as a private Facebook group airing on Facebook Live. Intermittently, QHM videos are shared to LinkedIn Events and YouTube.
Services: If you are interested in working with a communication coach who values and understands your lived experience, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn through DM. Speak Your Way to Success is Dr. Wong Lerner’s signature program that includes everything you need to become a better communicator in just 3 months. Learn public speaking, personal brand storytelling, intercultural communication, rhetoric and critical thinking, and gain many personal resources. The program is catered to your needs and individualized with supplementary materials and group support. We have spots available and are taking on new clients now.