“I am Out and Proud because I want to be a role model. I want people to know that you can bring your full, authentic self to work.
“Growing up in Miami, Florida, I learned at a very young age that being gay was wrong. When I began questioning my sexual orientation, I tried hard to ignore my internal feelings. However, no matter how much I was bullied and called ‘gay,’ no matter how much I wished I was straight and no matter how many girls I dated, those feelings simply would not go away. I began living a double life. At the age of 21, when I finally got the courage to come out to my mother, I still felt the need to stay closeted to protect my family from the public disappointment of having a gay son.
“Around the time that I came out to my mother, I joined NASA JSC as a Pathways intern. Through my involvement with JSC’s Out & Allied (O&A) ERG, I was able to participate in the NASA JSC’s ‘It Gets Better’ video, walk in my first Pride Parade and attend multiple guest speakers. Over time, these experiences made me more comfortable with who I was. When I started working full-time at NASA, I decided that I would be an out employee. I didn’t want to hide who I was or who I loved at work.
“As the years went by, my involvement with O&A ERG grew. I was awarded the Trailblazer Award in 2016 and, eventually, became the chair of the organization in 2018. I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most amazing and supportive colleagues that I have ever met. Together, they have given me the strength and courage to continue bringing my full, authentic self to work every day. Now, I pay it forward by being a role model for the individuals out there who are struggling to bring their full, authentic self to work. I’m here for you. I’ll be your ally. That’s why I’m out and proud. Happy Pride!”
— Daniel Zapata, Budget Analyst, Johnson Space Center