It’s June, which means it’s Pride month here in Ontario as well as many other places across Canada and the world. For many of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and/or Two Spirit, (LGBTQ2S) that means an opportunity to celebrate our identities, our relationships, our families, and our whole fabulous selves. But even as we take to the (virtual) streets, we might wonder about bringing our identities into our work with clients.
You might be wondering, “Why do you have to bring your identity into your work? Why can’t you just keep the two things separate?” Bringing your identity into your work doesn’t necessarily mean beginning every introduction with, “Hi, I’m a doula and I’m gay!” (Though it can!) It means being able to use your pronouns, talk about your family, and share stories without having to edit yourself. It means not just seeing your clients, but also being seen by them.
While everybody has different ideas of professionalism, our work as doulas is deeply personal and relational. Sharing between doulas and clients is rarely one sided, and doesn’t have to be. Straight and cisgender doulas share their identities all the time, whether talking about their husbands or posting a family photo on social media, it’s just not seen as coming out because those identities have already been assumed.
You might also be wondering how moving through the world as an LGBTQ2S doula might impact your business. It’s a real fear: homophobia and transphobia exist everywhere, and there are families who might choose not to hire you because of how you identify or present yourself. There are also families who will hire you exactly because of these things.
This doesn’t mean that you have to come out: it’s a deeply personal decision. LGBTQ2S doulas navigate their identities in many different ways. You can incorporate your identity into your business mandate and name, and choose to work primarily with LGBTQ2S communities. You can market to a broader audience but share how you identify in your bio or on social media. You can plaster your website with rainbows. You can ask and expect your clients to use your name and pronouns. You can come out in your meet and greet, or as your relationship with a client builds, or when they ask you about your family. You can come out to some clients and not to others. It’s up to you.
Whatever you choose to do, we’re proud of you.