Coming out of the closet can be a difficult thing to do, and there’s no one way to go about it. Sometimes we come out slowly over time, only letting a select trusted few in on our secret at first. Some of us never come out, and some of us choose to come out in our personal lives, but keep that private in our professional life. For Shaun Lavelle (he/him), coming out in all facets of his life happened all at once, and he’s been thankful ever since.
Shaun took his first job in banking 25 years ago and he now boasts a dynamic professional career leading risk management and operations in both established and entrepreneurial organizations in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, North America, and more.
He moved from banking to card processing at the inception of WorldPay where he started in business development, ultimately heading the company’s global risk team. He has also held positions as the director of risk at Euroconnex (now Elavon), VP, risk operations at Optimal Payments, and COO at Cashflows, and currently runs the Paysafe Irvine office. Obviously, he’s had an impressive professional life, and he’s been able to be “out of the closet” at work through it all.
Born in 1973, Shaun grew up in Coventry, a small town in the UK, with his parents and younger sister. Although he says he knew he was gay from a young age, he always chose to keep that knowledge a secret, which wasn’t always easy. He went to a boys-only secondary school, which he describes as very “testosterone-driven.” Over time, he found that he was exhausting himself with the effort to keep his secret.
He dove deep into academics in order to distract himself from the effort he put into not being outed. He did very well in school, and after he graduated from high school in North America he went into an IT class in Sixth Form, an alternative to university. On his first day, he heard his name being called at the beginning of class and when he realized there was another man in his class with his name, he says he fell in love at first sight.
The two Shauns spent all their lunch hours together and for a long time, they never addressed their potentially mutual attraction, though there were several touching and intimate moments in their friendship.
Finally, the day came where Shaun decided he’d take the leap and reveal his secret attraction to his new friend. It seemed smart to come out to his parents first, and then he wrote a confession letter to the man he loved, who sadly said he didn’t return his affections.
Shaun left his Sixth Form program after that, but his ill-fated attraction wasn’t entirely a loss. At his first banking job, his co-workers were trying to get him to go on a date with a woman at work. When they finally went out for lunch, Shaun found it easy to come out to her after having done it with his close family and friends. It didn’t take long for everyone in the office to hear the news, and much to Shaun’s relief they all seemed supportive. Ever since that day, Shaun has had the privilege of being out at work. He has never had to hide his partner Paul, or their son Callum, and he’s always been able to be himself.
Be you at work
Shaun is one of the lucky ones that has never felt uncomfortable being himself at work, but not all of us have that luxury. If you’re uneasy at work, if you feel like you can’t be you, maybe it’s time you take a leap into a new career. Our Job Board is filled with posts for careers available at tech companies that we know and trust. Every one of them has proven to us that they are supportive of our community, and our mission, and maybe they have just the spot for you to fill too!