Coming Out Day is held annually on October 11. Launched in the USA in 1988, Coming Out Day aims to encourage people to come out, to make the LGBT*IQ community visible and to reduce prejudice.

Coming out is an identity process: it is about self-knowledge, acceptance of one’s own person, and having the courage to tell others. That’s why affected people often spend years thinking about how and when to come out. Uncertainty and fear play a big role – of the reaction of the family, of conflicts with close people, of the reaction of superiors and colleagues, often accompanied by the fear of a career break. With a coming out, affected persons therefore give a great leap of faith, which must be protected. Knowing well that parents, managers and colleagues may also have to go through a process (contradictory feelings, worries, acceptance) – they should nevertheless be strengthened right at the beginning. Communication is therefore very important: How everyone can support well, which questions should be given space (and which should be avoided), we illuminated in a joint panel discussion with our PROUT EMPLOYER Commerzbank AG.

This event took place in German. The recording of the panel discussion can be found here:


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The panelists:

“The relationship between siblings is a special one and, for me, one of the most important in the family that doesn’t stop with adulthood. For example, I was the first contact person, at least in front of my parents, when my brother came out about 20 years ago. At the time, I was overwhelmed and asked questions like, “Are you sure?”. Yet it was I myself who was unsure and felt helpless. Today, I want to create trust through education and I’m really looking forward to this exchange.”

Sofia Strabis, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Commerzbank AG

“Since my coming out, I have been open about the subject. I feel responsible for my children in particular. After all, how are they and others supposed to deal with it as a matter of course if I don’t do it myself? You can only break down prejudices if you get into a conversation. With my voluntary commitment as ARCO spokesperson and as a board member of LSVD Saxony, I therefore want to ensure visibility and also encourage others.”

Sabine Schanzmann-Wey, Regional Press Officer and ARCO Spokesperson, Commerzbank AG, Member of the Board of LSVD Sachsen e.V.

“When my daughter told us she was a lesbian in 2006, when she was twelve, I was, to be honest, a bit taken aback. Because until then I hadn’t really been aware of the queer world. This was an impetus to deal with the topic. Today, based on my own experiences as a father and also as a manager, I want to support, raise awareness and advocate for an open and tolerant work environment.”

Paul Fillmore, Divisional Board Group Risk Control, Commerzbank AG

“I know from my own personal experiences how difficult but also important it is to come out in private and at work. We all, friends, family, parents and colleagues, contribute a great deal to an open culture in society and at work. Our common goal should be that everyone who wants to come out can do so – without experiencing any disadvantages or exclusion.”

Dr. Jean-Luc Vey, Executive Board, PROUT AT WORK-Foundation