• Shannon Wong Lerner, Ph.D.

First Article, Coming Out, Going Within: Curating the Self-Image of Newly Out Gay / Queer People


My Closeted Self and My Out Self


This is the first 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.


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My face on the selfies I took right before leaving for my photoshoot say it all

I had my mini photoshoot this weekend and felt like a total weirdo!


I had put on makeup, a white sports bra, and a white dress thing I don’t really wear anymore. And I was just grinning standing in front of a bunch of different murals on Del Paso feeling like a total idiot or a clown.


So I had a long conversation with the photographer about this before he left. At first, he asked me about my day-to-day work routines. What is around me. And what do I do that makes me feel like myself. He suggested a lot of props. A coffeecup. My laptop. A journal. And even my cat!


At first I thought it was my clothes. I’m a lot more casual when I’m with clients. I don't wear dresses or business clothes. I typically just wear a hoodie and jeans. And I feel good that way. I work in communication and coach LGBTQIA+ people, PoC, and QPoC in speaking skills. They're so nervous when they come to me. I have a doctorate and my profile is impressive. But I don't need to show off in how I appear when I work. So not only do I feel good wearing these clothes, but I think it makes my clients feel like they can be themselves. But it wasn't really just the clothes.

I sat and thought about it and realized that my discomfort during this mini-photo shoot was a much bigger event and pattern that I needed to look into.


I have been talking a lot about my self-image and gender expression lately. I've compared this feeling of dissociation to gender dysphoria in my social media and meditations I lead for queer people. Not as someone who is trans. But as someone who is newly out as gay / queer. And whose gender expression has been shifting.

I used to be femme (although knew it as feminine at the time) and I made sure I was so put together—And wore make up every day. Many times dresses, skirts, and even heels.


Now wearing too much make up or in the way I did before before triggers all the years and decades I spent closeted. And I see the uniform I was trying to put on to perform heterosexuality and what I thought a “normal” woman was supposed to look like.

When you see my face in the makeup I look so dissociated and even sad. And I think the photographer could sense that I wasn’t comfortable. After I shared my realization about my shifting gender expression. And being newly out. He suggested a lot of different options so I would feel more like myself. Even as I'm shifting. And be represented more as me. And that I shouldn’t feel I have to “put on” anything.

Not a dress. Nor special outfit. Not a face. Or a particular attitude or personality. So I’m working on that. I want to feel and represent myself authentically. For myself. For my brand. And as an example for my clients.


Follow me on LinkedIn for more. I will also be releasing a newsletter so you can stay up to date on my journey and these stories of Coming Out, Going Within.


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BIO: As a longstanding multicultural coach & personal brand storyteller who brings full-service, high-level communication courses to diverse clientele – I consider myself to be a 🦄!


I have 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.

My clients have remarkably high success rates as professionals, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and presenters.


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 — I enjoy 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.


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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.

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