A participants holds a rainbow flag during the gay and lesbian pride parade in the center of Madrid on June 30, 2012
Pedro Armestre—AFP/Getty Images
By Matthew Cooper / Quora
January 27, 2017
IDEAS

Answer by Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of EarnUp, on Quora.

Being openly gay has greatly affected my career choices and how I became an entrepreneur. It’s impossible to talk authentically about my startup journey without talking about my queer journey. The two are intrinsically linked.

I came out to my family at 26, the same year I started thinking about EarnUp. In many ways coming out gave me the strength to jump head first to starting EarnUp and taking on the entrepreneur role. The energy to create and explore in my professional life emerged at the same time as my personal life.

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And although I am very privileged to be able to be in a society where I can stand out and proud, being gay deeply shook my self-confidence growing up, and it still does at times today. This has in many ways made me hyper-aware to other communities facing different forms of injustices. It has driven my career path and my ultimate decision to pursue EarnUp.

The financial industry is wrought with various forms of injustices on a socioeconomic level, and this is an area I’ve witnessed first-hand. My parents are struggling under massive amounts of debt heading into retirement; my friends and myself have dealt with the pain of student loans. And across the country, millions of low-income and minority communities suffer from an economic system that is stacked against them. These are the things that push me to make sure EarnUp is successful and truly helping the average American.

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On a personal level, I feel a deep humility and responsibility to be as visible as possible given the lack of LGBT founders today. Writing openly about my experience in forums like the Advocate and working with organizations like StartOut are small ways to giving back—and hopefully will give others the courage to be their authentic self without fear of discrimination.

This question originally appeared on Quora: How has being openly gay affected your career path in Silicon Valley?

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