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Share Your Pride: How Mel’s life was changed through overcoming adversity

In celebration of Pride Month, we’ve been sharing the open and honest experiences from some of our LGBTQ2S+ team members and how they’re sharing their Pride this month, and beyond. Mel Boulard, a member of the Customer Experience team, has been with Rogers for the past 15 years. During that time, they have overcome adversity to get themselves to a point where they are proud of who they are, each and every day.

This is Mel’s story.

Tell us about yourself and your experience coming out as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

From a young age, I always knew I wasn’t straight. I was uncomfortable in my skin. However, things were different at that time and acceptance wasn’t what it is today. In my teens, I was in a place where I wanted to accept myself, however, things in life took a drastic turn and fear won. I chose the path to hide myself and try to fit in with everyone else.

As years passed, I struggled with myself, landed in multiple abusive relationships, eventually getting married and having 3 kids. Before my youngest daughter was born, I had a miscarriage. Although it was a difficult time which led to my depression, it also led to my rebirth.

The years following the miscarriage were a whirlwind of change, and it was the birth of my youngest and the end of a depression that helped me stop hiding. I reached out to a friend who had been in a similar situation years before, and she became my advocate and my biggest supporter through my coming out. The thought of raising three girls to become strong and confident in themselves, having never done that myself, made me feel like a hypocrite. Around the same time, my mom fell ill, and I wanted her to know who I really was.  

That’s when I started to accept my true self and officially came out as a lesbian. I first came out to my parents and I was terrified. I wrote my story in a letter and gave it to them and left. Within minutes from reading it, my parents called and said, “You are our child and we love you as you are no matter what.” Hearing that made me cry, but it made me feel happier and safer. From there I came out to my now ex-husband, friends and coworkers.

I remember being terrified to tell each person; however, I was met with an overwhelming response of people accepting and supporting who I am!

In what ways has your life changed since coming out?

Since coming out, my life has completely changed, including my own self confidence and awareness. There have been many ups and downs, from an ongoing divorce, becoming a single mom, finding my amazing fiancé and peeling away layers of my identity. My fiancé is my biggest supporter as I continue to peel away these layers. I’m still in the process of coming out again as non-binary and transmasculine and am on my way to feeling more comfortable in my own skin and in my identity.

I started changing my preferred name at work – as well as pronouns – which was a huge step. I felt as though a weight was starting to lift. I know the road ahead will have it’s share of bumps, however today I cannot be prouder of myself. My coming out has brought a peace to myself and to my home.

I realized the impact this had on my 10-year-old when they came out to me as bisexual and non-binary. In that moment, I knew I had shown my children to be strong and confident with themselves!

Looking back now, what is one piece of advice you’d share with your younger self on feeling at peace with your identity?

Be yourself! Stop fearing what others think or might say and start to peel away those layers to find your true self and identity. You are strong and you will have supporters that will be there for you, you’re not alone. Always remember, beyond fear lies freedom.

How will you be sharing your Pride this year?

We have proudly hung our Pride flag on the house and will be celebrating by joining into the virtual events at work and regionally. If all goes well, I hoping to join the Pride festival locally and in person with my family. We also celebrate Pride daily by just being proud of who we are each day!

Thank you, Mel for sharing your Pride!