(Originally posted on January 12, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)
I am not out at work.
A handful of my co-workers are also friends with me on Facebook, and they’re bombarded with my truth on pretty much a daily basis. My super gay life is all I talk about on the Internet these days. But most of the people I work with don’t know I’m gay. Some of them may suspect, I suppose, but they haven’t received any sort of confirmation from me.
My non-work friends are surprised when I tell them this. Some of them can’t fathom the idea of a person knowing me and not knowing that I’m a big lez. To them, my gayness is a blinding rainbow beacon, unwavering and undeniable. “Have they not seen you walk?” they ask.
It’s a fair question.
Until recently, I wasn’t prone to oversharing. I took a passive approach to conversations, not volunteering any information I wasn’t directly asked for. This was a defense mechanism; a way to avoid being judged. And it carried over to small, stupid things, like not mentioning a TV show or band that I liked, for fear of being disagreed with or thought less of. One of the biggest driving forces in my life has always been my need to be liked. And a great way to do that is to sit back, observe, and mirror what people want to hear.
I’ve never liked being conspicuous. I’ve spent most of my life feeling completely different from everyone around me. And this feeling of alienation – of unbelonging – has often driven me to focus all of my energy on being unnoticed. On blending in.
I’m friends with a lesbian who, like me, isn’t out at work. I was surprised when she told me this, because she has a long-term girlfriend. But on reflection, I can believe it. She’s not someone who would have pinged my gaydar; at least not right away. She can certainly pass for straight. And since a lot of ordinary people consider “straight” to be the unquestioned default setting for everyone they meet, it’s possible that she doesn’t have to work very hard to keep this information to herself.
I’ve been out at other workplaces, but never right away, and certainly not with any big declarations. I’ve come out to co-workers gradually, one-on-one, and usually after having formed friendships first. I tell people I’m gay when they ask, and then I assure them that it’s not a secret.
It’s not, really. It’s just not something I lead with. I prefer for people to get to know me first. That way, “lesbian” is a label they’re applying to a person they already know. Once they know me, they like me. Once they like me, it’s less easy for them to dislike all lesbians on principle.
Right? Continue reading “In / Out”