In / Out

(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”

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Small World

Four months ago, I quit my day job. I had been working full-time at a sign shop, doing graphic design. I spent nearly five years there before I finally threw in the towel.

I had plenty of reasons for leaving. As you might expect, most of them centered around not wanting to be there anymore. But the strongest pull away from that job was a pull toward something. I wanted to try something new. I wanted to make something new. I wanted to stop tailoring my creativity to the desires of my customers, coworkers, and bosses. I wanted only my voice in my head as I worked.

Even at the time, it felt like a pipe dream. It felt silly to walk away from the security of a paying job and plunge into the unknown with no guarantees. Irresponsible, even.

My goal was to make money writing. Four months into this, I don’t feel any closer to that goal. Maybe I haven’t been working hard enough. Maybe I haven’t been working smart enough. Maybe I’ve been too distracted by other tasks, like household chores, and Kijiji sales, and planning our move. Maybe I’ve been inviting these very distractions so I’ll have something to point to when I fail.

I feel like I’ve failed already. Continue reading “Small World”

Flowers at Work

I used to work at a sign shop. I spent nearly five years there before deciding to walk away. For the bulk of that time, I worked with a woman named Barb.

I was single during my first two years with the company. I wasn’t closeted in my personal life, but my gayness hadn’t really come up at work, because why would it? I had told a person or two, but most of my coworkers weren’t aware of my orientation – not for certain, anyway. Barb was no exception.

Kate and I started dating in late 2013. Because she’s the wooing sort, she used to send little treats to me at work now and then. She was sly about it, too. The very first time she brought me something, she slipped out before I even knew she’d been there. Our new receptionist brought a cup of Tim Horton’s hot chocolate to my desk. With it, she delivered one of Kate’s business cards, with the command “Enjoy!” neatly printed on it. Continue reading “Flowers at Work”