Monday, February 21, 2011

"I Knew It!"

That's what my "boss"/supervisor said when I came out to her the other day.

No, I'm not out at work (well, until last Friday).  But, I'm not "in" either.

When J and I moved to set up our family in Texas with UncleR and Big C, it was a move "up" in regards to my new relationship status, my new family status, and my new level of happiness.  BUT, it was definitely a lateral move in terms of living in an area that is open and accepting of the LGBTQ community.  In other words, I moved from a small, religiously conservative town that lacked support for gays TO a small, religiously conservative town that lacks support for gays. 

I also work for a school a small, religiously conservative town that lacks support for gays.  My work environment is not conducive to me being "out".  The stories that we all hear where members of the LGBTQ community are terminated from public schools after exposing (or not) their sexual orientation are enough to ensure my selectiveness in revealing my personal details.  In fact, at my last school district, I took over the position for a woman who I was told, in no uncertain terms, was fired after the principal found out she was a lesbian.  Of course, that's not what they told her. 

All this to say, I've been extremely careful about revealing my personal details at my place of employment.  But, I'm not closeted.  Instead, I exist in a sort of self-imposed status of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  No one's asked, so I don't tell.  I speak about my family often at work.  I refuse to lie and haven't lied about my family life or love life.  Instead, I limit the amount of personal information I share with work colleagues.  Period.  No one's asked either.

I assume that "they" have assumed I'm straight.  Probably because they know I have a child...the societal assumption being that all people that have children are, obviously, heterosexual.  This fact pisses me off.  What if I wanted to put up family pictures on my office desk?  What if I wanted to refer to my "partner"?  Essentially, I've then TOLD on myself.  So, no family photos.  And no revealing discussions about my personal life.  I just steer clear.  Which also breaks my heart.  This is the happiest time of my life...I'm fulfilled in ways I cannot explain.  I'm getting married for Christ's sake.  And I haven't shared this with any of my work colleagues.

Until Friday.

In the midst of a very serious discussion with my supervisor, I "told".  It was the right time.  It happened naturally.  And I felt comfortable enough and (sad to say this) SAFE enough to come out of my self-imposed closet.  And her immediate response was:  "I knew it!"  I laughed, she laughed, and she congratulated me with tears in her eyes for my impending marriage. 

Later Friday night, after I'd been home for several hours, my supervisor texted me.  She thanked me for trusting her enough to share my life with her.  She said she was "proud" to call me her friend.  This time, I was the one with tears in my eyes.

UncleR and I have had several conversations about my angst over working in an environment where it truly is not "safe" for me to be completely out.  I feel, as does she, that we have a duty as gays and lesbians to show those around us that we're just like and through being out...we need to show the closed-minded ignorant masses that we work, we have families, we put one pant leg on at a time, just like they do. 

What possible consequences are worth hiding your true self/life?  Is the possibility of discrimination or even termination WORTH (essentially) lying by omission? 

Nah.  It ain't worth it. 

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