When I was working at my old job, I was partly in the closet. I was out to my boss (who was also gay) and one other co-worker (a lesbian). I was not out to anyone else. Not because I was afraid for my job, the company has a fairly strong anti-discrimination policy, it's just that a lot of my co-workers had known me for a long time and I didn't want to seem like the guy on Jerry Springer's Show, who comes out of the closet and leaves his family.
Once I got laid off, I made it a point to check out the companies I applied to. Did they have written protections for gay people? In my state, it is OKEY DOKEY to fire someone for being gay. In fact, I could be fired and the company could put in writing that the only reason they are letting me go is because I am gay. Knowing that, it was important to find a company with internal protections.
Knowing this, I had made the decision in my head that I would be open and honest about who I am and my personal relationship. Not that I talk about my personal life that much at work anyway, but as you talk to people things like this eventually come up. It just seems like the right thing to do, is to be honest from the beginning.
Yesterday, I had lunch with my new boss and another guy they hired in my area. This company now has 5 employees in North America. Two in my state and the other 3 in California (my boss is based there). It was a getting-to-know-you lunch. It was very casual. We got our official written job offers and then standard confidentiality agreements to sign. We talked about what my role would be and my upcoming trip to England.
As we sat there, Boss fired up his laptop and started booking airplane tickets for us. After selecting the flights you have to supply the airline with personal information. Gender is one of the things they ask, in addition to birth date and some other stuff. So as Boss is entering information he is talking out loud. When he gets to gender, he looks up at the other guy and says, "You're male, right?"
Then he goes on to tell the story of a person working in the UK office who he described as "indeterminate sex" He did not say it in a way that suggested he was sympathetic to the plight of transsexual people. I said nothing.
Later on, we were talking about Boss's home town which is just outside San Francisco. The other guy (who is from the deep south) mentioned how he thought it was beautiful there when he visited several years ago. During that visit two guys had tried to pick him up. He sounded like he did not like the fags hitting on him. At this point I told him maybe he should be flattered. He didn't answer, but I don't think he was flattered.
By now, I decided this was not the time to be talking about my personal relationships. When the meeting was over, I walked away happy I had landed a good job, but not as happy I may have to go back into the closet during working hours.
I am gay man in his 40's who was married for 18 years to a straight woman, who is still my very best friend. We have 4 children together. She is now remarried and we still want to be supportive of each other and make a stable family for our kids.
Cast of Characters
Jim: That's me
K: The wonderful woman I married in 1993. We divorced in November 2011, and she is still my best friend.
T: My ex-boyfriend. We were together from 2008 to 2013. He is still an important person in my life.
AJ: K's new husband. They got married December 2011.
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