Saturday, February 4, 2012

Did I Just Step Back Into The Closet?

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.


bisexie said...

come out come out
whereever u are..

i m always supporting u.

smile without a reason why =*

T said...

At this point, work is work. It's not a place to display sexual orientation. Once you've proven that you're valuable to the company, then come out if you want. Unless they discriminate against gay employees, I don't think there's a need to take a stand. I love you.

Biki said...

Being honest and out doesnt mean you have to tell every person you meet your gay. And T is right, again!, work is work, and personal life is personal. Many straight people dont talk about their private life at work, so why should you? If asked directly if you're gay, and you dont think it will put your job in jeporday, then answer honestly. If you think that you could be fired for answering yes, well then its time for hard decision time. Your job or your personal life. Hard choice to make. I dont think its really back in the closet, but I'm sure it feels that way to you.