I find this report shocking and sad, well, mostly sad.
It seems that most--and it's estimated at 51%--LGBT people are not out at work. And while in many places in this country it may not be safe for gay men and women to come out, they have been major advancements in non-discriminatory policies and acceptance of LGBT people.
One of the most interesting aspects of this report--the “Degrees of Equality: A National Study Examining Workplace Climate for LGBT Employees”--is that many of those workers who aren't out on the job are young gay men and women. I find this shocking, and sad. This is the generation that can make change, can vote and campaign and sponsor and donate toward causes and candidates that will make certain that the LGBT community finally achieves equality in all aspects of life. But, according to the report, only five-percent of LGBT employees from 18 to 24 are out.
Shocking. And sad.
And I know it isn't easy coming out at work. I struggled with it for a time until I decided to stop lying, and hiding. I wanted to tell people about my weekend without having to edit the conversation so that secrets stay secret. I wanted to say "My boyfriend and I went to see...." or "My partner and I had friends over for dinner." I was tired of "I went to the movies with a friend."
Friend. When it is so much more.
So, I chose, and choose, not to lie. I don't wear the I'm Not Gay But My boyfriend Is T-shirt, or have a Rainbow flag lapel pin, but I have always talked about Carlos by name. By name. It seems such a simple thing. Carlos and I went to the movies: Carlos and I worked in the yard. Yet it isn't so easy, when you get "the look," when you get the vibe that people have stepped back just a little in case it's contagious.
It isn't. But we're still made to feel that it might be.So, I understand the fear of coming out at work. Fear of advancement, fear of getting fired, fear of verbal abuse, fear of physical abuse. I know the world isn't as open as it can be; I know there are people using their own fear and ignorance to keep those people who are different down, and, well, not out, but in.
But I also believe that if we're all out, the idea that you're gay loses it's shock value. It won't cause stares or silences, it won't make people back up a little. People will realize it isn't something new or different , it just is.
I am what I am.