Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are


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.

9 comments:

Micky said...

Hiya!

I'd already posted a little vid about a life in the closet on http://soitsgettingbetter.blogspot.com/

so your post fits in beautifully!

I've therefore put a link to you at the end of mine.

Larry Ohio said...

I'm not shocked. But I definitely am sad. There are many states in which it is perfectly legal to fire an employee for being gay. Terminated for his status which was out of his control.

Advancements in non-discriminatory policies at work protecting LGBT folks are relatively new, and it is too early to see if they are working. However, it is completely foreseeable that even with protections in place, a bigoted employer will still fire gay employees, but justify some other way, or not even give a reason for the termination.

Younger workers remain in the closet because they need to be there in order to survive at work. This will continue regardless of legal protections. As these workers get older, it is easier to come out.

I came out to my friends at age 14, my family at age 24, and at work at age 35. I don't believe the route I took is very much different from other LGBT Americans. And I don't see it changing much any time soon.

Ms. Moon said...

I am not gay so I don't really have an iron in this fire but I agree with you- the more people who know that the nice guy down the hall who can always get the Xerox machine going is gay or that the woman who is such an amazing second grade teacher to their kid is gay, the less fear people will have, the less ability to stereotype.

frogponder said...

Two of my tribe members came out as teenagers. I am so proud of them. One of them wrote a letter about Ref 71 that I'll post today.

Wonder Man said...

it is very sad to think about

Joanne said...

I also find this very very sad. My favourite brother-in-law is not out anywhere - I just wish he was true to himself. Closest he came was bringing his best "friend" to our wedding last year. Whatchagonnado???

DuPree said...

I've always said "#$%& this $%^&" when it comes to this game.

If people can't deal - it's their problem. Not mine.

And while I am sensitive to the plight of those who are afraid to speak up - I say, I've seen what happens to those types of people. People who don't step up and say "this is who I am - deal."

I'm old enough to have seen them commit suicide, be beaten to death cruising for anonymous "love", and living lives of misery -- just to 'pass.'

But we need to make this part of what 'normal' is.

We need to be there and to support and to show others, it's okay to be who you are.

And if we have to kick a little booty.... call me.

There's nothing I like to do more than fight and kiss boys.

:)

Beth said...

It's slowly but surely becoming less scary. I think most kids today are much more tolerant of differences. Not all, of course, but I think that attitudes are changing.

Lou said...

Remind me never to p*ss off DuPree.