I live in a “liberal” city, and work in a “liberal” non-profit. I am very very out at work. I am sure at this point that everyone knows I am queer, although most probably do not know I am bi. I have not experienced any harrassment or negative comments, although I have heard things that are not particularly celebratory or welcoming. I am not afraid of losing my job because of being out.
However, I do feel I am being tokenized for my queerness. Because I am out, and talk about the need for my organization to particpate in training on LGBTQ issues, and because I talk about anti-racism as an issue, I am being boxed into the category of the “cultural competancy girl”. Everyone seems to know that to be a non-profit with any integrity these days you need to at least say you are doing something about cultural competancy. However, no one seems to have the actual knowledge or sensitivity or awareness to do this in a culturally competent way.. At least where I work.
This morning my supervisor came over to me with an article about discrimination in Seattle. She told me how appalled she was to discover how many LGBTQ people experience dscrimination, harrassment or assault because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and how she didn’t know that there wasn’t an anti-discrimination law in WA until 2006.
Great that she is thinking about it. Great she is reading about it. Reading it out loud to me at my cubicle? Totally insensitive to the fact that the article is talking about ME. I am more likely to face discrimination, harrassment or assault because I am queer. How might being read this information that I try not to let consume my life on a daily basis affect me during my work day? Perhaps I would get sad, frustrated, angry. And I have no outlet. Because while I feel comfortable being out, I don’t feel comfortable being totally cadid with most people who work here. People just don’t get it. So, I can go for a walk and talk out my feelings for a few minutes with the one person who really really gets it, but is this how I want my experience of being out at work to be? No, not really.