The Cost of being Out at work

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.

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One Response to “The Cost of being Out at work”

  1. Dace Says:

    it has always been a sensitive topic. What to expect from people at work either you are gay,transgender, Muslim or just a woman. No matter how we look at it, it always could be better. However, the truth is – we are so different as humans and there will always be somebody who gets hurt, who is too sensitive, somebody who is not considered enough and etc.

    As more you think and as more you work yourself up, the harder it gets. If you feel like fighting for LGBT rights, then you need to find other gay people at work and come up with a plan and educate your coworkers and management.

    I have learned one thing – I am respected for who I am as a person and for the things I do, and not for my sexuality. I have always stood up and educated people if somebody said something inappropriate as I want to be known as a good person who happens to be gay and not as that lesbian who always talks about homosexuality. Also, I have always stood up for other minorities – religion, color, nationality and it all because EQUALITY for me speaks volumes. It is not me, it is not lesbians, it is not Muslims, it is not Catholics, it is not natives, it is all us – all people.

    Dear friend, it is all up to you on how you take it. Yes, there is discrimination, yes, there is violence and hate. But you are the one who decides who you are, what you are and what values you have. Be positive, be an example, educate people, show them respect and they will love you for who you are. Just be yourself….

    Your boss came to you as she didn’t know anybody else. She came to you to tell you that she cares and not to upset you. She came to you, thinking that you would understand….It would be much worse if nobody would talk and nobody would acknowledge. That would mean that nobody cares…

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