Oi, this sounds bad. No, I’m not saying I’m a hooker or anything but rather that this post is about how I manage – or actually not manage – my queerness at work. The thing is, I don’t mind being out at work in general. Not everyone knows but mainly because it hasn’t come up yet and I’m not running around waving my rainbow flag all over the place. That’s just not how I roll but I promised myself I will always be honest when the topic arises because visibility matters and I don’t want to live in any closet anymore.
The other day, I landed in some kind of dilemma, or it is at least one for me, not so much anyone else as it mostly concerns how I feel about this. I also don’t have a real solution to this because…well, let me paint you a picture first, maybe that will help.
My job as an external HSE Engineer involves going into a whole lot of different companies on a daily basis. These companies are our clients and I am supposed to be their adviser when it comes to health and safety regulations. There is this one company, and I’ve been to it a few times already since we work for them. The head of said company is an older guy, he is generally nice but definitely older, like probably already in his 60s. So when we somehow landed on the topic of feminism and men holding doors open for women, I chickened out.
Now I have quite a lot of opinions on feminism in general, way more than I want to discuss at the end of a work day with a guy I only see a couple of times a year (at best). He suggested though that one day I will think differently and will want my husband to hold open the door for me, carry my things and remember my birthday and anniversaries. So in the matter of a few seconds I had to make a decision whether to say that I’m gay and thus will never end with a guy or just take a vague cop out. I opted for the cop out because it seemed best at the time though I kept feeling wrong afterwards, hence this post and a small Twitter feels vomit.
Because I made a pact with myself to be open about it. Fuck other peoples potential prejudices.
And I didn’t even know how he would react, I just assumed he could be homophobic. Maybe this was the smarter decision from a company standpoint because I don’t want to jeopardise my work relationship with the guy at all but I also can’t stop thinking about this.
Because, for me, personally, this was the wrong decision I made. I know that now. I wouldn’t be still turning these things over in my head if I had been 100% okay with what route I took. Naturally it is non of his beeswax if I’m gay or straight or like to have smutty phantasies about dinosaurs in my free time, so it shouldn’t matter so much what I did. Maybe I will get the chance one day to rectify this misstep, after I’ve gotten to know him better, I don’t know and it shouldn’t matter but it kind of does.
Sometimes these things just hit me, because this constant struggle of coming out is one that queer folks have to do over and over again because we live in a heteronormative society and people simply assume everyone is straight. I do it too, actually. I’m only at the beginning of my working life so far and this is not an issue exclusive to this part of my life but a thing to consider whenever I meet new people.
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t have a solution for this. In hindsight I would do it differently because I had time to think it over and maybe next time I will react differently, I can’t say with certainty though. I guess, I have to learn to navigate these queer waters.
But it’s also slightly terrifying because you never truly know how anyone will react. And I should keep my private life separate from my professional life, at least the one I lead when I’m not at the office and am actually representing my own company. As I type this out though, it really sounds stupid to me.
I am not someone who holds back. I’m loud and obnoxious at times. I say too much and make sarcastic comments in the wrong moments. I am open and direct so keeping my sexual orientation to myself would mean, hiding a part of myself; really and truly not being genuine. This is who and how I am and I’m proud of the person I am. On most days, at least. There are people who are much better at compartmentalising and this is also not the solution for everybody but at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you and not someone else.
Also, can I take a moment to point out some of there other things that bothered me with his “one day you will change your mind statement”?
I can very well get my own damn door, change my own tires etc.
Remembering your significant other’s birthday or your wedding anniversary is common decency and has nothing to do with whether you are in a hetero- or homosexual relationship.
And I will not necessarily change my mind on anything because I’m stubborn and headstrong!
I guess I got my answer after all. Sometimes the easy road is not the right one to take and I have to remember that for the next time. And the one after that. Thanks internet, for letting me ramble and figure my shit out by myself. So long, and thanks for all the fish.