hree weeks ago I began a new working for a new employer. While I am very secure in my skin…or at least I think I am. Getting in the groove of learning new people and building new relationships has always been interesting but not difficult for me. My new company is small (40 employees) and I have an executive position. However, I do not walk around with this “I am the shit” attitude. I am just one of the staff…no airs, no pretense, just me.
The office setting is open for all of us regardless of position have are stationed in cubicles…so it is a very open office concept. Well, today I was talking to a staff member that reports to me. He is going on vacation and I wanted to ensure that there was nothing pressing on his desk that I needed to know about before his departure. Well this staff member asked me if I had any major plans for the weekend. In my honesty I stated that I had to attend a meeting tomorrow (Saturday) morning for this organization I am involved in. The question I was not prepared for was “So what organization?” Being the person I am I stated, “The Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus”. I am sure that took him by surprise. Since the office is very open I am sure he is not the only one that heard my response. In my head I was saying…”Oh God what are they going to think”. Again, while I am very comfortable with all of who I am I felt a slight ting of discomfort saying it out loud in an open office atmosphere. While a little discomfort hit me I can’t allow my fellow employees possible discomfort to place me back in the proverbial closet.
If I would have lied I would have had to either be very silent about who I am or simply lie daily about the real me. I have lived an authentic life (family, church, previous employer, etc.) for over 18 years now; however, I know the coming out process is not a one-time thing I have had to do it numerous times over the years. Just last week I took a personality survey by answering 40 questions and the results were so dead-on about me that it was scary. My personality is one that enjoys people, dislikes people being uncomfortable and making things/situations alright. Therefore, while I am comfortable in my response to my staff person I do not want him to feel uncomfortable in knowing who I am. Now is that my problem…no. Nor should I be ashamed of it. I do not want to feel as if I am smuggling drugs by hiding when my boyfriend drops me off at work and lean over to give him a kiss before exiting the car.
I think when we choose to lie and hide in that “closet” we rob others from knowing us and we shortchange them by thinking they will not be accepting of who we are. We have to understand that individuals we encounter daily may have a family member that is same gender loving with whom they have a great relationship. In making that judgment or putting up that defense we make Or better yet, it could be a teachable moment for that person as well for they may have limited exposure.
Today, I am embracing this opportunity and moment to learn more about myself and grow. I am thankful to God for this experience.