June 26, 2010

I'm Coming Out... Again???

So, I've been a bit MIA on the blog for a while but with good reason. I've been working at Duke this summer doing a lot of the behind the scenes work helping to organize all the summer camps like TIP (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Brandy! :D ) I've gone back and forth about writing about this for a while but something happened recently to seal my decision.

Anyway, I work in a small office with 5 other people. They're all really great to work with and I'm pretty good friends with one of the other student workers. So I felt moderately at ease around them. That is, until one of my co-workers asked the question: Is he gay? Funny thing is, he was asking me if I thought one of our supervisors was gay despite him having a wife and children.

I honestly do not remember how I answered him. I was too caught up in the thought that maybe he was homophobic or thought gay people were destined to hell. Why was he so concerned about our supervisor's private life? The little bubble of safety I once felt now lay shattered on the ground around me. I heard a faint laughter, something mocking me: "You thought you were safe. You were wrong. *Insert evil snicker*" I panicked. I made up some excuse to leave and came back to my room. Was I going to have to come out again? Wasn't the first time enough? Is it NECESSARY that I come out? Why should I have to? But I decided to let it go and just forget about it. I was probably just overreacting anyway.

A few days ago, a different co-worker began telling me about a party his fraternity was going to throw at their off-campus house. In his attempt to win over my RSVP, he mentioned the amounts of drinks there would be and how a friend of his was going to bring "a ton of hot dancer chicks from the American Dance Festival." I looked at him and laughed. Little did he know how pathetic his attempt to make me want to go to his party only made me want to go less. Don't get me wrong. I love a good party just as much as the next guy, but by 1) using women as his selling point which infuriated me to no end and 2) thinking I was some hormone-driven dog, I had no problem turning down his offer. But then, he did something I didn't expect: "Why not?"

Oh no. I'm going to have to do it again. I'm going to have to come out to him, aren't I? Just like they did the first time I tried to come out to my friends, the words formed a simple sentence in my mind, traveled down to my lips, but couldn't pass them. If I could have turned red with anxiety, I would have. I hurriedly made up some half-baked excuse about wanting to get some rest and just relax. He left me alone. Crisis averted, right?

Temporarily, yes. But I just can't shake it. Why did I have so much trouble proclaiming something that I say so often now, something that I'm proud of? Am I still afraid of the sideways glances and evil glares? Am I terrified of the words he'll say? Do I think he'll look at me any differently? Am I really as open and proud of who I am as I'd like myself to believe? Is it just because of the people I usually surround myself with, ones that are accepting and loving and caring and open? This guy certainly isn't a person that I would normally hang out with on a regular basis. I mean, there's nothing wrong with him but it's just a mismatch of personalities and interests.

Something else struck me: I'm so worried about him judging and stereotyping me, but what if I'm doing the exact same thing to him? Could I possibly be going through this struggle because I'm stereotyping him to say what I would expect someone like him to say? Am I causing myself anxiety about being stereotyped because of my own stereotypes?

Answer: I am.

It's funny, you know. I always expect people to make leaps and bounds towards forgetting stereotypes and being more open-minded but, as evidenced by this, I still have my own progress to make in stereotyping. Part of me just wants to come out with it (pun only slightly intended) and just say I'm gay. But another part of me is mortified. I have to work with these people for the rest of the summer. What if things get awkward? Will our work dynamic suffer? On the other hand, what if there's absolutely no problem with it at all? Gah! I'm giving myself a headache going around and around in circles like this. I give up. Should I come out (with a proper parade and floats and rainbows, just kidding... sort of) or is there really no need to?

Any suggestions?


  1. This is tough, dear. You need to do what you think is best, first of all. Also, if your true sexuality is going to throw off the work dynamic, then that is something that they have to deal with. You accepted that guy in all of his fratty glory, he should do you the same service.

    Personally, I am simply myself and don't reveal any information unless people ask. If they want to assume I'm hispanic or that I go to Duke, they can go ahead and do that, but if they ask me, I'll correct them.

    You're being confronted with people who automatically assume you're straight and want you to do the things straight people do. Also, your infuriation with him is already throwing off your work dynamic subtly.

    Just do what you think, in your heart, is right. The information is yours to volunteer and your workplace should uphold the ideals of professionalism.

  2. So real. So honest. I really appreciate this =)

  3. Hey AJ! I'm with Chantel-I really love reading about your experiences because they are so real and so easy to relate to. =)

    As for the coming out at work part-I know it took me forever to tell my boss I'm LGBT (over a year!), so I can really relate to this. I guess the best advice I can give you is to do it when you're ready. It would have been weird for me to come out to my boss when I wasn't comfortable with her knowing yet. I know that might not be what you were looking for, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that you'll probably know in your own self what's the right time. :D And then knowing you, you'll come out with the full gusto of AJ! Best of luck with this!