When I myself accepted my homosexuality and came out to many of my friends, I decided I wasn’t going to come out at work. Much like my reasoning for not telling my extended family, I decided it wasn’t relevant to my work-life. Rarely does the topic of significant others arise in my department. When it does, I am probably thought of as the ambiguous bachelor.
I’m quite close with my coworkers. One of them described our department best when she said, “I love our dorm-room work environment.” Very few subjects are taboo. It’s like working in a Seinfeld episode. On the contrary, my boss is a born-again Christian. I’m not too sure how accepting of my lifestyle he would be. I’ve never given him the chance to prove me wrong, but like I said, it is not relevant.
While I was dating Broadway, it became necessary for me to tell coworkers I was in a relationship. Like my friends originally, I led them to believe I was dating a woman. I explained it as a no-strings-attached relationship to compensate for never bringing “her” around or talking about her.
After a while, I got to the point of needing to tell one of them. The lying was geting to me. On top of that, I spend 8+ hours a day there. I needed to talk about it. It’s my nature.
I have been working with my current officemate for 3+ years (at 2 different companies). She is very outspoken and lacks the filter many of us were born with (this also happens to be the reason why I love her). Many times, she said to me, “You better not turn out to be gay, or I’m going to have a lot of explaining and apologizing to do.” The first time hearing this, I asked her to elaborate. She told me it was because many of my coworkers have asked her about my sexual orientation, and she told them flat out I was straight.
While most times I appreciate her frankness, this got under my skin. I didn’t appreciate my sexuality being the topic of any conversation. So when I finally came out to a coworker, it wasn’t her.
Over the year I worked at my current company, I came to know and trust one of my coworkers. I saw how professional she dealt with her job and how she was able to compartmentalize. I knew if I confided in her, she would be a lock box. I just prayed the key wasn’t an array of mini liquor bottles like Elaine on Seinfeld. She also had a gay roommate, so I knew she would be accepting of my sexuality.
When I finally felt comfortable telling her, I messaged her on AIM. She sat 10 feet away from me, and I’m surprised she didn’t get whiplash from turning her head so fast. She became my confidant, and over time, I felt comfortable telling my office mate as well. But that didn’t stop me from explaining to her why it took me so long to tell her.
I feel that many of my other coworkers either know or suspect I’m gay. That means they’re either clueless, or they have enough respect for me not to ask. And I’m fine with that arrangement. It’s none of their business quite frankly.
I question every day whether I should tell them or not. I trust them, but I also feel the more people I tell at work, the faster it spreads. I’m afraid people may judge me or look at me differently, and I’m not ready for that. I don’t plan to stay at this company forever. Maybe when I change jobs and start fresh, I will feel comfortable being my whole self with my coworkers, with no reservations.