28 October 2009

Being straight

Straight, as in truthful, not as in hetero. For the record I’m gay. Gay as in rainbow flag, not as in happy-go-lucky.

I don’t fly the flag at work, but I do have a photo of Cristy and me holding hands on my cork-board. A handful of colleagues, including my boss, have met Cristy and a fair number of other colleagues know that I am gay and that she and I are involved in a loving, committed relationship.

Last week, as I was having a casual conversation with a co-worker in our office-kitchenette, it occurred to me that he thought that I was straight (as in hetero). In my mind, I had at least a few options: (a) immediately set the record straight (as in truthful), (b) ignore it – his assumptions are his business or (c) worry about it later. My preference would have been option (a), however a variety of work-related scheduling considerations prevented me from entering into what undoubtedly would have become a somewhat lengthy and personal conversation. I defaulted to option (c).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in option (b) as well – allowing everyone the opportunity to form their own opinions. But there comes a time in the formation of human relationships when trust and honesty trumps the “don’t ask-don’t tell” approach. My relationship with this coworker, while not personally close, is genuinely respectful and affectionate. I like to talk with him and enjoy hearing stories about his family. I appreciate him as an individual and as a professional. He is one of the many, many reasons that I love my job. So in my mind, not setting the record straight with him about being gay is lying. I cannot envision myself lying to this individual under any other set of circumstances, so why would I lie about this?

The truth is, I won’t. I will find an appropriate opportunity to fill him in on the missing information that will assemble a complete representation of my reality. I respect his ability as a mature human to adjust to the new information and reshape his opinions about me, if that is what he might choose to do. But I don’t think he will. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt about managing gay-out news. I think of it as little more than a slice of information that doesn’t affect anyone else personally. Oh, she has 5 dogs. Oh, she’s moving to a new house. Oh, she sent out that report with all those cool graphs last week. Oh, she’s involved in a committed relationship with another female.

Am I oversimplifying this perhaps just a tad? OK, possibly, but only to the extent that I'm not accounting for the element of surprise. Other than that, I don’t think so. I’m being straight here.

1 comment:

  1. I dream of the day when being straight or gay is not an assumption or something anyone feels the need to clarify. I know we're far from it but we'll get there. I'm straight but have many gay friends, close friends. And the thing is, I don't see anyone in my life as gay or straight really. People in my life are in it because I love them, admire them, trust them, all the good stuff of course. Like anyone, straight or gay they have faults too. But, being straight or gay has really nothing to do with why they're in my life. Good and bad people come in both straight and gay.
    And of course you've been dealing with this kind of issue in a way I've never had to but my reaction always is, if someone wants to know "what I am", they will eventually just by getting to know me. And at that point they can judge or not, whatever, that's their choice. When I've been at new jobs, the people that are trying to get to know me, or just being nosy, eventually will ask "Are you married, do you have kids, etc." The ones who don't ask I assume either don't care or are respecting my privacy, so I don't tell them anything. I live with my boyfriend now, and not too long ago that was judge quite harshly too. Living in sin! Holy crap right? But not disclosing that to someone who has never asked about my personal would not feel like a lie to me though. It's different with being gay I know, but don't feel bad about not disclosing.
    Ok, I've ranted long enough. Good luck with your co-worker!