Generally speaking, I do not “officially” come out at work. It’s not that I deny or hide the fact that I’m a gay man, and I suspect that most people who see me at work at least suspect or even assume that I’m gay, given the number of stereotypical characteristics I happen to exhibit. But after becoming the “office curisiosity” at my first job, I otherwise tend to not discuss my sexuality or my love life on any job.
But like I said, I don’t hide who I am either. In fact, I don’t even think about what it would take to hide who I am, as my experience yesterday so aptly proved. For various reasons, I decided to bring my iPad in to work with me. As much of my desk is covered with computers and equipment for my job, I placed my beloved device on the safest space still left clear on my desk: The corner that’s right next to the walkway through my work area. I then started taking care of my work and didn’t think of my iPad again until around 2pm (five hours later).
That’s when it occurred to me that I had, as is my custom, laid my iPad so that the screen was face down and the cover was facing upward, visible to anyone who walked by and happened to glance down at my desk. That cover happens to look like this (except it has a few stains on it now):
Well, if people at work didn’t suspect, they surely do now!
Personally, beyond being somewhat embarrassing and a sign of how little I think about these things these days, this really isn’t a big deal for me. I’m very fortunate — even privileged — by the fact that I work in a field (software engineering) that (in my experience at least) tends to be fairly tolerant of those who fall outside of many societal norms in exchange for the work done by such people. Plus, I’m privileged enough to live in a state that includes non-discrimination protections based on sexual orienation. (We’re still working on getting non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and gender expression, though.) As such, I can rest comfortably in the knowledge that, unlike someone who works in a less skilled job and/or has the disadvantage of working in a state that permits hostility toward and workplace discrimination against non-heterosexual people, the worst thing that will happen to me is a bit of embarrassment.
While I’m grateful for that, I also want to take this time to advocate for those who are not as privileged, who might face much more severe consequences if it became known in their workplace that they were part of the QUILTBAG community. If you live in a place that doesn’t offer non-discrimination protections for QUILTBAG people, please advocate for such protections. Here in New York State, the Empire State Pride Agenda is still pushing for the passage of GENDA, and I’m sure other states have organizations pushing for such policies. Please consider supporting them with your voice and possibly your money.
And don’t forget the national organizations that help with these fights not only on a federal level, but with assistance on state levels as well.