Thursday, November 3, 2011

Outed myself at work

A month ago, I blogged about a former colleague,  working at another location, who already had heard that I was gay.   Since then, we've exchanged several e-mails with filled with support and good advice.  Well, this week, I outed myself to many of the people I work with.  As I expected, it turned out to be a total non-event.

After eight months, it had finally become known in my workplace that my wife and I are getting divorced.   I didn't tell anyone about my separation before because (1) I didn't need emotional support from anyone;  I was generally very happy  (2) I wasn't going to trash-talk my wife and (3) I didn't want to my wife to hear I was gossiping about her... it would have made everything much worse.

While everyone was highly supportive of me, some had heard through the grapevine about my wife's occasional erratic behaviour at her workplace.  She has had to leave work many times with the odd sobbing spell and has generally being pretty snappish to those around her.

I had a faint sense that my colleagues weren't particularly sympathetic to my wife's emotional distress in what should have been a very routine separation / divorce.   In defense of her, I told many of my colleagues that ours wasn't just any divorce.

I made a snap decision and I told them that I had come as gay to my wife nearly two years ago.  I tried to convey to them how shattering this news would be to any woman, let alone someone with as much past emotional baggage as my wife.  I think they now understand the depth of her distress and anger .... and how devastated she must be.

I now regard my gayness as something to celebrate.  All my colleagues picked up on that and were hugely supportive and happy for me.  Most commented on how much happier I've been in recent months (despite our divorce drama) and how relieved I must be to have it all out in the open.

My closest colleague, Ken, is a guy who is highly "gay-aware" and sympathetic, having lived on the edge of Toronto's Church - Wellesley gay village for years with his girlfriend, attended many Gay Pride parades and had many gay friends from his former life as a competitive swimmer.   I asked Ken, "Did you have any idea at all that I was gay?"  He said, "no" .... absolutely not"  He said that he did not have the slightest inkling of it.  I don't quite believe him .... I think I have a pretty gay-sounding voice.)

To contrast, another colleague who (also works closely with my wife) and I discussed our respective divorces.  Recently, her husband told her, out of the blue, "I don't want to be married to you anymore."   This launched a nasty, adversarial divorce battle.   While she was completely devastated by her husband's announcement, I tried to explain to her that my wife's sense of betrayal and anger was far worse.   I told her that I was gay.

She responded, "Oh, I know!"   I said, "So my wife told you?"

She said, "No, I've always known, right from the first time we met ten years ago.  I always sensed that you were two-spirited ......  that you had an understanding of both sides.   I thought that it was a very special quality in you."

 I thought, Wow!   "A very special quality in you."   If only all the bigoted, gay-intolerant people in the world could see our gayness this way.   She is a very special lady.


  1. "...I think I have a pretty gay-sounding voice." I think you're mistaking gay with Canadian.

    LOL Oh I'm sorry Buddy, but that was just too good to pass up. You know I totally love you :-)

    I love the concept of 'two-spirit'. Native Americans celebrated their two-spirited brothers and sisters. Why can't other cultures?

  2. A gay sounding voice eh? Let us be the judge of that! Let's hear it! (I've always thought I sounded gay too, but only when I hear recordings of myself.)

  3. Contratulations on this other very big step!

    And yes, the "two-spirits" have always been respected amongst Native Americans and in North-East Asia, and many other places in the world!


  4. You've made an awesome step forward! Congratulations. I was thinking the other day how liberating (again) it feels to be able to openly converse about my boyfriend with my coworkers just like they talk about their spouses. It's great to be able to share life stories with each other and no longer having to worry that someone will discover my secret. I don't think the average person understands the true depth of how important that is to a person's mental well-being. Hugs Buddy!

  5. Congratulations. That's a big step. Especially considering you are around your co-workers for more hours of the week than most people are around their own families. (Wow, that sounds depressing.) But it helps to be able to be yourself around them.

  6. I celebrate the fact that coming out is a non-event, as it should be. The whole concept of coming out is a bit weird. If we’re going to have it, it should be applied equitably across the board. Everyone gets to come out, even straight people. Declare your sexuality! The world wants to know! Not. Maybe someday people can just be.
    @Cubby: ROTFLMAO! Good one!

  7. "Recently, her husband told her, out of the blue, "I don't want to be married to you anymore." This launched a nasty, adversarial divorce battle."

    Comparisons are odious.

    Your friend is dealing with rejection and your wife is dealing with a sense of betrayal. Both are grieving losses - the deaths of dreams for a future that you once shared and parts of their identities (for some women I beleive that being someone's mom or wife can be a part of their identity in addition to the self identity - part of it may just be how some societies are). From what you have written, although there are difficulties, you are not rejecting your wife or your responsibilities to the family that you created together. As you have written, you are continuing to work together despite the pains and aggravations. It does not sound as though your co-worker has this.

  8. anne marie in phillyNovember 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    nice pix, buddy! and congrats on being accepted for who you are without question!

  9. I had coffee with a former co worker today. I came out to her about 2 years ago. She has always been very supportive. When I told about my journey out, she was there for me. BUT, she agrees it will be easier for me at new job than at the old one. Reason? Most of the people I work with now are less than 30 years old. Funny, I am the oldest one there. First time ever for me. I hope when Feb comes, it becomes my non-event. In the meantime, I am gradually coming out to a select few I trust and who are all giving me support. Best wishes to you. And I know I don't have to say this, but please be extra supportive to co worker. What a contrast between your behavior and her spouse. If you didn't know you were amazing before. You should now.

  10. Congratulations on coming out (so to speak). That is a big step for many people and a sign of how much more comfortable you are in your own skin.


  11. Cubby: are you saying that all Canadian men have a gay accent? If word gets out about your stereotypical view, you'll be met at the border by mob of angry Canadian guys, throwing glitter and lashing you with their pink feather boas.

    Jack: I loved the video you posted of yourself. I plan to post a talking video one day, but maybe after my divorce is finalized.

    Thank you, everyone! Coming out really was not a big deal in my workplace; remember, my employer is a leader in Canada in celebrating LGBTQ people. I made a snap decision to out myself as my colleagues were starting to get a negative impression about my wife and her "drama moments" (via the office grapevine) without fully appreciating the cause.

    Will: very wise comments, indeed! Other than maybe not coming out to my wife a few years earlier than I did, I feel that I've "done the right thing" ever since.

    Skier: best of luck on your coming out... a gradual approach is good, I think. And yes, I feel a special to connection to my colleague who said, "I thought it was a very special quality in you." That was the sweetest thing to say.

  12. I'm so proud of you, my friend!

    For most, coming out is a non-event.

    Celebrate the good friends in your life. They are reflections of the goodness in you!


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