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.