Until the day this won’t be news, thank you.

A few years ago, I was forced to ‘out’ myself in the workplace.  Another individual screamed that she wanted a “gay” day where she could do nothing but hang out with her gay friends.  Her screeching voice which carried quite a distance in a public setting left me more than a bit uncomfortable as she continued to netter on about how “the gays” were fabulous and she needed more “gay time”.  She continued to promote stereotypes, behaviors and other annoying myths that I came within inches of shouting at her.  Fortunately, the rarely working brain filter caught my words and I spoke my boss the next day.  My supervisor informed me this was acceptable in the work place because the screecher has gay friends.  I asked if it would be ok for me to publically demand a Jewish day because I liked their food and advice? (Also knowing full well the screecher was Jewish).  I was told that would be offensive.  I countered with my statement of “I’m gay, and I found her to be offensive.”  At which point, I was told “I needed to have a thicker skin.”  Let me be clear: this wasn’t a dream job, it was a (barely a paycheck) job.  While I really wasn’t looking for an “oh, I see your point, let me address this with her” type reaction, I certainly wasn’t looking for a “you have to be tougher”.  I wasn’t allowed to be offended by myth promoting (nor was I apparently allowed to promote myths, but that is a different blog).

When you first come out, and really before you do, every homophobic comment feels intentional, as if the person saying it knows your secret and is baiting you into a response.  Coming out generally isn’t celebrated.  Almost every gay person I know has a painful story of loss of somebody in his/her life who decided to alter or end a friendship, lost a job, were excluded from family functions (or given conditions for inclusion) and on and on.  Forming the words for the first time is a gut wrenching, life altering admission to self.  Sharing with others is painful at first.  A friend told me once that ‘being gay is exhausting.’ Meh.  I think being a human in the 21st century is exhausting (or maybe it’s just adulthood when I have a well documented preference for being a kid).  I will grant there is something about that extra layer, people who don’t know fall into a few categories: not sure how they will react, have power (ie, employer) over a person or really, it has never come up in conversation and for me anyway, it isn’t important to the relationship.

Over the weekend, I saw that the Phoenix Suns CEO announced he is gay.  Rick Welts discussed his intentions of announcing his sexual orientation with key executives, players and others before making his announcement.  ESPN reports that Welts met with David Stern the day before Kobe Byrant’s gay bashing tirade.  Quickly going through a list of owners, presidents and managers of men’s sports, I think Welts is the first to come out.  Today, NPR published an article with CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon and his decision to come out.  Lemon points out, rather accurately, that many consider this ‘career suicide’.  I hope not.  I also hope that he doesn’t become the ‘gay’ CNN anchor.

Rick Welts helped this weekend to break down the door for those who work in sports, at all levels be it an athlete or in the front office.  Don Lemon held open the door for those who are African-Americans or working in the news industry.  Sadly, this is still news.  But until the day it isn’t, thank you.  For showing others that you can be gay, you can be successful and you can be admired by your peers for the work you do.  It’s just a few more cracks in that other glass ceiling.

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3 Responses to “Until the day this won’t be news, thank you.”

  1. Karess Says:

    Stands back from the keyboard in aamezmnet! Thanks!

  2. Gump Says:

    Hey, subtle must be your mdidle name. Great post!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks, Lella. I hadn’t read this yet, and I appreciate what you said.

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