work retreats over the weekend, my secretary stopped talking to me after she found out I’m queer, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Work retreats over the weekend

My company wants to have a retreat Friday to Saturday, which means my weekend would be shortened to Sunday. Is this normal for retreats? If I don’t have a two-day weekend to recharge by myself I feel like I’ll get burned out. I’m wondering if pushing back and asking for Thursday to Friday would be more reasonable. I’ve never had a retreat before, so I don’t know if giving up a weekend is normal in the working world.

It’s not unheard of for a retreat or other work event to take up a weekend day. If you’re in a salaried, professional job and it’s infrequent, like once a year, it’s generally considered just part of the job. (However, if you’re non-exempt, you’d need to get paid for that time.)

That said, it’s perfectly reasonable to say something like, “I have commitments on the weekend that are pretty inflexible. Would it be possible to schedule this for during the week instead?” But it’s possible that the answer to that will be no (because of scheduling reasons or other considerations). If that’s the case, in some offices you could ask about taking a comp day on Monday, but in others that would come across as tone-deaf, so you have to know your office culture for that one. (I’m not defending that — I think you should get the comp day — just noting that it’s the reality.)

2. My secretary stopped talking to me after she found out I’m queer

I’m a queer woman working in a small office (four employees, including myself). As a general rule, none of us talk about our personal lives in detail at work so, while everyone knows I’m in a relationship, that’s all they know (to be clear, I’m not hiding the fact that I’m dating another woman, I just don’t feel the need to go into detail about my personal life at work).

About a month ago, my secretary happened to see a text message from my girlfriend that was very clearly from a romantic partner and not just a friend (nothing explicit, just that she was excited for our date that night, an “I love you,” and a heart emoji) and, since she has a very typically feminine name, it was also clearly from another woman. My secretary didn’t say anything about the sender, just asked a few questions about where I was going on my date. However, since then, she hasn’t actually spoken to me. She still schedules appointments, makes calls for me, and performs her other duties, but she does it all without talking to me. I’m sure that the other two people in the office have noticed that she has stopped talking to me except when absolutely necessary, and I want to address the situation – I just don’t know how.

You can’t have a secretary who refuses to speak with you. She can have whatever private opinions of your sexual orientation that she wants, but the way she behaves in your office is very much your business, and it’s not okay for her to freeze you out.

I’d sit down with her and say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve barely spoken to me in the last month. Is everything okay?” Who knows — maybe the timing is a coincidence and she’s actually been quiet because she’s going through something rough that you don’t know about, so give her the chance to explain. But assuming you don’t hear anything that changes your perspective, it would be fine to say, “This is the type of job that does require us to be able to work together comfortably. If I’ve done something that’s getting in the way of that, I’d want to know so that we can resolve it. But this isn’t the sort of job where we’ll be productive together without speaking. I’m hoping we can return to the comfort level we seemed to have previously. If you can’t do that, we’ll need to talk about it and figure out where to go from here.” (You said “my secretary,” so I’m assuming you have authority over her. You can use it here. And for the record, you can — and generally should — fire an assistant who refuses to speak to you.)

If you want to, you can call out that the problem seemed to start right after she saw the text message, but you could also do it without getting into that if you wanted. And if others in the office are senior to her, I’d also consider looping them in about what’s going on (assuming you’re living somewhere where that’s not likely to cause Issues for you).

3. Our board president sucks, but we’re stuck with her until the next election

I work on a volunteer executive board for a local political organization. Obviously, it’s a situation where volunteers have a high degree of passion for the cause.

The problem is that the president of the board is horrible. She does all kinds of things, but never loops anyone else in. She plans all sorts of events that never happen and is often scheduling and then cancelling meetings. She doesn’t take anyone’s schedule into account other than her own. She complains that she’s working too hard and it’s making her ill and she wants to delegate, but we’re not sure she even understands what that word means because she won’t let go of even the tiniest iota of control. She’s extremely rude and regularly takes people’s heads off when they do absolutely anything to help the riding, especially the vice president. The VP is supposed to be her partner, but instead she is constantly working to undermine her and push her down.

Because this is an elected organization, we can’t remove her as president until our annual election, which isn’t until late this year. Similarly, she can’t remove the vice president. Pretty much everyone else loves the VP and is hoping to vote her in as the president at the next election … but we’re stuck with the current situation until then.

So, then. When your boss sucks and isn’t going to change, but NO ONE can be fired, what can you do? We are trying to save this before the entire organization quits just to get away from this extremely toxic president, because we don’t want to tank the political cause over internal drama.

Take a look at your bylaws. They should lay out what power the other board members have to remove the board president. If you the power to do it, consider it. It will be a lot of drama, but it sounds like there’s plenty of drama already; this would just be more productive drama, and toward a useful outcome.

Alternately, you and the other board members could intervene with the president and insist on specific changes (for example, full board or committee approval is required for X and Y; procedures that must be followed to schedule or cancel meetings; projects X and Y will be transferred to other people; etc.) — as well as telling her that it’s not okay for her to treat people the way she does. Ultimately, though, this will come down to how assertive you and the other board members are willing to be here. As board members, you do have power here and as a group you can insist on some change … but it may take more backbone than people have the stomach for (what a weird mixed metaphor).

Read an update to this letter here.

4. How important are LinkedIn endorsements?

How important are LinkedIn endorsements to a recruiter? I always kind of thought they were BS, a popularity contest of sorts where the number of endorsements you have is directly correlated to how many connections you have and how well you’re liked. The feature came out when I graduated from college, and shortly fellow graduates were endorsing each other for skills that they couldn’t have possibly gained enough experience in. Like if you knew 500 seniors in college and connected with them, suddenly you had a wealth of endorsements. It was at that moment I decided to turn the feature off and not allow people to endorse me on LinkedIn. I didn’t want to get involved.

Now that it’s been five years, I’m wondering if it’s something I should look into again. Has the feature improved at all? I’ve read a couple articles from legitimate sources that say the endorsement feature is important for profile views and search results. I’m still skeptical though that a decent recruiter would take these seriously, it just seems so biased to me. Am I hurting myself by not allowing endorsements?

Nah, they’re still BS. Anyone can endorse you for anything, and no one takes them seriously. You can leave them turned off.

{ 602 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    #1 I would only push back if you have some capital. If you’re new or very junior, it won’t come off as well. (Not that I think retreats should take up a weekend day!)

    1. LouiseM*

      Agreed, even though it really grinds my gears to have to come to work on the weekend.

    2. MLB*

      I honestly wouldn’t push back at all. It’s part of the job and if it’s infrequent, you just suck it up and go. I’ve had to go on business trips, and I’m not always travelling during my normal work hours. I’ve had to go to team dinners when I was tired and just wanted to go home and put on my jammies. I’ve had to attend work events and participate in team building activities when I didn’t want to spend more time than necessary with my co-workers. In the professional world, you will likely have to attend things with your colleagues even if you don’t want to.

      1. Samiratou*

        Agreed. Assuming it’s one weekend a year or something (and most companies I know wouldn’t pay for something like that annually, let alone more often!), I would tend to suck it up. Losing one weekend day on an infrequent basis won’t lead to burnout, unless there are other things going on with the job and it intrudes on your time in other ways. But if you like your job and your company in general, and you don’t have pressing commitments, it’s not worth burning capital on.

        Now, if they have these things monthly or even quarterly, that’s a different story and I’d be more likely to bring up other options.

      2. Wirving*

        I know this isn’t OP’s case, but what if you work a rather inflexible second job on the weekend?

        1. Eye of Sauron*

          I think this becomes the point where you have to place a higher priority on one job vs. another. It sucks (and I’ve been there) but it has to be done at some point.

          1. OhNo*

            Agreed. Having been in this situation for the past several years, at some point you do just have to decide which job means more to you and make that one work. Unless you have a particularly understanding boss who will let you out early to go to your other job at a reasonable time, you’re probably going to end up setting a firm limit at some point.

      3. Dawson*

        +1 The LW isn’t special – EVERYONE wants two days to recharge and accomplish stuff that doesn’t involve work. Unless, as Alison points out, your company often plans team building (or other) events that fall over into days off, this is just one of those things you suck up occasionally and do.

        1. earl grey aficionado*

          Not trying to “not everyone can have sandwiches” here, but the reason I struggle so much with weekend work commitments is that I have a pain- and fatigue-causing disability that makes the two days to recharge a MUST. I have no idea if that’s the OP’s situation, but I’m curious for my own sake if people have opinions/experience around asking for comp days or other accommodations for weekend commitments when your reason for needing that rest is disability-related or otherwise medically advised.

          1. Anion*

            If that was the case for me, I’d definitely be explaining the situation and asking for a comp day or if some other arrangement could be made. And afaik they’d have to give it to you, since it’s a “reasonable accommodation,” but IANAL or expert so don’t take my word for it.

            But as far as my thoughts go, I’d think that given your situation, asking would be seen in a much different, much more “acceptable,” light than someone just asking because they really like having two days off. (Not that I don’t understand that as well, and agree.)

            1. Jayn*

              It could also be a mental health type thing, which is harder to push back with (especially if LW 1 isn’t diagnosed with anything or otherwise doesn’t want to out herself). “I need a break or I’ll be in too much pain to function” is easier to push back with than “I need a break or I’ll mentally fall apart”. You’re ‘supposed’ to just willpower your way through the latter.

              1. Wicked Odd*

                In my experience, you’re supposed to power through the former, as well. (Especially if the cause of your pain isn’t visible, but even then.)

          2. myswtghst*

            While I’m not disabled, I did do a lot of traveling that included weekends and time zone changes in a previous job, and I always tried to weigh all the factors and approach my boss with a couple of ideas as far in advance as I could. So, I was more likely to ask for accommodations when I was giving up a significant portion of my weekend and crossing multiple time zones than I was if I got home Friday night from a destination in my home time zone. Also, I usually talked through options with my boss, like if it made sense to take the day off (I usually offered to take PTO but hoped for a comp day), to work from home, or to just work a partial day with a late start.

            It’s definitely a know-your-culture and know-your-boss situation, but I always approached it as “how can I make sure business needs are being met while making sure I’m as effective as possible” and typically got good results. In a situation with a less understanding boss, I might be a little more direct about what I needed, but I’d still try to come prepared with options.

      4. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

        Agree! I spent last Saturday flying home from a conference (west coast to east coast, so I didn’t get home until 11:30pm). On Monday morning, I woke up and went to work at the normal time. It never occurred to me that I would do anything differently. Sometimes work is inconvenient. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.

        1. ehhh*

          It’s cool you can do that. but there are people who have other commitments, disabilities, and such that make that not possible.

          Times where I have had to forgo my downtime has lead to me being out of sorts for a week+. what about single parents who have to arrange over-night care for their children?

      5. Artemesia*

        Heck I did this 50 years ago as a high school teacher; we got no time off of teaching for our departmental retreat and I was making about $5000 a year which was not much even then. I think this sort of thing is just part of most professional jobs just like working in the evening when necessary.

      6. Oxford Comma*

        Agreed. If this was a regular thing, I can see trying to push back, but it sounds like it’s a one off. I’ve got a colleague who 100% refuses to do anything that is not part of the 8:30-5 M-F work week. We’re salaried and this person is perceived as being inflexible and uncooperative.

        I understand it’s annoying that it’s scheduled on the weekend, but burn out isn’t really going to fly as a reason not to go.

        1. myswtghst*

          I tend to agree. Depending on the culture, I might try to work with my boss on working from home or working a short day (come in late or leave early) on the Thursday before or Monday after, but I probably wouldn’t kick up a fuss for a one-time event unless it conflicted with a prior commitment I couldn’t move.

      7. Sketchee*

        It’s reasonable to have a discussion and try to understand their point of view. And to share your own. Like most work problems discussed on this blog, there’s usually room for discussion.

        Rather than thinking there’s either major pushback or complete submission, the middle ground is usually the answer.

        If there’s anything I’ve learned from this website, it’s that speaking up about concerns is a good thing. And at a functional workplace, those discussions will be encouraged and not a big deal. That has really helped understand why the best companies were so easy to work with and other’s weren’t.

        I can think of workplaces where we’d definitely have this discussion. I was more willing to trade in very occassional weekend time. My managers then shared the practical reasons. They didn’t realize I was not aware of. Talking to them doesn’t have to be “pushing back”

        1. Oxford Comma*

          I would say that’s fine, but for the LW to avoid using the expression “burn out” which usually is equated with consistent overwork/consistent stress, etc. And to be prepared to be told, particularly if the LW is salaried, that this is expected.

          You just want to avoid being that person who won’t ever budge.

      8. Stranger than fiction*

        Right. My bf has that kind of job. Their customer base is higher ed most of their conferences are over three day holiday weekends. Not to mention his position often requires weekend and night work anyway ( at least that can be done from home). Im fact he’s on a train right now for a company “retreat “, followed by a conference mon-wed in the same city

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      This. Working without a 2 day weekend frequently will certainly lead to burn out. Doing it once for a work retreat is one of those things you are just expected to do. Also, in the employer’s eyes, the retreat is probably “fun” and “relaxing” and totally different from doing work so needing a break from a retreat might seem odd.

      For what it’s worth, my husband is like you. He really needs his downtime and usually takes a vacation day after work travel to regroup. Making small talk really wears on him. But, he doesn’t ask his employer for a replacement day off. He uses his paid time off. Most people just go right back to work.

    4. Oxford Coma*

      It’s SO frustrating when work bleeds over like this, so I get where LW is coming from. I care for an ailing parent, and I would be scrambling terribly for a weekend work event. I would end up owing major favors to get coverage at home.

      1. AKchic*

        I know that feeling. Before my grandma went into assisted living, we rotated care for her. I was the one who went over nightly to get her to bed and was also the one who went back over to get her up in the morning and went over to make sure she had lunch and got her to the bathroom on the weekends (my cousin stayed with her on the weekdays, my uncle lived with her and had night duty, and she refused to call my mother who lived closer). I arranged for different care for two weekends so I could participate in my local renaissance fair (something I have been doing for years). My grandma would still call me 10 minutes before anyone was scheduled to show up because nobody was there yet (because it wasn’t even their time yet) to try to guilt trip me into getting out of costume and rush over to handle the care as usually scheduled.
        She ended up getting vindictive about the whole thing and I got hurt because of it. Since there were only a limited number of relatives who she’d allow to take care of her, and only one who technically was physically capable of doing so (my cousin), she ended up going into assisted living. She’s been there 6 months and it has been a blessing for everyone.

      2. RB*

        I think it’s always good to have excuses at the ready, whether they’re true or not. Helping someone move, babysitting my niece, helping my mom get over a sprained ankle, pre-planned weekend away, etc.. My weekends are pretty exclusively Me time and it would have to be something that only happens once a year for me to go to a work retreat on a Saturday, if that.

    5. Stone Cold Bitch*

      If it’s work then your company should plan it during normal working hours. If it’s not work then it should not be compulsory.

      I have worked on a handful of Saturdays in the last decade and I was compensated either with overtime or a comp day.

      1. Robm*

        I. Glad to see someone say this here. It seems to be acceptable to just give up your time off to the great god of work very easily in some circles (is it an American thing?). I’m senior, salaried, and work in education (all reasons I’ve seen given in this thread as to why giving up weekends is ok somehow) and it’s extremely rare indeed for me or any of my team to work weekends.

        And that’s how it should be. I love my job but I work to live, I don’t live to work.

  2. KarenT*

    #5 Those endorsements are getting worse. I keep getting endorsed for skills I don’t have and from people I don’t know professionally. Sometimes when I log into linkedin it asks me to endorse some of my contacts for skills that LinkedIn suggests. I’m not sure how that populates.

    1. MillersSpring*

      I hate it when sales reps who are trying to connect with me endorse me out of the blue.

      1. Kix*

        A colleague’s mother connected with me on LinkedIn, and I figured out very quickly that her attempts to befriend me were a precursor to try and sell me life insurance. Ugh.

    2. Artemesia*

      A cousin I have not seen in 30 years endorsed me for a bunch of skills that I might plausibly have but she sure doesn’t know; she is in a prestigious position in a field related to mine.

    3. Naomi*

      I stopped taking LinkedIn endorsements seriously when I started to get them from relatives. My aunt means well, but she has no firsthand knowledge of my proficiency in Python.

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        Yeah, my mom has endorsed me on LinkedIn for like every skill I have listed. She doesn’t do Facebook or Twitter, and she doesn’t even know what Instagram is, but she’s a beast on LinkedIn with like 500 connections. Luckily we have different last names.

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        “Oh, Naomi was always so good with animals, I’ll bet she’s great at this!”

      3. essEss*

        Same here. My next door neighbor suddenly put some endorsements on my Linked in page for some of my skills. My neighbor doesn’t have the slightest idea what I do for a living.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I thought one of the minor amusements of LinkedIn was to discover that, say, based on buying industrial quantities of paint from Fergus he’s endorsed you for C++ and cake decorating.

      1. Llamarama (Ding Dong)*

        LinkedIn once asked if I wanted to endorse my brother for military experience and something related to top secret clearance. Since I didn’t really have a feel for either of those, I endorsed him for cake decorating (knowing that LI asks for approval before posting to your profile). In turn, he endorsed me for animal husbandry, bird watching, snakes, and squirrels. I work in tech.

        At least we entertain each other.

    5. Not in US*

      I didn’t know you could turn it off. How? I just looked and I’m not seeing it but I’m not done my coffee yet so there’s that…if someone would be so kind as to enlighten me I would appreciate it!

      1. Kate*

        I just learned this too! If you go to your profile, and click the little pencil next to skills, it will open a pop up with your list. Then click “Adjust Endorsement Settings”, and the first option is “I want to be endorsed”. Just switch that to “No”.

        1. Kivrin*

          It looks like you can turn off getting new endorsements, but you can’t get rid of the ones you have. Is that right?

    6. Samiratou*

      I know endorsements suck, but what about recommendations? The ones where people actually write something about you. Do recruiters look at those?

      1. Kyrielle*

        IMX yes! I’m in tech. Because you curate them, they’re not hugely valuable – obviously no one will say anything in them that you don’t want them to, because you could just not display those. But if they’re positive enough, they can make it a bit more likely for a recruiter to reach out to you and/or for you to get an interview. (As far as I know, that’s about all they might influence.)

        1. Mildred*

          I didn’t realize (or forgot) that you can curate recommendations. I have been pleasantly surprised with the very nice things people have said about my work.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Me too! I’ve never denied one. But you have to authorize each one to display, so that impacts both what people will say and what will be visible. (There’s really no point in putting anything negative in recommendations, it just won’t end up on display, so people either say only the positive or don’t say anything at all.)

      2. Specialk9*

        I had this same question. I thought that’s what the question was about at first. I actually do look at LinkedIn recommendations (not endorsement tags, but written kudos for that person) for people when filling a job — a coworker sharing something that person did well helps form a better picture in my mind.

        Personally, I have written at least 150 thoughtful LinkedIn recommendations, especially if someone is job searching. (I use present tense if their profile still says the current job – easier to get a job with a job.) I figure it’s a great way to write a thank-you note to someone who helped me with something or all around goes above and beyond, and it is convenient to re-read, and it can help them get a job.

        That’s my opinion at least.

    7. many bells down*

      Most of my contacts on Linkedin are friends who work in a totally different industry than I do. Fully half my “endorsements” were for things I’d never done, but they thought I might be good at because they like me, I guess?

    8. Turquoisecow*

      I feel like 80% of LinkedIn is kind of BS. I have numerous “connections” with people I don’t even know, and I don’t think it does anyone any good. I tend to log on about once every six months, and I used to just accept all the connections offered, because whatever, but now I’m wondering what’s the point?

      It seems to be more of a way to keep up with former coworkers and maybe classmates, but a few people I know haven’t updated their place of employment in five years or more, so it doesn’t even work for that.

      Maybe there are people/industries where it’s a useful tool, but I’m not seeing it.

        1. Jaydee*

          I’m on it but only because I needed an account to find out what the job posting/searching feature was like for a project at work. I post nothing, have no connections, and am routinely surprised when I go to click on a LinkedIn link on my work computer and it auto logs me in! So I’m not really *on* it.

        2. Been There, Done That*

          You’re smart. When I was job hunting in a new city during the great recession, I took job search coaching classes. The facilitator was amazing and she got everyone on Linkedin. It never helped me a darned bit–but it was shiny and new and in that tech-centered location, everyone talked about social media in reverent hushed tones as the second coming of Poindexter the Great.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve only used it when I was job-hunting. It seemed difficult to use – I couldn’t even send a message to anyone without a paid “upgrade”. The only reason I even bothered with it was in the hope it would help me find a job.
        I connected with a few business acquaintences I didn’t know well and now I don’t remember who they are… Now I only log in if someone I know and would recommend to a job tries to connect with me. My responsibilities at my job have increased and I suppose I should update LinkedIn, but it’s a very low priority – especially since it will probably be difficult. :p
        2 or 3 years ago I was getting LinkedIn messages from someone in Asia I don’t know. I think he was trying to connect with the only other person of my name, who lives in Europe. I wasn’t able to reply and tell him he had the wrong person – maybe if I paid, but I’m not doing that. LinkedIn sucks.

    9. Stinky Socks*

      A bunch of my friends thought it would be funny to endorse my bartending skills. I am not quite a teetotaler, but close…

    10. Stranger than fiction*

      I really don’t have that problem thankfully. I only get endorsements from people I know, and usually they’re right on. Only occasionally do I get something slightly off and I just say to myself they clearly don’t remember what I did when we worked together. And in turn, I only ever give them for people who i know what they excel at and I know they’re hob searching. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time LI prompted me about them.

    11. myswtghst*

      “Sometimes when I log into linkedin it asks me to endorse some of my contacts for skills that LinkedIn suggests.”

      I get this too, and I’m guessing it’s why I get so many endorsements from people I barely know – they see the pop up and just click “yes” to be nice, or in hopes I’ll endorse them back, or whatever.

    12. SusanIvanova*

      Long, long ago, I wasn’t just a Teapot expert, I worked at the company that invented Teapots. But I did the decorations on delicate china cups, and these days it’s all about the massive tea servers. So, after getting fed up with recruiters for server jobs, I found the “remove endorsement” page and dropped it.

      Then, while I was complaining about it with co-workers on irc, up pops *another* endorsement for Teapots. From a co-worker. No, he wasn’t pranking me, he wasn’t even on irc, he just noticed that I didn’t have Teapot on there and of course since I was there in the early days that was a terrible oversight.

  3. Searcher*

    I have heard that the endorsements are important because the algorithm that displays search results takes them into account. You’ll be higher if you have more endorsements.

    1. KarenT*

      Interesting! Maybe that’s why I keep getting job postings that are not suitable for me–I keep getting endorsed for skills I don’t have/don’t want to use.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah, I get those too. It’s more to do with my title bringing in a broad range of things. In fact you just reminded me I was going to ask the open thread about changing my title. Brb

    2. Triple Anon*

      Grr, that is so annoying. Mostly because a lot of irrelevant factors come into play with how many endorsements you get. I’m glad I left LinkedIn!

    3. KR*

      That seems likely to me. I have a lot of customer service endorsements for whatever reason so I keep getting customer service or sales jobs recommended to me. No thank you, LinkedIn.

    4. T3k*

      That would explain why I’m still getting Y-related jobs even after I switched to a different field last year. Annoying (in other news, I didn’t realize they could be turned off).

    5. Mookie*

      While that may make sense for LinkedIn’s bottom line, the existence of that algorithm puts paid to its usefulness to hiring managers and applicants alike. If you can beat the system by teaming up with people to trade endorsements to place yourselves higher in the search results, the system does not work and should be collectively killed off by abstaining to use it altogether. I don’t really see how the endorsement functions otherwise, given that most people already recognize the important distinction between an endorsement (rarely helpful when screening candidates) and an actual, solicited reference.

      1. Penny Lane*

        I don’t know a single person who takes a LinkedIn endorsement seriously. Now the written comment references … you can take those a *little* seriously because someone had to actually write something about how they worked with you … even so, everyone can find someone who can say something good about them, so it’s still only a minor reference in the scheme of things.

        A board I am on just let go someone who didn’t work out for the organization — and a colleague said “the guy described in the LinkedIn references is the guy I wished we’d hired.”

    6. eplawyer*

      If you want to sign up for Professional Services referrals, you have to have recommendations and endorsements. I told them I wasn’t wasting on my time on getting endorsed for incredibly basic skills that every lawyer should have. So LinkedIn is trying really really really hard to make this a thing to justify having them.

    7. Formerly Arlington*

      This is the only reason why they are useful. They really do help with search, as does that section where you list out your skills. It’s tough to do well on organic search in LI now that so many people are promoting.

  4. Glenn*

    My old boss, an engineering manager, is endorsed for the following things (with his full approval, he thinks it’s hilarious): Ninja Skills, Nuclear Proliferation, TV series, Wine Tasting, Yak Shaving, Abstract Expressionism, Sauces, Pork, Retaining Walls, Third World Driving, Rhinoceros.

    And, of course, “Getting LinkedIn Skills Endorsements”, for which he is endorsed 34 times.

    Curiously, although LinkedIn has classified most of the above as “Other Skills”, apparently Wine Tasting falls under Industry Knowledge. Who knew?

    1. Junior Dev*

      I once interviewed at a company that had job titles like “cat herder” and “reverse engineer.” He’d fit right in.

      1. Len F*

        Well, “reverse engineering” is actually a thing, though. It’s taking apart/analysing a particular tool or product or whatever in order to write a specification for how it works. It’s so that you can then develop your own competing copy of it that works the same way, or so that you can develop some tool or product that works with that thing, without being in the legal difficulty of actually having stolen their IP.

        Say there was a very expensive coffee machine on the market, using coffee pods. You want to sell a much cheaper version, which still works with your competitor’s coffee pods. You might approach this by buying one of your competitor’s coffee machines, taking it apart and looking at how all the bits work together, exactly what happens when it makes coffee, how much water at what temperature and pressure, carefully measuring the volume and shape of the pods, etc, until you come up with engineering blueprints for how this coffee machine could be built.

        They aren’t the blueprints your competitor actually used, you didn’t heist them from their R&D Mission Impossible style or bribe one of their technicians, you legitimately figured out the specs for yourself. Instead of engineering a coffee machine from blueprints, you reverse engineered the blueprints from the coffee machine. And, depending on where you are in the world, you’re not legally infringing on your competitor’s intellectual property since you developed the blueprints yourself.

          1. Mookie*

            Yeah! I’d be awful at it, but it’s a field that holds endless interest for me, plus it sounds fun.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            I actually do quite a bit of this. It’s fun, but it’s more fun to invent your own stuff.

          3. Grapey*

            If you live near any MakerSpaces, those are good forums for learning how to use machines (laser cutter, 3D printer, random woodshop tools) which would help you with such a goal!

          4. BeautifulVoid*

            It’s also a surefire way to cause drama in crafting groups. (I guess it kind of falls under the larger umbrella of what has been lovingly dubbed “copyright wank”.) Because there are absolutely people out there who think they’re so brilliant that they are the only one who has ever thought of manipulating yarn in a certain way, and therefore, anyone who wants to learn how to manipulate yarn in the same way should pay $X to do so, and anyone who claims that they were able to reverse engineer a stitch/technique/whatever from a picture is a LIAR and a THIEF.

            I didn’t follow the whole saga, but I’m pretty sure there was a shining example of this regarding…wait for it…a sock heel.

            1. Nanani*

              This is why patent law exists. Wankers should consult an actual IP attorney before shooting their mouths off. Patent examiners can be -delightfully- snarky.

              1. Teal Green*

                I would guess the “Fish Lips Kiss Heel.” Many of the enthusiasts of the heel remind me of stereotypical Cross-Fit evangelists.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          Which is why export regulations on certain products are so important in certain industries, and why we won’t sell F22s outside of the US even to our allies.

        2. Pebbles*

          Yep, this is a great description! I have the title of software engineer but this is one of my skills/job duties.

        3. Jaydee*

          I want to go to there! Why did no one ever tell high school me that “reverse engineering” was a thing?

      2. KL*

        Cat-herding is totally I think. I know because a previous boss wrote on my yearly evaluation that I had become a professional at it. Of course, trying to get 10+ professors and the like in the same place at the same time takes talent. :P

        1. an infinite number of monkeys*

          My expression for this sort of thing is “nailing eels to a plate of Jell-o.” But cat-herding sounds less gross.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            A saying I used to see in the 90’s: “Managing senior programmers is like herding cats”
            So is managing physicians.

            1. whingedrinking*

              When I was still seriously part of it, this was a major issue in the atheo-skeptic community. Basically you bring together a bunch of people with the shared trait of questioning orthodoxy and then try to organize them, and wonder why so many people get burnt out.

        2. Chameleon*

          From my grad school days, it was pretty impossible to get more than 2 professors in the same place at the same time, so my hat off to you!

        3. The Wonder Cootie*

          I, too, have faculty to deal with. I usually describe my job as herding cats on crack, but have also described myself as a professional juggler.

          1. Jaydee*

            “Professional juggler? Like you juggle so well people pay you for it?”

            “No, I juggle professionals. But I *am* good at it. Maybe I should call myself a professional professional juggler.”

          1. margarita mama*

            Hahaha, in my interview with the department Chair he actually commented that my preschool teaching should come in handy…

      3. Trig*

        Ugh someone got the “gotta be edgy” memo at the Canadian government recruitment department recently. All the positions are for “gurus”, “ninjas”, and “yodas”. It’s the worst. They’re trying to be young and hip and appeal to startup culture millenials, but, like, come ON. You’re the government. You’re not fooling anyone and you just look silly. People apply to you for the golden handcuffs of great benefits and a pension, not a fast-paced agile workplace with silly names and beer fridges. (The silly names are the only accurate thing in that statement about the workplace.)

        1. Anonygoose*

          I think I saw one of those postings! I kept thinking how weirdly tone-deaf it was for a government job.

        2. a name*

          I lived in the Bay Area for awhile and every industry was using that terminology.

          I used it as a way to weed out employers who had no concept of boundaries or basic labor laws, because most of them were asking for “ninjas/rock stars/Sherpas/evangelists” and if you read the job description it was for someone whose job included admin duties, marketing duties, accounting duties, and Mom duties (cleaning up after people, running personal errands like laundry, organizing playdates, catering) on top of a 70+ hour work week.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            When I was job-hunting it was clear ads that started with “ROCK STAR WANTED” were very unstable and dysfunctional places looking for a workaholic savior.

      4. Another GenX Dev Manager*

        It’s not on my business cards, but I often introduce myself as a professional CATS herder – because that’s the name of my project. And it is a lot like herding the feline variety.

      5. Kriss*

        “cat herder” & “cat wrangler” are my unofficial titles at work.

        one of my duties: I have to know where everyone is on the jobsite & acquire them on demand when needed

    2. Turtle Candle*

      I sort of love that it’s Rhinoceros. Not Rhinoceros Handling or Rhinoceros Herding or Rhinoceros Care, just… my skill is Rhinoceros.

      1. Mookie*

        Has a very Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo sort of vibe to it. Other people may Rhinocero from time to time in an amateur sort of fashion but your man here doubles his pleasure and goes balls-out Rhinoceros.

      2. DS*

        I laughed at this coming up in the list because it is a skill that I also have. I’m also an “Authorized Rhino Trainer.” Most of the people in my engineering field are familiar with this being the 3D modeling software Rhino (aka Rhino 3D or Rhinoceros) by McNeel.

    3. attie*

      Brb asking my boyfriend to endorse me for Yak Shaving.

      (For those unfamiliar with programmer lingo, Yak Shaving is when you end up at the end of a long chain of tasks that depend on each other. You want to wash your car, but you need to buy a new garden hose and the store is after a bridge, so you need to borrow your neighbor’s toll badge cause you can’t find yours, but your neighbor really wants his yak hair pillow back, but your cat got into it and now there’s some stuffing missing, and that’s why you are at the zoo at 3pm on a saturday afternoon shaving a yak just so you can wash your car. And it’s approximately how both our weeks have been going.)

      1. Matt*

        This reminds me of a famous German poem/song “Das Loch im Eimer / in der Kanne” (The hole in the bucket / can) which goes like this: there’s a hole in the bucket, you need to stuff it with straw, the straw is too long, so you have to cut it, how do you cut it – with an axe, but the axe is dull, so you need to sharpen it, how do you sharpen it – with a stone, but the stone is too dry, so you have to water it; how do you fetch the water – with a bucket/can … but there’s a hole in the bucket and therefore the loop is closed ;-)

        1. JamieS*

          Why wouldn’t someone just take the stone and axe to the water source, wet the stone there thus eliminating the need to transport water in the bucket, and then sharpen the axe?

          1. Myrin*

            It’s a folk song of the “Kettenlied”/”chain song” variety sung for fun; logical problem-solving steps don’t really play a role in this.

              1. Kriss*

                they would use straw & tar/pitch to make a waterproof patch for the bucket. something similar to what they would use for straw roofs.

                (“there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
                well then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry. Then fix it, dear Henry, fix the hole.”
                I always had the impression that Henry was lazy & was trying to get out of sharpening that knife.)

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              You get points for adding more steps, in fact. It’s the Rube Goldberg device from the days of oral history.

              And there’s an American version, which I shall no doubt have stuck in my head for the rest of the morning. And I have a conference call…

          2. Kate R. Pillar*

            I was always picturing a deep well as the water source that you need a bucket to dip into.

          3. Kate 2*

            Water source might be a well. Can’t really reach water with just your arms, it’s usually too far down.

        2. dragonzflame*

          We have that one in English too: ‘there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza’

          1. Matt*

            The version I know was kind of a smash hit in the 1980s, with “Rainhard”/”Reinhard” – Reinhard Mey, a German singer, and Rainhard Fendrich, an Austrian singer, teaming up for this performance. Don’t know how many times I saw this on TV while playing as a little boy. (And interesting how the brain holds on to silly lyrics like this for decades while forgetting what was in yesterday’s job training …)

          2. only acting normal*

            I’ve always loved that song since I was a kid. Although, poor Liza – talk about having to bear an unfair share of the mental load! :D

            1. Jules the Third*

              My mom sang this to me when I was a child, and did not fail to point out the gender politics at play.

              I love my mom.

            2. Kate R. Pillar*

              Interestingly, the gender roles are most often reversed in the German version (though there is debate on whether it is Liese and Heinrich or Liese and Karl-Otto – or even Karl-Otto and Henry).
              Considering that in the reversed version, Liese comes off as pretty helpless and stupid, there is no way to do it right ;)

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Yep. One person’s an idiot and one person is having to think for two — no one wins.

            3. Nobby Nobbs*

              I had a bit of a revelation earlier this year when I realized Henry was probably just playing helpless in an attempt to get Liza to fix his bucket for him!

        3. Miss Betty*

          “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza, dear Eliza, there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza, a hole.” There’s an English version too. At least it’s a vaguely funny earworm! I might have to sing it now to get rid of it.

      2. JamieS*

        I’m disappointed the skill doesn’t literally mean you’re skilled at grooming yaks.

          1. General Ginger*

            If you didn’t bring a hole-in-the-wall to the labyrinth, you can’t defeat the minotaur. Clearly.

            1. BeautifulVoid*

              That’s not even the worst one from that game. I present:

              There is a genie.
              Even though the genie has been following you around and trying to kill you for the whole game, you figure the genie’s not a bad guy, he just has a bad master.
              You want to control the genie.
              To control a genie, you must have the genie’s lamp.
              There is a peddler outside selling a variety of lamps.
              All the lamps look wildly different, so you must find out which one most closely resembles the genie’s lamp if you want to control the genie.

              So clearly, the most logical and obvious solution to this conundrum is to go into a pawn shop where the genie-in-disguise is lurking, pull out a vial labeled “Drink Me”, loudly announce your anguish and despair, pretend to commit suicide by drinking the contents, and wait for the genie to report back to his master…so the player can watch a cut scene where the genie disappears into a bottle, completely breaking the fourth wall. (Not to be confused with the aforementioned hole-in-the-wall, who was actually kind of cute and cuddly.)

              As a whole, KQVI’s puzzles were sliiiiiiiiiiiightly more logical than those of its immediate predecessor, but not by much.

              1. General Ginger*

                Yes. The part where you can only figure out which lamp it is via metagaming is absolutely grand. As is the part where you need to have a DIFFERENT lamp first, so you can cast an incomplete spell that will only trigger once you’re about to be burned alive.

                KQ games were the best.

      3. oviraptor*

        So you should ask the neighbor on your other side if you can borrow his garden hose. Crisis averted!

        Unless…he wants his yak shears back. But you still need them to get the yak hair for the pillow. Dang! Back to the zoo.

        Unless the neighbor across the street has a garden hose… :)

    4. Anonygoose*

      I worked as a Scotch Whisky Tour Guide – whisky tasting was actually a skill they trained us on, and I definitely have a ‘whisky’ endorsement on Linkedin somewhere :)

    5. Nita*

      Wine tasting is totally industry knowledge! It’s a very useful skill for someone in the wine distribution industry. I know someone who does this. Just listening to them talk about the wine is amazing, and coming to a party where they picked the wine is always fascinating :)

      Also I love that list. Somehow having Retaining Walls in there just cracks me up.

      1. grace*

        Yep, my boyfriend manages the wine program at a restaurant, and he can go on forever about the different notes in a glass of wine. Maybe I’ll endorse him for that on LinkedIn now. ;)

    6. anycat*

      some of mine that are still pending almost 5 years later because i won’t approve them: magic, lubricants, r&b, karaoke, and i think juggling. i have done none of the above.

  5. Thlayli*

    OP3: I’ve been in volunteer organisations where the leaders have little to no management skills – it’s more common than you’d think, especially for start-up volunteer groups. Add in people’s personality conflicts and it’s often a recipe for disaster. At heart the problem is a lack of skill, which can be remedied With training.

    As Alison says the ideal solution is to remove the president, but if that is not an option, it might be worth thinking of ways to train her in the skills she needs.

    For example, next time she says she “wants to delegate”, you could send her links to articles on how to delegate effectively (there’s at least one on here). if you have the funds and can get the other board members to agree, you could arrange some training for her covering delegation (and other management skills). Or you could arrange for the entire leadership team to get some management training, even if it’s just a one-day seminar. If you have no funding for this you could put it together yourself and present it to the boss as a “teach-in”.

      1. Penny Lane*

        I am on a board where we had a problem similar to what you’re describing – a president who didn’t delegate and what’s worse, didn’t do a great job on areas where her board members actually had specialized expertise. We dealt with it by just grabbing the ball very assertively and saying, “Well, you certainly can’t do all of Task XYZ yourself, [president]! Why don’t we have Mary do X, Jane do Y, and I’ll do Z — and we’ll report back to the board on May 5.” Since this was preplanned, Mary and Jane vehemently agreed and the president had no choice but to acquiesce — and tasks XYZ were performed with a lot more skill (and collaboration too) than they would have normally been if the president had kept it all to herself.

        1. Super Anon Today*

          I love this, but the amount of work that had to go on behind the scenes in order to make that happen quickly must have been exhausting!

          1. Penny Lane*

            It was. A LOT of back and forth and a lot of emotional energy spent. The plus side is that she seemed to realize the error of her ways, and in a way that saved face.

        2. Mephyle*

          That sounds like some excellent managing up. Moreover, while sending her articles on delegating would have been less work, no doubt it wouldn’t have been nearly as effective (if at all).

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, do you’re bylaws have a recall provision? (Most orgs have a process for directors and officers to be removed by the rest of the Board.)

    Otherwise I’m very sorry you’re going through this. Absent confronting the President and having a Real Talk with her, it sounds like she won’t change :(

    1. Super Anon Today*

      If she’s as terrible to work with as OP describes, she might be one of those people that digs her heels in further when confronted about how she’s running things, and with nobody above her she may feel there’s nothing to stop her :( :(

  7. Myrin*

    OP #2, I really love Alison’s proposed wording here and would use it verbatim if I were you. I think it’s especially well-phrased because I like to approach situations like these at first as if there was an innocent reason for what’s happening – in this case, as if something happened in your your secretary’s personal life that made her more withdrawn and just coincided with her seeing your girlfriend’s text. Even if that’s not the case and she indeed doesn’t want to talk to her queer boss because she has a problem with that, it starts the conversation off on a friendlier approach that allows her to save face should she choose to. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this will be resolved peacefully!
    (I also want to say that I’m sorry you have to deal with that at all.)

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      The situation is very odd. Firstly that the secretary made conversation based on the text message she had just inadvertently seen — who does that? And secondly that the disclosure firstly led to increased conversation, about the date, but then to zero conversation. Let’s hope there’s another explanation.

      1. MicroManagered*

        This stuck out to me too.

        I work with some nibby noos who will do stuff like this–read over someone’s shoulder and ask about what they’ve seen, etc. I’ve found it very effective to close the window/turn the phone over in a very pointed way and say “Sorry about that. What did you need?” and not even engage them at all. In some cases, I’ve even said “Oh. Please don’t read over my shoulder.”

          1. Relly*

            Nosy people. A nib is someone who has to be involved in absolutely everything going on around them. One of my kitties delights in breaking valuables, upending trash cans, and sitting right in front of whatever screen you’re looking at, thus earning himself the nickname Nibsh!t.

      2. Mookie*

        That’s how I see it, as well. The LW says this office doesn’t delve into one another’s personal lives, so the secretary expressing a heightened level of interest in the particulars of the date feels a bit suspicious at the outset. It’s just about possible that the secretary’s immediate reaction and subsequent behavior is a result of feeling awkward having got caught looking at the LW’s phone, but it’s not clear from the letter how and in what context that happened. She may have had to go out of her way to look at the screen as MicroManagered describes above, or it may just have been placed somewhere near or in her eyeline.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          I read it as the secretary confirming what she had read by asking questions about the date.

      3. LBK*

        If being gay is something that’s highly morally objectionable to you, I can see why you’d want to inquire and confirm your understanding of the situation. If I caught wind of something that suggested a coworker was a white nationalist, I might probe a little more than I’d naturally be inclined to otherwise.

        (To be clear, I don’t think those things are equivalent, obviously – trying to draw a parallel from the perspective of someone who hates queer people so much that they’d refuse to speak to one.)

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            I do not take is as justifying the attitude of the secretary, but justifying why the secretary asked the questions. There is a difference.

          2. Specialk9*

            My take: they weren’t justifying, they were responding to the question upthread about why someone would talk more first, before going silent. That’s what they’re speculating, an answer to why they’d do that. As in, yeah, that behavior would fit in with homophobia, not exclude it.

        1. Mephyle*

          An explanation for an unjustified attitude isn’t the same thing as a justification.

      4. AfterBurner313*

        I worked with two people who would have no problems totally not talk to you based on that text.

        They considered LGBTQ life an abomination. Would do all the work required, with the least amount of conversation possible.

        Hopefully OP, the reason is not the above, because it can get ugly really fast.

    2. Penny Lane*

      I like this because it also treats the idea of “someone objects to me because I am in a same-sex relationship” as so bizarre, it wouldn’t even occur to the OP to think that that would be a reason someone wouldn’t talk to her.

      Think of the tonality as akin to this situation — Your secretary found out that you got your hair highlighted or wore contacts and now she won’t talk to you. Ridiculous, right? Keep that tonality in mind!

      It would be useful, however, to have some sub-scripts prepared in case she does blurt out, “Why, yes, I saw from your text message you are dating a woman and I object to that.” The script needs to be along the lines of “You can think what you want of my personal business, but it’s not your business and you are here to do a job, which involves talking / communicating with me. If you can’t do that, then this is not the place for you.”

      So sorry you have to deal with this nonsense in the year 2018. So sorry there are hellhole parts of the country where this is a Thing. It makes me embarrassed to be an American.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I like this comment a lot and agree that OP#2 should definitely avoid any hint of a suggestion that the secretary is avoiding her because she’s queer.

        1. Mookie*

          I agree. Whatever the secretary’s biases are, it’s up to her to manage them professionally and without disrupting other people. If she wants to broach that subject, let her do it and let her make an ass of herself. Either way, she needs to drop the silent treatment, because the silent treatment (and not the LW’s orientation) is the problem. Never, ever speaking to the LW again is not an acceptable or rational stratagem in the long-term, and at some point it’s going to muck something important up.

          1. CanCan*

            It’s also possible that the secretary is not doing that consciously. As in, she might have her personal objections to LW’s orientation, but she might not notice that she’s making that obvious to everybody else. If that is the case, the wording Alison suggested would nudge her into trying better at acting normal.

      2. MicroManagered*

        Not to derail–but OP2 never stated she was American. Homophobia exists all over the world. :)

      3. RVA Cat*

        I really hope the secretary doesn’t try to justify her unprofessional behavior with religion and claim discrimination.

        (Meanwhile the mandatory Friday-Saturday retreat in #1 may actually be discriminatory against Jews and Muslims….)

        1. Cube Ninja*

          Only if the employer refused to accommodate the employee upon request, though. Whether that’s moving the retreat or simply excusing them from all/part of it or something else isn’t terribly relevant, but simply having an event on a day that might conflict with a religious observation isn’t inherently discriminatory.

          1. SignalLost*

            Also, essentially impossible, given the proliferation of religions in a really diverse workforce.

            1. Observer*

              Actually, Friday through Sunday should cover it, in a general sense. I checked and it really does look like the most common religious traditions either have a special relationship, so to speak with Friday – Sunday, or don’t consecrate any given day of the week. (I checked on Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.)

              But, the key would be to be mindful of who is in your workforce and act accordingly. Which could mean that depending on the year, you might need to shift something like this around. Even if your workforce does not shift, most of the major religious traditions have sacred days that are not tied to the day of the week.

      4. ket*

        Yep, a little preparing of sub-scripts would be something that would make me feel a lot more comfortable about this conversation. Just to start the brainstorming, you’d want scripts that addressed: 1) her saying it’s something in her personal life; 2) her saying nothing (refusing to talk), and 3) her saying, “Actually, I object to homosexuality for religious reasons” or something like that, maybe her saying 4) Actually I had a huge crush on you and now I realize it won’t go anywhere. (Who knows?)
        Sometimes I’ve found myself so disarmed by someone continuing to avoid the conversation or by finding out it’s an entirely different problem that I’ve gotten sidetracked from being clear about the message.

        1. myswtghst*

          Without going to far into the weeds of truly unlikely possible outcomes, I definitely think it’s worth it for the OP to be prepared with general responses for a few of the most likely answers she’ll get from the secretary. In situations when I knew I’d be giving potentially uncomfortable feedback, I’ve made a point to practice (either on my own in the shower or while driving, or with a friend/coworker), so that I could sound relatively natural and unruffled regardless of the direction the conversation went.

          Being able to stay calm and professional, and to circle back around to “part of your job is to be able to communicate effectively and professionally with everyone in the office, can you do that going forward?” no matter where the conversation goes, would definitely be a lot easier for me with practice.

      5. all aboard the anon train*

        This is a Thing in a lot of other countries as well. I have a friend who faces a lot of homophobia at work in London, and a colleague my company’s Toronto office who gets bigoted comments on a pretty frequent basis.

        It’s not just an American problem. Just like other forms of bigotry don’t only happen in the US.

        1. Anion*

          I’d never in my life seen racism, sexism, and homophobia like I saw at my husband’s workplace in England. Like, people not only used the n-word, but thought it was hilarious and ridiculous that it upset my husband when they did so–and that was far from the worst of it.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            Definitely. Our London office has coworkers who routinely make cruel and bigoted comments and then complain about the PC police in the US. Our London office is SO racist towards our Indian and African offices and loves making comments about imperialism and colonialism.

            1. Anion*

              Sounds so familiar! *sad headshake*

              But it doesn’t mean that all Brits/Londoners are racist etc., any more than some racist etc. Americans mean all Americans are.

              1. Observer*

                I don’t think that the idea was that “all Brits are racist” but that trying to paint the US as uniquely racist (or bigoted in any way) is kind of silly.

      6. JennyFair*

        It would be super nice if it were a bizarre occurrence for someone to take offense at someone else’s sexuality. Unfortunately, it is so *not* bizarre, that I still experience a moment of panic every time words leave my mouth that might identify me as queer. And recent studies show that, in the US, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment is actually on the rise.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          Unfortunately, it is so *not* bizarre, that I still experience a moment of panic every time words leave my mouth that might identify me as queer.

          Absolutely. I’m bisexual and I’ve been on the receiving end of biphobia and bi-erasure and although I have no problems with my sexuality, there is people I know not to mention it around (including my boss and grandboss at my old job). It’s as you said a moment of panic. And it bloody sucks.

      7. JM60*

        “I like this because it also treats the idea of “someone objects to me because I am in a same-sex relationship” as so bizarre”

        Gay American here…

        It’s worth asking the secretary just in case her behavior changed for some other reason, but homophobia is common enough that this wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, always allow a space for the innocent explanation. Then you aren’t that boss getting mad that he’d ranted at a dead women on her parents’ answering machine while they were burying her.

    4. BadWolf*

      I was thinking the same, go in without any assumptions on why the silent treatment. Because it could be that the same day, OP2 said something that the admin thought was harsh and is now acting like this.

      Sometimes just pointing out, “Hey I noticed this” is enough to jostle someone free from how they’re acting. I know I had a remote coworker that I found pretty irritating and apparently it came through in my communication and he asked about it. We didn’t really discuss it other than I said our styles were dissimilar. Somehow him just acknowledging that I seemed annoyed was enough to make me feel less annoyed. Of course, this guy wasn’t a total jerk so no big need to dissect what was going on.

      1. Anion*

        Yes. For all we know, the secretary is gay, or suspects she might be, and is afraid she might get too personal or “give it away” if she talks to the LW, or is trying to get up the courage to ask about it/trying to figure out if there’s a way she can ask about it without being unprofessional and needy.

        I hope that’s the case, at least, or that it’s some other innocent explanation.

        1. Oxford Coma*

          This sort of thing was my first guess, naive as that may be. Maybe the secretary had a secret crush, assumed she had no shot and buried her feelings, and now found out the truth and has gone into an emotional tailspin.

              1. Anion*

                True, but there’s a difference between “No shot because she’s not gay/straight, sigh,” and “No shot because she’s already got somebody.” I don’t know why there is, but there is, at least there always has been for me.

    5. SometimesALurker*

      OP#2, I’m really sorry you’re even in the position of wondering if your secretary is being homophobic. I hope it turns out to be something more innocent, but it’s a shitty and draining thing to worry about.

      1. There All Is Aching*

        Loving all of these measured comments, and +100 for the hopes that it’s something innocent! (I, for one, have definitely been the extremely awkward one around the office crush, though I never went to the refusing-to-speak place. In retrospect, the silent treatment would have been vastly preferable (namely, the time I told his boss at a work party that I used to date someone his age … right in front of him. Eeeeek).)

  8. MommyMD*

    If the retreat is a once in a blue moon I’d go without complaint and just suck it up. Otherwise you are going to come off as a whiner, barring you are not in a wedding or something that weekend. I think we all have to deal with this stuff once in a while.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah. If it’s EVERY Saturday, that’s one thing (and that should have come up during hiring), but one sporadic Saturday falls in the category of “annoying things you sometimes have to deal with in the work force” to me.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Totally agree. It would come across as odd to push back strongly against this one.

      But the comp day might be doable depending on culture and standing. I would definitely grant such a request if I knew the person doing the asking generally did a good job and wouldn’t run around telling everyone else that they were owed a comp day.

      On the other hand, if it was an employee who did the bare minimum and constantly kept a running tally of what they had done and what they were owed, I would be less inclined to grant the request.

      1. Pretzel*

        I 100% agree. For my employees who will dig out the handbook for every single little thing (I have one who has a handbook issue at least 3 times per month for the most minute details) are given policy answers/treatment with no flexibility. Those who are a little more flexible get a lot more flexibility from me.

        I always advocate for my team and try to get them the most fair and reasonable answer but flexibility in reasonable things like a 1 day retreat goes a long way.

    3. Philly Redhead*

      Agree as well. OP will get “burned out” after having ONE weekend shortened to one day?

      1. Autumn anon*

        There are several disabilities and chronic illnesses for which a two day weekend is a necessity to recover from the last week and prepare for the next week, and having that shortened can have serious knock-on effects. I’m not saying that this is the case for the OP, but it’s something to keep in mind. What might be fine (if annoying) for you can be a serious problem for someone else.

    4. LBK*

      Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something in this letter – one shortened weekend doesn’t seem like a recipe for a burnout, unless you’re already working 80 hours a week or something. And even then, if this is a rare occurrence, I think you have to just suck it up.

    5. RB*

      Ooohh, good excuse. I’m going to use that next time I’m asked to do something on the weekend that I have no intention of agreeing to. Of course the people who know me well will know it isn’t true so I’ll have to be judicious about using it.

    6. Person of Interest*

      I think it’s highly unlikely you can get the retreat schedule changed – Saturday work conference/retreats are pretty common, but I would push back on getting the following Monday off so you still get a two-day weekend; that is probably much more under your boss’s control, especially if all the retreat plans are already finalized.

  9. MommyMD*

    People who are so judgmental towards gay people makes my blood boil. It is a good idea to make sure that nothing else is going on with her first. Why do people even care who someone else is dating or married to?

    1. JamieS*

      I don’t agree with their beliefs but I understand why they care about who others are dating. They care because people have a tendency of trying to impose their moral/ethical beliefs on others in order to get everyone else to fall in line with their moral compass. Most if not all of us are guilty of this so I think that’s more or less human nature.

      Part of the moral compass of an anti-gay person is being against homosexuality so they attempt to impose that on the rest of the world which often takes the form of getting involved in others relationships.

      1. Penny Lane*

        “I don’t agree with their beliefs but I understand why they care about who others are dating. They care because people have a tendency of trying to impose their moral/ethical beliefs on others in order to get everyone else to fall in line with their moral compass. Most if not all of us are guilty of this so I think that’s more or less human nature.”

        Not among normal people in normal parts of the country, though. Having grown up in the urban northeast, it never fails to astound me that when Catholics and Jews wanted their children taught in their particular religious beliefs, they started their own parochial / religious schools, and when in the south evangelicals wanted their children taught in their religious beliefs, they chose to try to impose prayer in public schools. There’s the difference right there. People who can live with diversity around them and people who can’t.

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          I think you’re making some sweeping generalizations of regional differences. It’s true that in the South there’s more of a push for religion in public schools, but let’s not say that that’s because they “can’t” live with diversity.
          (I grew up in the South, now I live in New England. It blows my mind how many families send their kids to private schools. And it’s not because of religious differences. I’ll give you a hint; the rise of private schools in New England started in the 1950s.)

          1. LouiseM*

            Yes, thank you. Northerners who want to pay themselves on the back about living in a “normal” part of the country have some soul searching to do. Ugh.

            1. Lindsay J*

              +1. Have lived in the North East and in Texas.

              Racism and other types of bigotry exist equally in both areas, it just takes different forms.

            2. Specialk9*

              Part of why Catholics had to start their own schools was because of breathtaking bigotry, violence, and hate speech against them (like that they were actual demons and evil). I know people who were one kind of Christian, and used to dare each other as kids to *touch the door of a Catholic church*, like it was a haunted house.

              For Jews, take that Catholic oppression and multiply it by a million.

              Whereas Protestants started this country, and have reigned freely ever since, separation of church and state to be ignored happily. It’s easy for them to get confused between their religion and the country, in a way that Catholics and Jews have never had the luxury of.

              1. Gadget Hackwrench*

                + 1, it’s less about region and more about the fact that the two religions you described (both with greater populations in north than south) have never had the numbers or capitol to try and push into schools. If they had more people, it might have been different… or might not… we’ll never know.

            1. Specialk9*

              Uh you sure about that? The Catholic schools – which are the most afforable private schools by a lot and often have significant scholarships – that I knew growing up were unusually diverse. It was seen as a way of getting your kid a chance if your neighborhood was rough. (Which in my city was most neighborhoods.) Like Chris Rock refers to in Everybody Hates Chris.

              1. Foxtrot*

                What’s your definition of diverse? I’m Catholic and went to Catholic school. If you mean that skin color doesn’t matter, then we’re pretty diverse. If you are openly not Catholic or speak out against church doctrine without having been born and raised in the church, there’s going to be a lot of questioning as to why you’re here. It’s kind of like, if you don’t like Catholic teachings, why are you paying *extra* money for them?

          2. Lady Jay*

            I’d also add that evangelicals’ interest in prayer in public schools (etc) is rooted in its historical traditions; evangelicalism has always been about a public expression of faith. Early in the 1800s, up through the Civil War, that public expression often took the form of what we would now call social justice; evangelicals such as Charles Finney were concerned about caring for the poor, and some early abolitionists were, if I recall correctly, evangelicals.

            But then German higher criticism called much of religious belief into question, and evangelicals pulled back to defend their faith, severing ties with more liberal believers. Some branches of evangelicalism pulled back altogether, separating even from other evangelicals who were considered “too close” to the progressives (this separation-upon-separation is how you end up with fundamentalism). At that point, conservative doctrines became more important, and the social justice stuff dropped by the wayside.

            And yes, as Frozen Ginger points out, private schools are as much about “white flight,” including evangelicals’ “white flight,” as anything.

            This is all tangential but really interesting to me. I recommend Frances Fitzgerald’s The Evangelicals: 700 pages, but fascinating and very well researched.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Thanks for the book recommendation! I’m going to look at it first chance i get. ☺

          3. LKW*

            I think it’s more likely that in less diverse areas it’s assumed that everyone is the same. That “others” just need to shut their mouths and learn the lessons from the majority. So in an area that is 9% Baptist or Protestant or whatever denomination they may not know anyone who isn’t Baptist or Protestant or whatever and so therefore, why would there be a question – everyone is Baptist (or Protestant or whatever)!

        2. Marthooh*

          “…when Catholics and Jews wanted their children taught in their particular religious beliefs, they started their own parochial / religious schools…”

          I think that was a matter of Catholics and Jews realizing they would not be able to impose their views on the larger culture around them. Those who try to (re)institute prayer in public schools are Protestant Christians. They literally are “normal people in normal parts of the country” in the sense of having beliefs that are close to the American norm.

          People learn to “live with diversity around them” because they have to, not because they’re normal.

          1. Penny Lane*

            In the northeast, Catholics and Jews aren’t some kind of special oddity outside of the “larger culture.” They ARE part of the larger culture, which is a mosaic or melting pot or whatever analogy you want to use.

              1. AMPG*

                Yes, and much of colonial New England was built on anti-Catholic traditions, regardless of how demographics changed over time.

                1. Kate 2*

                  Yep, and even the mid-Atlantic states, like New York, tend to be “New England Light”.

            1. Millennial Lawyer*

              I understand where you’re coming from, but for Jewish people that is just simply not the case in many areas of the northeast. I am a secular Jewish person and I have been in an office in New York outside NYC where I felt like the “other.” You also cannot forget about different sects of Jews such as members of the Hasidic community who are often treated as abnormal.

              1. Specialk9*

                Also a Jew, and I’m sorry, Hasidic Jews are often rude, surly, sexist, and contemptuous of everyone else in public. I’m sure there are sweet, polite, kind Hasidic Jews who quietly go about their business, but they’re certainly not the public face of that sect. So I suspect that a lot of their treatment is their own behavior reflected back.

                1. Observer*

                  Hasidic Jews are often rude, surly, sexist, and contemptuous of everyone else in public. I’m sure there are sweet, polite, kind Hasidic Jews who quietly go about their business, but they’re certainly not the public face of that sect. So I suspect that a lot of their treatment is their own behavior reflected back.

                  What an utterly bigoted thing to say.

                  And you’ve just helped illustrate why Jews, especially ones who are recognizable, can never forget that they are outsiders. Because when a a recognizable Jew does something rude that means that “Jews (who aren’t afraid to show their identity) are rude / bad / whatever, although (give me a merit badge, folks) I admit that they might have some exceptions.” But when anyone else with a recognizable identity acts badly, we all understand that that’s on THAT person, not the group they are a member of. To do otherwise is, rightly, called out as bigotry.

                  Why is this any more acceptable.

                  And, yes, I know that you say that you are Jewish. But you are DIFFERENT from THOSE Jews, and besides who’s going to know you’re Jewish unless you tell them? Do, you’re safe….

            2. Kate 2*

              What parts of the northeast are you talking about? In upstate New York the default is definitely not Catholic/Jewish. It’s Protestant/Methodist/etc. We do have a few Catholic people, but they are the vast minority. Literally for every Catholic church there are about 4 Protestant/Methodist.

          2. LouiseM*

            “Would not be able?” Jews CAN’T try to impose our religion on others. Proselytizing is not part of our faith or practice. We don’t want anyone to join our faith who’s not already there with few exceptions. Let’s leave the Jews out of this off topic discussion altogether, shall we?

            1. Rat in the Sugar*

              And Catholics actually don’t proselytize either–we’re supposed to get converts by living such an awesome Catholic life that others get curious and ask to learn. (Tho I do also acknowledge that the Church has done other things that fall under the purview of imposing our beliefs on others…)

              1. Alienor*

                This is true. My former husband was Catholic and at the time I was mildly interested in converting, and when we met the priest who was supposed to do our wedding, he not only didn’t try to encourage it, he was so rude to me about being a “heathen” that we ended up going outside the parish to get married. I realized later that I was an atheist, so it’s just as well I didn’t go through the conversion process, but there was definitely no proselytizing going on there.

                1. Specialk9*

                  I know plenty of Catholics who are happy to proselytize. Sounds like you got a super rude priest.

            2. Lalaroo*

              Maybe conversion and proselytizing is not part of the Jewish faith or practice, but I think Marthooh is also talking about faith-informed cultural practices. I’m thinking of the Hasidic areas of NYC that have tried to prevent women from riding bikes through their neighborhoods, or forcing women to sit in the back of the public bus that runs the route through their neighborhood.

              1. Observer*

                or forcing women to sit in the back of the public bus that runs the route through their neighborhood.

                Except, that never happened.

            3. Millennial Lawyer*

              I agree that this conservation should probably cease because it is derailing and unhelpful to OP, but there are areas where there are certain communities who have unique policy goals based on their Jewish faith. It’s not “proselytizing” but it is an example of issues re: separation of religion and state.

            4. spock*

              As a fellow Jew, let’s please not get all No True Scotsman about Judaism. Take a look at the Israeli public educational system before giving Judaism as a whole an automatic free pass for the fact of being Jewish.

          3. EOA*

            The reality is that Catholics were essentially forced to create their own school systems because the Protestant majorities in the Northeast weren’t particularly respectful of Catholic belief, and Catholics weren’t interested in seeing their kids converted. The reasons for Catholic education since then have changed but Catholics were a minority and the dominant culture at the time was pretty hostile to their beliefs. I imagine that was much the same reasoning for Jewish schools.

            In any case, it wasn’t that Catholics wanted to “impose” their beliefs, it was that they wanted to protect their own belief systems.

            1. Sara without an H*

              True. Anti-Catholicism was widespread in 19th & early 20th century Protestant culture. And one of the goals of public education at that time was to ensure that all children were taught Protestant values.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes. Just look at the history of school violence—the first major Sandy Hook-like massacre was at a Catholic school.

              From what I can tell, parochial/religious schools have very little to do with “imposition” of their beliefs, and it’s not helpful to OP or anyone else to incorrectly speculate on it.

          4. Temperance*

            So, actually, Judaism isn’t a religion that requires or even encourages its followers to spread the word. It’s also really not fair to lump Judaism in with Catholicism, because Jewish people have historically been discriminated against for their beliefs in ways that Christians of all stripes have not.

            1. Specialk9*

              That sounds like ignorance of history. Catholics were very much discriminated against. Maybe not in quite the uniquely awful way that we Jews were, but denying one group’s experience of suffering because it’s not up to one’s one level of suffering is pretty crappy. Why survive suffering at all, if it makes us hardened to others’ hurt instead of empathetic?

              Look at Maryland, a haven colony for persecuted Catholics. Lord Calvert / Baltimore faced persecution in the British Isles for becoming Catholic, then tried to establish a home in several places in the New World and met with religious discrimination. He literally had all of his land taken back despite decades of loyal indispensable service to the British king because of his religion. (He got it back but it wasn’t tenable long term.)

              Then throughout US history, Catholics were mistreated – ironic for a country built on religious liberty. (But the colonists only meant THEIR religious freedom, not people with wrong religions.) JFK was barely elected due to widespread suspicion that he would be controlled by the evil Vatican.

              It’s only since the 1960s or 70s that Catholics have been treated well and considered really American. (But not in much of the Bible Belt.)

              So yeah, we’re not the same, but lumping us together as non-mainstream who were mistreated by the mainstream sounds right.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                “Maybe not in quite the uniquely awful way that we Jews were, but denying one group’s experience of suffering because it’s not up to one’s one level of suffering is pretty crappy. Why survive suffering at all, if it makes us hardened to others’ hurt instead of empathetic?”

                Thank you, and I wish more people had this attitude!

          5. pleaset*

            “I think that was a matter of Catholics and Jews realizing they would not be able to impose their views on the larger culture around them.”

            With a few exceptions, Jews in the US do not even try to impose their views on others – they do not proselytize. I’m not Jewish, but grew up in NYC where Judaism has a big role.

            1. Specialk9*

              We don’t proselytize, but we do advocate hard for social justice, which is a core Jewish value. We were leaders in the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, with higher representation than one would expect from only 3% of the population.

        3. JessicaC*

          Eh, Catholics started Catholic schools because American public schools in the 1820s-1830s were essentially Protestant. One of the big issues was that an Our Father was prayed every morning in the schools, but Catholics use a slightly different wording and would get punished for not saying the prayer “correctly.” (I don’t know thr history of Jewish education in the US but I imagine the issues were similar.)
          Some of evangelicals’ belief that the US is or should be a “Christian nation” is obviously a more recent historical invention as a reaction to diversity (like the fact that “under God” wasn’t added to the pledge of allegiance until the 1950s), but it is also a historical fact that the US was basically a Protestant country for the first 100 years or so, maybe more.

        4. Trout 'Waver*

          With all due respect, you’re completely off base in your assessment. It’s unfair to write off southerners as being unable to live with diversity. The south, and especially the rural south, is way more integrated than the urban northeast by any measure. Public schools, housing, employment, and politics are all much more integrated.

          1. Penny Lane*

            Yes, that’s why when I was a child in the urban northeast we had different toilet facilities, water fountains, and sections of buses for black people. Oh wait! No, we didn’t!

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I live in the northeast, and regularly visit relatives in the Deep South. The latter is more integrated. If you need to dig out examples from 60 years ago to argue about how things are this year, you’re losing.

              NPR had a thoroughly depressing story about a school district in the northeast that got controlled by an oft-discriminated-against-religious-minority-wanting-matching-funds-for-their-religious-schools who seized the opportunity to be quite awful. Trying to make everyone abide by your rules is a human thing, not a those-people thing.

              1. Kate 2*

                Just want to add: whether or not the populations of black/white people in an area are integrated is dependent on whether or not there are black and white people in the area at all *to be* integrated. I grew up in an area that was 98% white. The other 2% was because of a Native American reservation.

                So you could say we were segregated in that way, they didn’t attend our schools and vice versa (although they could have attended ours), but we weren’t segregated any other way. The few African American students were fully integrated into school life. There were one or two jerks, but there always are. Heck, I got bullied more than they did, as a nerdy white girl vs popular and athletic black kids.

              2. Recently Diagnosed*

                As someone who lives in the deep south, please keep in mind that just because areas are “integrated” doesn’t mean that they are equal. My workforce is pretty darn close to 50/50 white and POC. But when it comes time for raises and promotions, care to guess which group gets the money? Or what ethnicity 100% of our executives are? Or what kinds of things get written on the bathroom walls? Integrated, yes. Less aggressively racist? Our gerrymandering issues make me think not so much.

            2. Marthooh*

              The Catholic parochial school system was started back when public schools taught religion using the (Protestant) King James bible as a text. Catholics were indeed considered an oddity in this country. Jews, of course, have been considered an oddity in Western culture for centuries.

              All of which is to say that your own particular experience of the world is not necessarily the norm.

              1. Marthooh*

                Whoops, this was meant to reply to your previous comment.

                Now that I’m here though — Trout ‘Waver is speaking about the present, not the past. I don’t know what point you’re trying to make about your childhood.

            3. Trout 'Waver*

              The view that racism and segregation is a uniquely southern problem is incredibly naive. Just look at New York’s “stop and frisk” policy. Neighborhoods in the urban northeast were just as segregated without Jim Crow as the south was with it.

              In the present day, southerners are more likely to go to school, live, work, worship, and be represented by people of other races and backgrounds than urban northeasters.

              1. Penny Lane*

                Where would you rather be gay, transgender, in a marriage to someone of a different race, etc.?
                New York City or Alabama?

                Where does it Matter Greatly To Those About You if you’re not Christian? New York City or Alabama?

                Come on now.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  I’d sure pick Raleigh over Baltimore, Atlanta over NYC, and Miami over Boston. But that’s just me.

                2. Jules the Third*

                  I actually know several LBGTQx people in Birmingham (and Houston and Raleigh) who are not interested in moving to NYC, or have done so and moved back.

                  Please stop with the regional bigotry, it’s simplistic, gives cover to bigots who live outside the targeted region, and is not constructive.

                  You’re posting like Diallo, Garner and Vassell didn’t live and die in NYC, or like redlining isn’t a thing.

                3. Yorick*

                  I’m from Alabama and it is just not the way you think it is. Nobody was as explicitly racist as I’ve witnessed in the Northeast and Midwest, even when only White people were around. Probably because the Civil Rights Movement actually happened there and people have learned since then.

                4. Sylvan*

                  I’m queer and not Christian. I’d pick Atlanta, Asheville, the Outer Banks, maybe Charleston.

                5. LBK*

                  Hmmm, I would say that in some of these cities you’re better off if you’re in the gay neighborhood vs in NYC or Boston as a whole, but conditions drop off pretty dramatically when you’re outside that neighborhood. At this point in Boston there isn’t really a gay neighborhood anymore – so maybe on average in the city as a whole you might be worse off, but you also don’t have to be as careful what part of town you’re in.

                6. EOA*

                  And here we go with the “Boston is the most racist city in America!!!” Racism exists in Boston. Racism exists in the South, the Midwest, the West, New York City, Los Angeles, and so on and so forth. Racism exists everywhere because racism exists in the United States. But for some reason, Boston gets singled out as “the most racist city in America” so that the rest of the country can pretend like racism only exists in the South and Boston.

                  As for the LGBTQ community, Boston is extremely integrated when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

                7. AngelicGamer, aka the Visually Impaired Peep*

                  As a bisexual disabled woman, I’m all over the map on this. I’d much rather stay right here in the ‘burbs of Chicago, but if I had to move… well, it would be more south-ish than staying up north. My short list is Muncie, Asheville, and Sarasota – all three have family, either chosen or blood – but also because they’re comfortable. There’s only one place up north I’d move to and that would be Seattle.

                  Also, I do realize that Indiana is not a southern state, but there are pockets where it feels like I’m in a southern state. Especially where you can find deep fried brain which tastes so much better than it sounds. Mmmm.

                8. Shakti*

                  In regards to Boston being the most racist city in America, I grew up there and moved to the south and yes Boston is way more racist, yes racism is very much everywhere however Boston’s segregation is egregious, I’d say Atlanta and Miami are far more diverse, accepting, and welcoming to people of all different backgrounds than Boston or NYC

                9. LBK*

                  Part of what trips me up about these comments asserting that the northeast is at least or even more racist than the south is voting. It doesn’t seem borne out in who tends to vote for which candidates; is it necessarily better if people are nicer to your face in the south but then put people in power who want to undercut your rights? That seems like part of what’s allowed institutional racism to become so pervasive.

                10. Apostrophina*

                  As a Virginian who has been subject to multiple people from upstate New York ranting about minorities (including my ex-FIL’s date dropping an N-bomb at Thanksgiving dinner—she was from Buffalo), I can tell you “world-class city vs. entire state I am making [false!] assumptions has no actual cities” is not a great argument.

                  I also attended a private Protestant school in the south for several years in the ’80s (one of three in my town), so that’s also incorrect.

                11. Jesmlet*

                  Ignorance at its finest. I hope you reconsider your regional bigotry now that multiple people have chimed in. Your anecdotal experiences don’t speak to the actual circumstances in the north vs south. I’ve lived (briefly) in the south and I’ve lived in NY, CT, Boston and it’s not any harder to find a bigot in the north.

                12. Millennial Lawyer*

                  That is a false example. There are plenty of suburban and rural communities throughout New York, beyond NYC, where someone might have a difficult time.

                13. LBK*

                  Ignorance at its finest. I hope you reconsider your regional bigotry now that multiple people have chimed in. Your anecdotal experiences don’t speak to the actual circumstances in the north vs south. I’ve lived (briefly) in the south and I’ve lived in NY, CT, Boston and it’s not any harder to find a bigot in the north.

                  Okay, this is just insane. There might be pockets in the south where queer people have carved out communities for themselves, but any kind of broader objective data like elections proves where homophobia is concentrated. The northeast is, by and large, not the region that continues to elect politicians that push and support homophobic legislation (and racist legislation, for that matter). Maybe it’s just as easy to find someone who has no problem calling you the f-word to your face, but the numbers make it clear that it’s harder to find someone who doesn’t support gay marriage or adoption or work/housing discrimination.

                  Gay havens in these areas exist because the region in general is so much worse for gay people that the only way to survive is to band together and form a bubble where you can protect each other. That Asheville exists doesn’t mean it’s better to be gay *anywhere* in North Carolina than it is to be anywhere in Massachusetts.

                  I feel like in an attempt to hammer home the point that homophobia still exists in liberal cities (which it does, and I’m not pretending otherwise), people are denying the reality for people in the south who aren’t lucky enough to live in one of the bastions of progressiveness and don’t have the means to get there. Can we please focus on where these attitudes are *concentrated* and who is actually putting people in power that can dramatically affect the quality of life for gay people in entire states or the whole country? I’m really trying to avoid being political here but it’s frankly disgusting to me that with Mike Pence as our VP, people are arguing that Manhattan of all places is really the city that needs to check its homophobia. New Yorkers didn’t put him in the White House.

                14. Trout 'Waver*

                  @LBK Nobody is saying the South should get a free pass. But it’s misguided to focus only on the South. There are plenty of queer kids trapped in conservative communities on Long Island, upstate New York, and New Jersey too.

                  As for elections, well it’s really tough to suss out why people voted for who they did down to a single issue.

                15. LBK*

                  I’m not saying to only focus on the south, but these comments aren’t focusing on the south at all. People are giving full-throated defenses of the south as just as good if not a better place for queer people than the northeast and that is just demonstrably untrue by any objective standard.

                  And “well, there’s a lot of factors to a vote” is a bullshit privileged defense – if some other issue was so important to you that you were willing to throw minorities under the bus in exchange for it, you’re at worst a bigot yourself but at best you still have absolutely no right to claim yourself as evidence that your region is accepting or safe for those minorities.

                16. LBK*

                  This whole discussion is just awash in a kind of whataboutism that I thought the AAM commentariat was above.

                17. Jesmlet*

                  @LBK – I just hate how laser-focused everyone seems to be on how awful the south is when frankly I felt far more discriminated against up here. Pushing the narrative that the northeast is so much better ignores the reality for many people like myself who can’t walk in certain places with a female significant other without getting insults, dirty looks, and the occasional object hurled at me.

                  Please don’t presume to know why people make the decisions they make. It’s not just “privileged” people who disagree with you.

                18. LBK*

                  But on average, across the whole region, the northeast *is* better for LGBTQ+ people than the south. Maybe your day-to-day experience is better, but you’re certainly more legally protected in the northeast than you are in the south – for instance, every single state in New England protects against sexuality and gender identity discrimination for employment, vs literally no state in the south offering the same protection. A handful protect gender identity, and 2 protect both for government employees only. Maybe you “feel” less discriminated against in the south than the north, but it’s an indisputable fact that your livelihood is not as safe. And there’s a reason those laws exist or don’t exist where they do: because of the people that live there who call for them and who elect people who will support those calls.

                  The idea that someone who readily votes in a homophobic politician so they can get a tax cut or whatever is still somehow your ally is, frankly, delusional.

                19. LBK*

                  And I’m not saying it’s privileged people who disagree with me here (although I think many probably are). I’m saying it’s privileged people who are willing to vote against the rights of gay people even if they don’t consider themselves homophobic, because the loss of those rights won’t affect them.

                20. Anonymeece*

                  You’re literally comparing a city to a state.

                  Is there racism and other forms of bigotry in the South? Sure. Just as there are in the North. I can guarantee that in Austin, TX or Houston, TX, though, I’d feel more welcome as a queer woman than in some parochial town in the north.

                  I’ve found that city vs rural makes much more of a difference than north vs south, and even in that, there are perfectly lovely little communities in rural areas that have lovely people and people in cities who are bigoted jerks.

                  I’m tired of people saying that the south is full of bigots/religious freaks/stupid and tarring everyone down here with the same brush, particularly as an intelligent, non-evangelist, queer woman who loves her home state.

                  Let’s save the hate for the bigots themselves, not the places they live.

                21. LBK*

                  But the whole conversation was about north vs south…and the gay-friendly cities in the south are not the only part of the south.

                22. Trout 'Waver*

                  @LBK: This discussion started from the veiled assertion that southerners can’t live with diversity and northerners can.

                  It wasn’t a categorical discussion of voting, racism, and rights until you took it there. This isn’t what-aboutism. It’s people sharing data and personal anecdotes countering Penny Lane’s claim that the urban northeast is categorically better on diversity and tolerance than the South.

                23. Trout 'Waver*

                  Also, I want to point out that nobody defending the South is defending every person, state, and community in the South. They’re just saying you shouldn’t write off the whole region.

                24. LBK*

                  I think part of what might be causing disagreement here is reading “north vs south” as “the entire north vs the entire south” instead of “on average in the north vs on average in the south.” It should go without saying that neither the entire north nor the entire south is free of LGBTQ discrimination, because duh, but on average, it seems clear to me that the north is better for queer people than the south. And as much as there’s stereotyping of the south going on, there’s definitely stereotyping of northern cities too – I don’t know what you’ve seen or heard to convince you that Boston is a bad city to be a gay person in, least of all Manhattan where you could pretty much go your whole adult life without even having to talk to a straight person.

                25. Specialk9*

                  I spent most of my life in the South, and 5 years in Boston. In Boston I never once heard anyone use the N-word, or do that whisper thing (Jeanine, you know, the *black* lady on X team) and I heard those all the time in the South. I never saw a Confederate flag in the North, and my southern college dorms and parking lots had hundreds of Confederate flags.

                  I realize that this is only my (white) experience, and I likely self select friends and so it may not be representative, but the racism was pervasive where I lived in the South, and I just didn’t feel awash in it in Boston.

              2. Tardigrade*

                Also review sundown towns, which where not unique to the southern US. And to step outside of black racism, also recall the Chinese Exclusion Act and the anti-Irish sentiment which both had little to do with the southern region. I’m sorry to say that racism is not exclusive to a particular location.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Yep, sundown towns were all over the North. I’m from Illinois and all sorts of places around here used to be, and some kind of still are informally, even though it’s not encoded into the law anymore.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  And redlining. You don’t have to have a racist law on the books to engage in comparably horrific racism.

                3. Specialk9*

                  Yeah good calls.

                  I also noticed when I went out West that suddenly people were making those subtle we’re-all-white-here comments but about native Indians, and I had no clue what the dog whistles meant. I had to Google to find out the stereotypes being alluded to.

                  You’re right, humans will human.

            4. LouiseM*

              Can I recommend you read a poem by Jacqueline Trimble called “Everybody in America Hate the South”? Link in my name.

            5. SarahTheEntwife*

              Officially, no, but a lot of neighborhoods are highly segregated by informal means, and often by outright illegal discrimination in housing and other services.

            6. LBK*

              Just because it’s not codified doesn’t mean segregation doesn’t exist. In terms of housing, Boston is one of the most segregated cities in the country.

            7. Annabelle*

              NYC has the most segregated schools in the nation. The notion that the Northeast is some liberal mecca and the South is nothing but a bunch of racist, homophobic hillbillies is really overblown. And I’m saying this as a brown lesbian living in the Deep South.

            8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t know how to say this kindly, but the position you’re advancing is deeply inaccurate and advances judgmental and incorrect stereotypes. It’s also stunningly offensive to suggest that the Northeast was/is somehow less racist than the South. The South had Jim Crow, but there was plenty of de facto segregation and racism in the north (see, e.g., Boston). And anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish sentiment resulted in significant violence in the north, including terrorizing minority religious neighborhoods, schools, and places of worship (which continues today). Why is the northeast rife with ethnic neighborhoods and towns? It’s not because the population in power were such a warm melting pot of diversity. And private schools? They grew exponentially as Brown worked its way through the courts.

              One of the worst mistakes we can make is to forget our own legacies of oppression or to think were more enlightened than we really are.

              1. Marty*

                The statement that “the north is less racist than the south” does not in any way imply that “the north isn’t racist”. In fact, it can be true in spite of the fact that the north is highly racist. The fact of the matter is that the black diaspora happened for a reason, and that reason wasn’t “because the north and south

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  There was movement from North to South of black americans in response to lynchings, pre and post 1960s. This is undeniable, even if the majority of black americans are in the south. The Northern response was not great, but it absolutely happened.

          2. Sylvan*

            The South is aware of and discusses its historical and present racism. White people in the northeast think they don’t have problems, and won’t discuss them.

            1. AfterBurner313*

              My friend told me down South people call you n***** to your face. At least you know where you stand. Up North people call you n***** behind your back and undermine you on the down low. Different but equally awful.

              No winners here.

          3. Mookie*

            According to a FiveThirtyEight article on the correlation of diversity and segregation in US cities based on data generated by Brown University and culled from the 2010 census: of the ten most segregated, highly populous cities in the US, three are in southern states (Georgia and Lousiana), four are in the midwest (Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio), and the remainder are in the northeast (Maryland, Pennsylvania, and D.C.). The ten most integrated cities are all in western states. Among the 20 cities considered most diverse at a city- or neighborhood-wide level, all but four (in New Jersey, New York, and Illinois) are in western states.

            One of the takeaways is, barring a few outliers, diverse cities not located in the western US are pretty comparable in terms of their failure to produce substantial integration and actually look a lot alike when diversity and segregation are indexed together.

          4. Lindsay J*

            +1. I grew up in New Jersey (not in Camden or Newark). Guess how many black kids were in my class at school? At any of my jobs? In my neighborhood?

            Did it get that way by accident? No. It did not. (Not that that necessarily has anything to do with the people currently living there. But by that measure, neither do the Jim Crowe laws in the South).

            Also, I’ve seen the same people in the North East that I went to school with, who would all consider themselves to be tolerant and liberal, make horrible comments about the Hasidic Jewish population in Lakewood.

            On the other hand, down in Texas things are much more integrated. I have neighbors that are black, coworkers that are black (and hispanic, and Indian). You live with people and work with people and treat them as people.

            There are also thriving gay communities in Galveston, and Houston, (and probably Dallas as well though I’m not as well connected to the community here) and none of my gay friends have ever expressed any sort of fear about living down here. Houston had a lesbian mayor for years.

            (Though it might be different in the smaller towns. I don’t have much experience in those.) Also there is a town outside of Dallas named “White Settlement” which is really gross.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Also, I have experienced exactly one person in Texas who cared that I was an Atheist. And she was just sort of overbearing about religion in general because it had been a positive force in her life, and couldn’t understand why those of us who had been alienated by the church or just might not be religious at all would not feel the same way. She looked at it as a great place to get support and feel a sense of community.

              The other 100s of people I’ve met down here in 6 years? Not a single care or word. But again, might be different in small towns.

              1. Temperance*

                I’m from a rural area in the northeast, and I can confirm that a LOT of people there really care about other people’s lack of Christianity.

                1. Lora*


                  It’s much much more rural vs city in my experience. In big cities (including, yes, Boston) nobody cares much about anything other than the latest sportsball, how the transit system is running today/number of accidents on the major highway, and the line at the donut shop. In rural areas, everyone is all up in your business and feels free to have an opinion.

                  Maybe because in a city, you can’t even keep track of all the people you casually interact with and naturally filter it out, focusing only on your little circle of the universe that you have stronger relationships with, who affect your daily life more? Whereas in rural areas there’s less distraction and it’s actually possible to know everyone, so you do? I dunno.

                2. Tardigrade*

                  Yeah, I think rural vs. urban is probably more what the difference is rather than North vs. South.

        5. Jules the Third*

          “Not among normal people in normal parts of the country… when in the south evangelicals …, they chose to try to impose prayer in public schools.”

          Wow. This is really bigoted. I’m guessing you don’t even know that the original Supreme Court ruling against school-sponsored prayer (Engel v. Vitale ) was from NYC, where Christians were trying to impose their beliefs over the objections of Jews, and fought to keep Christian prayer in school all the way to the Supremes? States all over the US fought it, not just the south.

          On LBGTQx issues, the businesses refusing to make gay wedding cakes are in Oregon and Colorado. Black men are shot by police all over the country – Sacramento’s in California, and Brooklyn’s in NYC, and that’s just the last two weeks.

          On the other hand: Atlanta, Houston, Greensboro NC, Raleigh / Durham all have a lot of LBGTQx people and protections. NC’s infamous ‘bathroom bill’ was triggered by the city of Charlotte trying to get ahead of the federal govt with LBGTQx protections, and the state govt trying to stop it. NC’s NAACP president leads a coalition of liberal groups working together to raise funds and candidates. GA and NC are purple states, with VA trending blue.

          The south is also still the country’s largest concentration of African Americans (my city is about 25%). So, for your not ‘normal’ parts of the country, you’re throwing blacks under the bus.

          Reality is that ‘normal’ people are mixed with ‘bigots’ all through the US, and frankly, through the world. Yes, bigotry sucks, yes, fundamentalists of every religion suck, yes, Christian fundamentalism has an outsized and sucky influence on US politics. But it’s not limited to any single region, nor does any region have a lock on virtue.

          This from the cis mostly straight white woman who picked up her husband in a gay bar 20 years ago in Raleigh, and who marches and works with Moral Mondays / HKonJ (link in the name if you want to know more about southern activism).

          1. ExcelJedi*


            From NJ by way of NYC. Can confirm anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, Christian fundamentalism (and Christian fundamentalism which does not overlap with bigotry) in some of the most liberal areas of US Northeast, even today.

          2. Emily*

            Thank you.

            It’s not that the south doesn’t have issues with racism and other forms of bigotry, just that people in other regions tend to unfairly assign all of the bigotry to the south and assume that their own communities are okay. (As someone who grew up in Raleigh, I was exposed to many more types of people and cultures and ideas than any of my dad’s side of the family, who are all fairly right-wing and live in New York and Pennsylvania. And currently I live in a city in western NY and have heard some pretty racist and homophobic stuff come out of the mouths of people who grew up nearby.)

          3. Anonymeece*

            Louder for the people in the back!

            Also adding: Houston not only has a lot of LGBTQ protections, but also had an openly gay, female mayor.

        6. Nita*

          I don’t think it’s quite that simple. It’s more that in places where the majority is more of a majority, and the minority is much smaller and less visible, it’s easier to conveniently “forget” that the minority is there at all, and after that, what’s the big deal about some prayer in schools, “everyone” prays anyway so why not do it there? In the urban northeast… if you try to bring prayer into schools, you’re bound to tick off a whole lot of people who do not pray this particular prayer.

        7. all aboard the anon train*

          There’s no such thing as a “normal” part of the country.

          I’ve experienced some pretty awful homophobia and biphobia in the northeast. I love Boston and NY and they certainly have more laws to protect queer individuals than some other states, but they’re also not 100% perfect.

          I’m not going to get into an argument over which city is more racist or xenophobic or homophobic because I think every city and state has had those issues in the past and present and there’s no one qualifier to determine what makes one city more problematic than the next.

          But my personal experience is that I’ve loved living in those cities, but they’re not without hate crimes and not without populations who refuse to live with diversity. Just because Boston or NY have protections for queer individuals doesn’t mean hate crimes or bigotry doesn’t exist here. It exists everywhere.

          1. Penny Lane*

            I think the above commenter is right that it’s probably more of an urban vs rural thing than a north vs south thing. In which case … 80% of the country lives in urban areas and 20% lives in rural areas, so I’m pretty confident saying that urban gets to define the norm, not rural.

        8. Artemesia*

          Well those southern evangelicals did start there own schools; happened as soon as schools integrated. They felt they could impose the majority religion in the public schools but were not willing for their kids to go to school with black kids. Hence seg academies are still a thing in the south. We had all sorts of acquaintances in the southern city we did our careers in shocked that we sent our kids to the public schools; they were both national merit; they both had great teachers in the public schools (and some rotten ones). It was not at all clear that the typical private school was superior academically, but they were certainly a whole lot whiter.

        9. Anion*

          “Moral/ethical beliefs” don’t just apply to religion. People of all belief systems (on all sorts of topics) are perfectly capable of thinking everyone should agree with them and wanting them to be punished if they don’t. We see evidence of that in the news every day; heck, we see evidence of that in the comment section right here every single day.

          And I’ve lived in a number of places in the south and not once have I met people who literally cannot stand to live with diversity around them. I’m honestly surprised to see you say that, Penny, because you have always seemed much more level-headed and open-minded than such a statement implies.

        10. Dragoning*

          Catholicism and Judaism are both minority religions in the US with a fair bit of discrimination faced by both. Homophobia really isn’t a comparable situation.

        11. CCV*

          Wow. As a Catholic who’s experienced some very harsh discrimination since relocating to the Bible Belt, your comment comes off as at BEST ignorant. The fact is that in much of this country non-Protestants TODAY don’t feel safe or welcome. And for ANY religion, it is a parent’s right to say they’d rather have their child in a school run by their parish/synagogue rather than the government.

        12. Michaela Westen*

          As someone who grew up in a fundamentalist American area, I know imposing prayer in public schools is the tip of the iceberg. The fundamentalist goal is to force everyone to live by all their rules whether we want to or not.

        13. JamieS*

          Unless your definition of a normal person is “hermit that has zero interaction with other people” yes “normal people” also try to get others to behave in a way they think is right based on their sense of right and wrong (aka their moral compass”). They show visual displeasure, verbally reprimand, refuse to socialize with someone who’s displaying displeasing behavior, support laws/policies that fall in line with their sense of right and wrong, reward people who display pleasing behavior,etc. We all do those things and the reason we do is because (either consciously or subconsciously) we’re trying to get people to behave in ways we think are correct. It’s part of being a member of a highly social species.

      2. Foxtrot*

        I’m not sure it’s even a morals thing. I frequently hear people talking about music they don’t like as “making people’s ears bleed,” or “you have to be stupid to like that.” There aren’t morals to music. And this applies to lots of things – movies, fashion, food tastes, etc. People can have trouble with reasoning out that someone can be different without being bad. We want the world to be exactly like us.
        I do it too, though I try to work on that. I still don’t understand how someone can’t like peanut butter or chocolate, but it happens.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is where “INconCEIVable!” gets hurled around inappropriately in a lot in internet discussions.

        2. Mookie*

          There aren’t a lot of political stripes that make the Sacred and Compulsory Eating of Peanut Butter a core value and a legislative goal, though, nor do they characterize abstaining from peanut butter an immoral act and a sign of low character. Whether or not someone believes in their heart-of-hearts that gay sex is “wrong” — rather than just icky — doesn’t really matter, it’s true, but like a lot of other worldviews that disfavor personal autonomy and multiculturalism, modern homophobia manifests as concern-trolling (“we’re worried about your mortal soul and we really mean well, pinkyswear”) and dogwhistling (“cultural Marxism” and the “unnatural” “feminizing” of male humans) because it’s more palatable and profitable to do so. You can’t just scream fag or dyke at someone anymore. You must whistle at a higher and more sophisticated register and you must pretend always to be arguing in good faith.

          Plus, y’know, being picked on as a fifth grader for being a lesbian was nothing like being picked on at university for liking really tedious, noodle-y prog music. The distinction is that homophobia harms and kills people like me and sometimes puts out of work, whereas I can readily tune out music snobs without consequence or fear.

        3. Anion*

          My youngest daughter doesn’t especially like peanut butter and chocolate. I would wonder if she’s actually mine if there wasn’t so much evidence to prove she is.

        4. SubbyP*

          Well, peanut butter will kill me, so there’s that.
          I think humans have an unfortunate habit of ascribing outright moral value to amoral preferences. I can’t count the times I’ve seen people sermonized at for liking a particular fictional pairing or an activity commonly associated with the “wrong gender” or whatever. I don’t think we can remove morals from the question; I think we need to be more aware of the broad ways we assign moral value.

      3. LS*

        Not necessarily – I strongly believe in gender equality, but I don’t tell off random men who make their wives do all the work or won’t let them drive. There’s a particular mindset of “I am normal and you are not” that is involved in judging other people’s relationships/food/speech/appearance, and while thinking about it is human nature, feeling you have the right to actively intrude on others when no-one is being harmed is pushy, arrogant and unpleasant.

          1. Jules the Third*

            It is actively harmful, but you can’t save adult humans from themselves.

            You can make safe escape spaces and paths, and if you want to be intrusive you can express your dislike of the practice or you can talk about how it’s often an abusive tactic or how it’s easy to use as part of abuse, but adult humans have the right to choose the structure of their relationships.

            Some women choose to be ‘subservient’ to their husbands, and the ‘not allowed to drive’ is usually part of that choice. Not ever my choice, not one I’d advocate for, but you can’t make other people’s choices for them.

            1. Mookie*

              Sure, but LS’s hypothetical didn’t mention women’s choice or agency. Actively denying someone access to something they want and have every right to or compelling them to do something they don’t have any obligation to do is not a “private” or “domestic” concern that we can’t “intrude” upon.

              And of course we can constrain or expand our fellow humans’s array of choices. We do that through government and law.

              1. Mookie*

                Sort of the standard approach to social justice, really: people Choose Their Choices from whatever meagre buffet they’re given. And collective action (boycott, protest, voting, et al) is often necessary to bring in another, more imaginative, more generous caterer.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  Not my monkeys, not my circus. If they live in a developed country and choose a relationship structure with aspects I don’t necessarily approve of or believe in, it’s still not my place to insert myself. On the other hand, if they want helping getting out of that relationship, I’ll move heaven and earth to help them.

                2. LS*

                  Yes, exactly – that’s why I talked about not interfering in someone’s relationship. Law and social change is the correct way to proceed, not telling off some random person for the way they’re living their life.

            2. KAZ2Y5*

              You know, I have been a Baptist all my life {over 50 years) where “wives, submit to your husband” is a real thing (hotly debated sometimes, but a real thing) . I have never (at least since I have been an adult) known one woman who did not drive because her husband said she couldn’t. I would say this is a very small section of fundamentalism.

              1. Artemesia*

                On the other hand, I cannot count the number of times I was asked or told ‘I can’t believe (husband’s name) lets you (go to consult in China or Kuwait, go to a week long conference and leave him with the kids etc etc’. The idea that ‘husband’s let wives’ do things is very much woven into the American southern world view. My then 12 year old daughter stared at one of these women in disbelief and said ‘ Let, ‘LET’, What is she, a cocker spaniel?’

                1. Pebbles*

                  My mother believes I shouldn’t have any interests that take me away from my husband and has even asked him “How do you feel when Pebbles isn’t home with you?” I mean, that’s a valid question maybe once, and only once. But to act dismayed when he replies that he’s fine with me doing things without him (including multi-day vacations!) is rude, IMO. She has told me that “One day I’ll wish I had spent more time with him”. Well of course I will! That will be true no matter how much time I spend with him, but I don’t know any married couple that wants to be together 24-7!

                2. KAZ2Y5*

                  Oh, I totally believe you about that. My in laws said the same thing about one of the few business trips that I had to take. At least they only said it to my husband, not me. Plus he told them it was necessary for me to go and not to worry about it. I was mainly responding to the idea that a large part of being subordinate was not driving (at least that was my impression of the comment).

        1. JamieS*

          If someone tried to start a movement that banned women from working or driving would you say nothing and be fine with that? I’m assuming no. I wasn’t saying everyone imposes themselves into others personal relationships. I was saying people tend to try to get the world in general to abide by their sense of right and wrong and with this particular group of people it’s not uncommon for that to take the form of involving themselves in others relationships.

      4. MK*

        I don’t know, reasonable people can regulate their behavior, if not their idealogy. My very conservative and religious parents are not ever going to be LGBT+ allies, but when they made a negative comment to me about gay people and I responded “even if it is a sin, it’s not really your place to interfere with other people”? They agreed that the state of other people’s souls isn’t their bussiness; and they don’t treat gay people that they have to interact with as lepers.

        1. Jules the Third*

          This is actually a decent compromise.

          The problem is that some strains of religion have ‘proselytizing’ or ‘witnessing’ as an active requirement. The idea is that if someone in these religions sees ‘sinful’ behavior and doesn’t call it out, then they are condoning it and some of the sin gets on them.

          I personally hate this, but it’s their choice to be part of such a religion, and I can’t stop that. I just work to keep it out of the legal or similar power systems.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have extended family like this — in fact all my family on one side a generation back — and I have an uncle who goes door to door to strangers to bring them the word. (he is not JW, or Mormon — he just does it as part of his Christian witness. Having lunch with him is so annoying)

          2. Pomona Sprout*

            I was raised in a religion like that, and I can vouch for the brainwashing that goes on. As a teenager, I remember actually being told that it was my personal responsibility to “witness” to others and that if someone I could have witnessed to and didn’t went to hell, that was also my responsibility. It’s a pretty horrible thing to do to a kid, but it happens. I got out, but it took me years to completely shake the fear of hell fire and damnation that had been drummed into me. It’s such a visceral thing and can hang on long past the time when you no longer believe in it on an intellectual level.

            I know for a fact that there are people who sincerely believe it’s their job to try to keep other people from going to hell (which to them is a VERY real thing). They’re mistaken, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’re not heart attack serious about it.

        2. LKW*

          The reboot of Queer Eye states up front that the original sought tolerance and this reboot is aiming for acceptance. Queerness is brought up but the consistent theme is “We are not that different, we have common experiences; I just look more fabulous but I’m going to help you out there ok?”

      5. Observer*

        That’s actually not really true. Sure, there ARE people like that, but that’s not inherent to the belief structure.

        For some context – I’m an Orthodox Jew, which informs my view of homosexual activity. Yet, I find the idea that an assistant is going to give her boss the silent treatment over this to be utterly bizarre.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      What if the secretary is just heart-broken and not bigoted? (that wouldn’t make her behavior any less acceptable, it’s just another angle).

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I don’t know. The secretary stopped talking to the OP, not everyone in the office. If she had stopped talking to everyone the OP probably would have noticed and wrote in with that. Stopping talking to just one person because something happened totally unrelated to that person is pretty odd, stopping talking to your boss because something unrelated happened is worse. It is good to check in with her and ask if anything else is going on, yes, but I think best case scenario here is that secretary is mad at boss for something work related.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Stopped talking to OP because she had a crush on OP, I think is what RO-Cat was getting at. Fergus the IT guy was never in the running, so she still talks to him.

          1. Penny Lane*

            Yes, let’s invent implausible scenarios that have no basis in the letter. Yes, theoretically the secretary is heartbroken because she had a crush on the letter-writer and now realizes it can’t be. Except that’s not even remotely supported by anything the LW states.

              1. Penny Lane*

                Fine, I’ll rephrase:
                While it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the secretary is heartbroken because she had a crush on the LW and now realizes it can’t be, that LW is “taken,” there’s nothing in the LW’s commentary that suggests that any of this is the case. So it is probably not a worthwhile hypothetical to spend time on.

                1. Decima Dewey*

                  Besides, a romantic relationship between subordinate and boss is a bad idea for so many reasons.

                2. Reba*

                  Thanks Penny Lane! Same idea, more kind.

                  FWIW I was confused by the “heartbroken” reference at the start of this thread bc that possibility really didn’t occur to me!

                3. Artemesia*

                  Well said. While it is appropriate to approach this openly without assumptions (and approach it the OP must). It is extremely unlikely that the ‘crush’ scenario is what is happening. It might possibly be something besides homophobia — just barely, but homophobia is by far the most likely interpretation.

      2. Temperance*

        I’ve noticed a tendency to sometimes give bad actors the benefit of the doubt in such a way that is kind of ridiculous. When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

        LW is a queer woman dating another woman, and her secretary started giving her the silent treatment after finding this out. I guess it’s theoretically possible that she had some Serious Issues OMFG that day, and she can’t get it together because of said Serious Issues, but it’s doubtful.

        1. Anion*

          It may be doubtful, but it’s still a lot kinder to assume good intentions; and it’s more helpful to the LW for her to assume good intentions so she doesn’t go into the conversation assuming the worst, and possibly being inadvertently combative or rude right upfront, because of those assumptions.

          Aside from anything else, if the secretary *is* being silent because she can’t speak to a gay person for some ridiculous reason, then firing her could potentially set up some sort of “religious freedom” argument; in that case, for the LW to go into the conversation being rude or cold right up front could potentially strengthen that argument, whereas going into it in as friendly and pleasant a way as possible won’t. LW doesn’t want to give the secretary the chance to say something like, “As soon as she realized I knew she was gay she started being really abrasive with me, and she demanded to know why I wasn’t talking to her anymore with an air that implied she knew it was because of my religion! That showed her bigotry against me,” or something.

          There was an article a little while back in Out or the Advocate or something written by a young lesbian who went to some sort of Christian convention; I don’t recall the details (I could probably hunt it down if necessary) but what it boiled down to was everyone was really nice to her; they continued being nice after she came out to them; and she complained about it and decided they were bigots anyway and was still hostile toward Christians in general. Going into any situation deliberately hoping for a “Gotcha!” rarely works out the way one hopes it will.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            It’s kinder, and it also might actually work because it makes it easier to talk to her. The direct approach (“You stopped talking to me on X date – is that because you found out I’m queer?”) has its attractions, of course, but if you’re right and the problem is the OP’s sexuality, then you’ll just make the person angry or put them on the defensive, and if you’re wrong, if the problem is something bad in the person’s personal life…wellllll that would be bad. So the indirect approach (“I’ve noticed this. Is something wrong? How can I help?”) is not only kinder but probably more effective. You can always become more assertive if the indirect approach doesn’t work.

          2. JM60*

            “it’s still a lot kinder to assume good intentions”

            The OP should leave the door open to good intentions, but I don’t think they should assume good intentions. There’s a difference.

            “Aside from anything else, if the secretary *is* being silent because she can’t speak to a gay person for some ridiculous reason, then firing her could potentially set up some sort of “religious freedom” argument; in that case”

            That wouldn’t be an issue of religious discrimination if that’s what you’re implying. If the secretary was fired due to a homophobic belief that talking to a lesbian is wrong, it wouldn’t be religious discrimination unless the OP (provided that the OP would’ve done the same thing if the secretary was an atheist, Muslim, Jew, etc. who had the same homophobic belief).

            1. Anion*

              I’m not saying, or even implying, that it WOULD be religious discrimination (or a violation of “religious freedom,” which was what I was talking about). I’m saying it’s best not to give the secretary any ammo if she wants to make such a claim–frankly, if she’s someone who refuses to even speak to a gay person, then I’d suspect she’d be the type to claim the LW has violated her religious freedom by forcing her to interact socially or whatever other nonsense. And as nonsensical as it is, it could still be a mess the LW doesn’t want to waste time on or get involved in–as we’ve seen here before, there are lawyers out there, *people* out there, who will pursue any number of ridiculous arguments in order to gain publicity or money or both. I thought that was clear by my final sentence, at least, if not before, but I guess not, so I apologize.

              Either way, if you want the LW to go into the meeting with the idea firmly fixed in her head that her secretary probably isn’t speaking to her because she’s gay, and to have that assumption color the whole interaction from the beginning and thus make it more hostile, that’s fine. I gave my reasons for why I think it’s more helpful to her to assume good intentions in this situation–aside from any other silly, stupid thing like kindness and/or trying to be a better, more open person who doesn’t immediately assume everyone else is a horrible bigot and is thus inferior to me–and Kathleen A. gave another reason with which I also agree. But again, if you don’t, then okay.

        2. Observer*

          I agree that the most likely scenario is that the secretary is being wildly unprofessional because she disapproves of the boss being gay. But, since it really IS possible that there is another reason (with a crush being least likely, imo), it is a LOT more useful for the OP to go in with the assumption that there is a reasonable explanation. Assumption, not conviction, because she needs to be open to the obvious answer.

          1. Observer*

            I apologize – I hadn’t realized that there is a significant difference between “gay” and “queer”. I’ll be more careful going forward.

    3. ExcelJedi*

      Not to derail, but queer =/= gay. I’m a queer (bi/pansexual) woman in an opposite-sex marriage with a man. I know it’s not your intent, but the assumption leads to bi erasure.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I believe “queer” is supposed to cover an entire alphabet of other-than-cis-straight, not only one narrow category of person.

        1. ExcelJedi*

          It is, and that’s how the letter writer described herself. My issue is that MommyMD then talked specifically about being gay, which may or may not be the case for the letter writer. (And whether or not it is, it’s respectful to refer to people using their stated identities, not the identities we think they might mean.)

        2. Mookie*

          Also, for some generations, queer connotes an active hand in promoting liberation, which may also include radical separatism.

        3. Sylvan*

          It is. It’s also a reclaimed slur that has frequently been used against gay people specifically.

      2. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Thank you for this. Queer can also encompass trans, genderfluid, and ace folks, and the LW could conceivably be one/some/all of those, too. More likely to be lesbian or bi? Yes. But queer is a lovely spectrum of folks, many of whom could be dating a woman. :)

        1. Dragoning*

          And aro folks! /represent And pan.

          Besides, “queer” is what LW used, so I think that’s what we all should use.

        1. many bells down*

          I’ve had people tell me that I CAN’T be bi and married. It “just can’t work.”

          Ironically, I’ve been married for 15 years and usually get told this by single men.

          1. Relly*

            Statistically, most bi people end up in long term relationships with the opposite gender. Slate did an article about it, stating that that’s actually to be expected from a sheer numbers perspective: there are more straight people of the opposite gender in the available pool than bi/gay of the same. Link in title.

            1. JennyFair*

              Yes, but we don’t stop being bi/pan when we marry someone of the opposite sex. There’s a surprising number of people, both straight and gay, who think that bi/pan people are constitutionally incapable of monogamy. I don’t argue that many end up married to an opposite sex partner–and often before they even recognize or admit their sexual orientation–but the erasure of our identities by attaching them to the person we’re currently in a relationship with is harmful.

              1. many bells down*

                That idea that we can’t be monogamous was actually why I broke up with my first girlfriend. Who was ALSO bisexual, but was absolutely certain that I would cheat on her with any man or woman I ever spoke to.

                1. Relly*

                  I am now facepalming and realizing I misread your previous comment; I thought your coworkers were saying you didn’t count as bi any longer because of your marriage, not that you would compulsively cheat because you were bi.

              2. Relly*

                Sorry, I think I didn’t explain myself well. I thought the article was interesting because people somehow view bi people dating / marrying the opposite gender as some sort of proof that those people “aren’t REALLY bi,” which is point blank ridiculous. Bi means either; being with one or the other isn’t a disqualifier.

                I should have prefaced my link by explaining that better. Reducing bi people to who they are currently dating is just more bi erasure. I wasn’t meaning to counter many bells down — I was trying to further her point.

                (I’m another bi-married lady myself.)

  10. ReBecCa from TriBeCa*

    Oh please. As some woman told my Mom at the beauty salong when Mom was complaining about our state legalizing same-sex marriage: ” If you don’t like the law, don’t marry another gay person. Shut the f— up and move on with your own life”. Mom was kind of hurt by these comments, but the woman was right.

    1. Nita*

      +1! That’s exactly what my husband said to a coworker who was complaining about gay marriage: “If you have a problem with gay marriage, just don’t get gay-married!”

    2. Artemesia*

      LOL. Exactly. When someone whined about the gay couple down the hall from us and gays threatening marriage, I was “how does a gay marriage threaten my marriage? I am not married to a gay guy. The real threat of gays to straight marriage is when gays were bullied into marrying people of the opposite sex to masquerade as ‘normal’; that kind of pressure created a lot of misery for everyone especially if the partner didn’t know until they had married, maybe had kids etc. It is pretty discouraging to know you were married as a beard and that your spouse never was deeply attracted to you. I know several situations like that; it is awful for everyone concerned. Letting people be who they are and live their lives is healthier for everyone. “

      1. Relly*

        If people were really concerned about the Sanctity of Marriage, they would outlaw Vegas drive-through wedding chapels, or shows like the Bachelor / Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire. They would put restrictions on getting a divorce.

        Odd that The Sanctity of Marriage only ever comes up when gay people want to get married …

        1. Triple Anon*

          And divorce. The Bible barely mentions homosexuality, if it does at all (there are a few lines that are open to interpretation). There’s a lot more about remaining faithful, staying with your spouse and not cheating. Why are those not bigger issues? Why do they want to prohibit gay marriage but keep divorce legal?

          1. Specialk9*

            Lots more about how Christians can’t be rich (or vanishingly rarely), yet somehow that isn’t in these culture war salvos. Just to try to make *other* people not have religious freedom, in the name of a god who said the opposite.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, there ARE a lot of people who are / have tried to put restrictions on divorce. It’s always shouted down in short order.

      2. Tardigrade*

        Yep, there’s some quote I’ve seen that goes, “if gay marriage is a threat to your marriage, then one of you is gay.”

  11. Seth*

    #2 – You say your three co-workers knew you were in a relationship before the text incident. You also say that you weren’t hiding the fact that you were dating a woman, and you and your co-workers talk about your personal lives (hard to avoid in an office of four) but you don’t go into detail about it. And your girlfriend has a very feminine name.

    So when you were discussing your personal life before this incident, I wonder how you handled referring to your girlfriend, and also how you reacted when your co-workers asked questions about something like your weekend activities.

    Did you say things like, “We went out to dinner” or “We visited my family”? And if so, did they ask questions or make statements like, “What did he order? or “What did ____ think of your family?” Did you not correct them on the pronoun? Did you never mention a name, and did they never ask? That seems very unlikely.

    I have a friend who had a dating situation like this and she was convinced that she never lied about who she was dating based on what *she* actually said when discussing her boyfriend/fiancé (inter-office dating was against office policy). She spent almost two years implying that she was dating a former boyfriend. Her co-workers would use this person’s name and she wouldn’t correct them, all the way up to throwing her an engagement party. When she finally revealed after the wedding that she had married someone right in their department (who also never mentioned the relationship), it went over very poorly. The co-workers said, “You said you were dating Davey and all this time it was really *Goliath?!*” and she responded, “I never actually *said* that. You just thought it.”

    My point is, there’s a good chance your co-worker isn’t not speaking to you because you’re gay, but because she felt that you deceived her. That’s more likely if she never said any anti-gay sentiments, which I feel you would have mentioned. It’s worth considering.

    1. Catherine*

      The difference between the LW’s situation and the one you just described is that your friend’s SO was in the same workplace and her coworkers threw her an engagement party, which created an obligation on your friend’s part to come clean. (I mean, yikes, did they put the wrong guy’s name on the card and cake?) LW’s coworkers aren’t throwing parties for her over her relationship, so it’s unfair to characterize her as “deceiving” them. They haven’t taken any actions that would produce a “need to know,” so she’s under no obligation to volunteer information about her partner’s gender or her own orientation with them.

    2. Chell*

      The letter-writer says she avoided going into detail about her relationship at work so I think what you’re describing is pretty unlikely. Those of us who have to remain closeted in certain settings don’t invent elaborate lies, we simply share the bare minimum. Rather than talking about dates, I’d bet money that LW said nothing at all about her girlfriend but might have dropped a “we”/“us” now and then without thinking. In an office where sharing isn’t the norm, that kind of thing wouldn’t be questioned—people would let it drop.

      Not sure of your own situation, but the way you advise LW to “think about it” seems like you’re passing judgment on how LW acted here, when what she did was very, very normal from both a personal standpoint and a safety one. And you’d be surprised how often we get hit with homophobia even from people who’ve never expressed it before (like your comment).

      1. LS*

        Yeah, the pronoun game (or mentioning your “friend”) is self-protective for a good reason in many places. I’ve experienced coming out to acquaintances followed by them never speaking to me again more than once, though fortunately not with a co-worker. And some of those times they must have known that my partner was my partner, but as long as they don’t have to actually acknowledge it, they can remain civil.

          1. LS*

            Thanks. Half my water aerobics class is ostentatiously not speaking to me (they’re mostly older than me, but I’m no spring chicken myself) and it’s weirdly hurtful even though I don’t particularly have anything to say to them.

      2. Seth*

        CATHERINE – That’s a good point, about the co-worker being *their* co-worker that affected the situation. I still think it wasn’t the only factor making them angry, though. I didn’t say anything about her being obligated to reveal any information. What I said was if she was in a position to correct them and didn’t, that’s not going to be perceived well. If someone’s husband died and they didn’t tell their co-workers, and their co-workers kept asking about the guy and they never said anything, sure they’re not obligated to reveal that information – but not correcting them will also be perceived poorly.

        And yes, all cards had the old boyfriend’s name on them – not sure about the cake.

        CHELL – I’m homophobic and judgmental because I suggest there might be another conclusion than the one the letter writer made made without any solid evidence? That is why they’re writing in, after all – they’re unsure of the situation and how they should handle it.

        I think it’s dangerous to place the letter writers here on a pedestal and suggest that the commenters can’t give an opinion without getting accused of being judgmental and victim blaming. Otherwise, every comment will just be, “Yes, do exactly what Alison suggests.”

        1. Bird*

          I don’t read Chell’s comment as calling you homophobic, just that the situation you mention (out-of-the-blue homophobia) is, in many queer people’s experience, not as uncommon as you might think.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Exactly. In my experience at least, “out of the blue” homophobia is more common than people randomly being homophobic when they think there’s no context to it. None of my coworkers at FirstJob said anything homophobic until we got an openly gay manager. After that — phew. I’m just glad I played the pronoun game from day one there.

          2. LBK*

            Yeah, that is what literally every queer person ever has done at some point in their lives. I actually chuckled at Seth’s comment – “come on, you’r really telling you managed to just NEVER mention that your partner was female?” Uh, yup. That is extremely normal for queer people to learn to do.

            1. Annabelle*

              Yeah, I’ve only ever been out at two jobs. I was still at my old job when my wife and I got engaged and barely anyone knew.

            2. Bird*

              Oh absolutely! I’ve managed to dance around that particular disclosure for literal years! Answering direct questions! While wearing an (obvious) engagement ring! I’ve gotten very creative about it when I don’t quite feel safe.

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                You didn’t say that in so many words. What you did do, itentionally or not, was convey a complete lack of comprehension of something that lgbtq people have to deal with all the time (i.e., staying in the closet with people they see regularly for long oeriods of time when they don’t feel safe doing otherwise) alomg with a skepticism that such a thing is even possible. Which, honestly, is kind of insulting to the o.p.

                I’m not saying you meant your comments that way; however, how we mean things can be quite different from how others are affected by our words.

                1. Seth*

                  You misunderstod. I was asking if and believing it was likely that the opposite was true – that they *did* manage to never state that their partner was a woman.

                  It’s not surprising to me that she could do that, or that others do that regularly. Me asking if she hid, or lied about, the gender doesn’t seem like a longshot to me, isn’t something I’ve never witnessed before, etc.

                  Many commenters saw my question and for some reason assumed that I wasn’t prepared for the answer to be yes. “Yes” was my assumption after reading the letter and trying to work out why the secretary may have stopped talking to the Letter Writer. But I wasn’t assuming that was the case, so I asked a letter to clarify whether this may have happened (lying about the pronouns) and the responses are all, “Of COURSE we all do that!”

                  So now even though I’ve become the villain of the thread for not making an assumption, I’m much more inclined to think of the reason I suggested as the likely cause of this. I’m looking forward to an update someday to hear if the Letter Writer actually got more information on the issue and possibly resolved it.

        2. WellRed*

          We are supposed to take them at their word and the LW says she does’nt talk personal stuff. And your friend, wow.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yeah, your friend is really weird.

            We had a situation where someone who works with my husband hadn’t mentioned getting divorced and starting to date a former coworker. When they wound up intersecting at a school event she told my husband afterward, so he would know how much she was comfortable having Out At Work. (His assumption had been that everyone but himself and the other senior scientist had known–they both tend not to notice non-lab things–so it was good that she reached out.) Some offices have extensive discussion of their dating lives; some have a vague notion who’s married or has kids.

        3. Alton*

          I don’t think you’re being homophobic, but I do think it’s important to consider context. A queer person who tries to avoid talking about their personal life or who doesn’t correct people when they assume that they’re straight may not feel safe or comfortable coming out. There are risks that a queer person faces that a straight person generally won’t face. So it can be hurtful when someone takes it very personally that you didn’t come out to them sooner. It can feel like they don’t really understand how intimidating it can be to come out/be out. And this is a professional situation–the secretary isn’t the OP’s beloved sister who she usually shares everything with. The secretary isn’t really “owed” a coming out.

          1. Oliver*


            Based on the LW’s description, it sounds like people in their office don’t really know anything about each others’ personal lives, beyond maybe a vague “so-and-so is single” or “so-and-so has a partner.” If the secretary just assumed LW was straight and then found out she wasn’t, that’s not a betrayal. It’s just a situation in which you find out something new about a person. Example: I have a coworker whom I later found out was a grandmother. I’d assumed her kids were younger than they were based on her, relatively young, age, but I was wrong. I wasn’t owed information about her grandma status, nor was having new information about my coworker’s personal life some kind of problem for me.

            Of course, some people feel entitled to know who’s queer and who’s not. But in that case the problem is on them to deal with any entitlement and discomfort. Queer people aren’t being deceptive by not revealing the details of their sexuality to everyone they meet.

          2. LBK*

            Everybody please just go see Love, Simon. I know people have issues with that movie but it gets so many things right about the coming out experience, including emphasizing that someone coming out to you and the way they choose to do it is not about you.

              1. LBK*

                I’ve heard some people question whether it’s “necessary” (I guess because we had Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, so gay representation is solved?) but more frequently, that it’s too sanitized and that people can’t relate to it because it wasn’t like their experience. Personally, I think we’ve had enough sad, depressing gay movies, so it was a relief to have one where the message didn’t seem to be “being gay sucks”.

                1. Not a Morning Person*

                  That is so weird to me. “Is it necessary?”
                  “Is another movie about (insert every topic ever) necessary?”
                  I can’t even….

          3. many bells down*

            A friend of mine is currently planning his wedding, and he says it’s like he has to come out all over again 5 times a day whenever the wedding’s mentioned.
            “Fiancee? How long have you been dating her? I bet she’s lovely!”
            “Fiance. Man. Named Jock. Because I am gay.”

        4. Marthooh*

          Seth – Maybe you should reread your own comments? It does kind of sound like you’re saying “Hey LW perhaps you inadvertantly did something SO EGREGIOUS that you deserve not to be spoken to!”

          1. Seth*

            Okay, I re-read my own comments three times now. I don’t see that – not the idea of “deserve”.

            You can cause something without deserving the results. It’s not the same thing.

      3. Thing1*

        Totally agreed that it can be obvious that you’re in a relationship without using any pronouns. Especially in an environment that doesn’t talk a lot about personal lives. One reference to, “we moved last year,” or “I’m leaving early, I have to take our dog to the vet,” or “What are you doing for Christmas?” “Oh, we’re going to Florida,”, and it’s really obvious that you’re part of a couple. In my experience, that often doesn’t lead to follow-up questions, especially in a relatively formal environment that doesn’t share much. I don’t hide my wife’s gender at all (I even have one of our engagement photos on my desk), but there are definitely people who don’t know for a while, because the pronoun doesn’t always come up right away.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          I’ve managed to do it speaking in my native/main language (Spanish) which is gendered. It’s not that uncommon, especially around people I’m not comfortable revealing my sexuality to.

    3. STG*

      I work in law enforcement which tends to attract conservatives and I’m gay. People here know that I’m in a relationship but I don’t think many (if any at all) know that I’m gay. I’m under no obligation ethically to make sure they understand the intricacies of my relationship.

    4. Mookie*

      Seth, speaking as a lesbian, yes: a lot of us and our LGBTQ brethren have spent a lifetime carefully choreographing our end of these conversations to protect our privacy, hedging our language, heading off tangents we can anticipate, managing exits to escape accidental disclosure, pausing to “edit” pronouns, and so forth. Your skepticism is noted, but you don’t really appear to know what you’re talking about here. So, I’m glad you asked because now you know. It is nothing like your friend and her heterosexual relationship with much less at stake if revealed.

      As for the secretary’s wounded feelings because the LW deceived her: that is not a profitable line of inquiry because the secretary is not owed any truth in this area, and she’s still behaving badly, besides.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Right, since when is any coworker entitled to any information more personal than your PTO calendar*?

        *not reasons for PTO, just dates

      2. Anon because this might be too identifying*

        And if you’ve never noticed that careful choreography, it doesn’t mean no one in your life is doing it. It just means they’re good at it.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


          “No one I know does that!” Very often means “No one I know has revealed this to me (and there’s probably a reason for that).”

          1. Artemesia*

            Oh exactly. I grew up in the 50s when there were no gay people. I had colleagues in the 60s who were gay but it was never openly acknowledged, and colleagues in the 80s and 90s, same thing. I assumed they were gay but it was not openly acknowledged. I now in the last 30 years have known several transgender individuals in my own wider circle (parent of one of my scout troop kids, husband of one of my kids SILs, friend of one of my kids) and know quite a few people who are openly gay. Legalization of marriage has made this also much more visible. I assume there were always roughly the same number of gay people in my world as there are now, but the oppression in the 50s, 60s etc meant they were forced to be invisible to most people. There is a new American opera. ‘Fellow traveler’ which deals with the ‘lavender scare’ during the McCarthy era; very powerful stuff about what it had meant in our history to be gay. This is such a positive change in our culture; I am always surprised that not everyone sees it that way.

            1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

              The first conversation I remember that dealt with the issue must’ve been when I was about 9 or 10, so early 80s. I knew what “gay” was, and that most people (in our tiny little southern town) strenuously objected to it. My grandma was active in community theater in [midsize northeastern city of her birth] in the 30s, and often played opposite a young man who became a very good friend of hers. She told me, “He was gay, everybody knew it, and everybody pretended they didn’t. I was the only person he talked to about his relationship. I thought things would be better by now.”

              That made a powerful impression on me. Grandma didn’t get to see gay marriage, but she did witness the “We’re Here, We’re Queer” movement of the 90s and thought it was awesome.

        2. Seth*

          I guess that’s possible. I’ve noticed it many times in work situations. Sadly it’s usually painfully obvious, and a group of people who are aching to be supportive have to continue pretending that awkward rephrasings of questions in responses are natural, even when they defy all logic and grammar.

          Please don’t re-explain to my why this happens. I get why.

    5. Temperance*

      Yeah, if someone is that overly sensitive about not being told that a person has a same-sex partner, I’m going to assume that they’re homophobic. Otherwise, who cares.

      The situation you cite here is weird and different.

      1. Seth*

        You’ve rejiggered my response to make it something else. That’s not what I was saying and I don’t believe you really think I meant the secretary might have felt specifically deceived about the same sexness of the partner because of homophobia/sexual preference. I was clear in my suggestion is that it may simply the fact that the Letter Writer has been implying that she was dating a man when she wasn’t.

          1. Seth*

            Because if they claimed previously to be dating a man and actually weren’t, the secretary will have felt lied to.

            If someone claims to have a child and talks about the child all the time, and the co-workers find out later that there is no child, you can’t just say, “Why would she care that he didn’t have a child? It’s not her business!”

            1. Observer*

              OK, but there is absolutely NO indication that the OP actually claimed to be in a relationship with a man – and the environment described is the kind of place where it should be fairly easy to avoid that kind of thing.

              Your friend, on the other hand, DID somewhat lie to people. Allowing people to actually make cards with the wrong name on it really is a lie of omission. In a casual conversation “Dave” vs “Joe” might be the kind of thing that slips by and “I didn’t want to make a big production.” But the party and cards are whole different level.

              1. Seth*

                I only included my friend’s story as an example of someone intentionally letting someone believe in a relationship that wasn’t real, while telling something they weren’t lying. Forget the specifics.

                “There’s absolutely no indication…” – Yes, that’s why I asked if there was. I didn’t want to assume. I do think it’s pretty near impossible to talk to three people five days a week and always avoid the specifics without outright lying about them. But I did ask.

                1. Observer*

                  That’s a huge stretch. Your friend’s situation is so different than what the OP describes that you really CANNOT call it an example of something that is relevant.

                  Letting someone believe something that they made up with no help from you, which you have never discussed with them and which does not affect them, is VERY different from “letting” someone believe something that you gave them clues to, that you HAVE discussed with your them and which DOES affect them. Totally different situations.

                  You are putting WAY to much responsibility on the OP here. Like I said, if the assistant really DOES feel betrayed, that’s TOTALLY on her. There is nothing here that is the OP’s responsibility.

    6. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

      1) I think your friend’s situation isn’t comparable mainly because her work environment was close and personal enough to throw an engagement party for her. LW’s workplace doesn’t sound like that.

      2) As a coworker, and especially a subordinate, she has no right to know these things about LW, particularly as they don’t relate to the job and LW hasn’t entangled any work affairs with her personal life. They are not close family or friends where “””betrayal””” would be warranted.

      3) Many commenters have mentioned the complexities of being closeted or semi-closeted at the workplace, which I second/third/etc. The thing is, even if secretary was a loud and dedicated ally and this is just a case of hurt feelings, secretary should check herself. She should know her workplace boundaries. And if she is an ally, she should also understand coming out is fraught and not obligated of LW (especially since see above) I remember not coming out to people who I KNEW were safe and okay because it limited any potential info leakage to people who could be NOT safe. It’s a risky game to play and it’s better to hedge your bets by just revealing old news later (or never) than risk being unsafe, especially if your professional life is involved.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        Good point about being less forthcoming even with close relationships. What those individuals might reveal could have unintended consequences. It’s a hard thing to navigate.

    7. CanCan*

      I think it’s possible to talk about your personal life without giving away or hiding your significant other’s sex. One of my coworkers always says “spouse” about his significant other, which gave me no clue because sometimes people use “spouse” when they don’t want to say “wife” – because they’re not actually married, or “girlfriend” – because they’re in a long-term relationship, and girlfriend sometimes suggests something recent or less stable. Well it was all revealed when I asked him if his “wife” had to wear a skirt when they were on a cruise in Saudi Arabia! Turning slightly redder than usual, he said: “No, and it would have been rather odd, since my wife is a man.”

      I’ve also almost made the opposite mistake before, when a woman kept referring to her “partner,” so I thought it might be a woman and avoided all gendered language. Until finally she introduced me to James.

      1. LS*

        I’m Australian, and here “partner” is the most common word for your spouse, whatever gender, whether you are actually married or not, which makes it easier to avoid coming out when you don’t want to, but also leads to a lot of conversations like the one you mention!

    8. Half-Caf Latte*

      No, these are not the same thing. At all.

      LW had kept the details of her private life private, which is generally her prerogative, but doubly so when exposing those details can lead to harm.

      Your friend engaged in deceit by omission in order to avoid workplace repurcussions for something that was NOT ALLOWED AT WORK while reaping the benefits of that omission (generous shower, etc).

    9. fish*

      Did you say things like, “We went out to dinner” or “We visited my family”? And if so, did they ask questions or make statements like, “What did he order? or “What did ____ think of your family?” Did you not correct them on the pronoun? Did you never mention a name, and did they never ask? That seems very unlikely.

      That sounds exactly like the reality of making small talk while hiding that you’re queer. I mean, I actually read this and had to step away for a while and think about how to make a non-angry reply. This is so oblivious I can’t even.

      1. fish*

        Addition to the above: I was able to recognise (and make friends with) another queer woman at work by realising she was doing the same careful dance of referring to her partner as “my spouse”, “they” etc. No straight people noticed — when she eventually came out publically everyone else was incredibly surprised. But as a queer person navigating an unfriendly world — this is not in the least bit unlikely, or uncommon. It’s how we survive.

        1. Relly*

          I once realized a massage therapist was playing the pronoun game in talking about her recent break up. I kept all of my comments gender neutral as I sympathized, which must have reassured her, because after a while she started using “she.”

        2. Seth*

          I’m not sure why me asking if the situation was handled that way makes me oblivious and made you so angry. I’ve been part of those conversations many times. This is why I asked. I don’t think it’s uncommon.

          I’m not surprised people handle things this way. I understand self-protection. But I do think it’s not going over peoples’ heads as often as you may think.

          There’s a general assumption (hopefully changing) that a woman, if she’s married, is married to a man and a man, if he’s married, is married to a woman. On a board like this one I feel like I have to be blatant in saying I don’t think that’s right, but that is the general thinking. If someone asks a woman about her husband and she responds substituting “spouse” or “they”, please understand that that doesn’t go unnoticed by most people. We get what’s happening and often politely pretend not to notice. Just as you noticed it with your co-worker.

    10. Specialk9*

      That sounds like a big stretch here. Occam’s Razor says that’s not likely the answer.

      1. Seth*

        I’m not saying it’s the most likely cause, but it’s quite possible. It’s not a big stretch. If you’re calling someone out on a blog (anonymously, of course) for possibly being homophobic while asking for advice on confronting them about their actions and there’s another possible cause, that should be considered beforehand.

        Don’t forget – Alison suggested a coincidence in timing as a possible cause as the possible reason. If you’re using Occam’s Razor on my suggestion, you must really want to use it on the idea of a coincidence. I mean, that’s the real big stretch.

        1. Observer*

          If you are right, though, it’s WILDLY out of line. There is nothing to indicate that the OP actually LIED about her SO. For anyone to feel “betrayed” that someone didn’t actually share this information? That’s beyond ridiculous.

          1. Seth*

            I keep reading the comments that there’s no evidence. I can’t quite understand where this line of thinking comes from.

            There’s no evidence, yes. But there is life, and in life when people ask you questions about your significant other, those questions almost always going to have a gender attached.

            I’ve given a couple other examples in other responses. I don’t think, even in a not-very-intimate office environment, that a person can outright avoid correcting those gendered responses without looking like they’re giving tacit approval.

            Put more simply, if someone asks you what you and your boyfriend did over the weekend for a month and you never correct them, and then later they find out your boyfriend is a girlfriend (or wife is a husband, or whatever), it won’t go over well.

            And while to some of those people, the sexual preference factor may be a problem, for others it will simply be the fact that their co-worker let them believe something untrue that will make them unhappy.

            Again, there’s no evidence for this. I suggested an alternate possible cause (as did Alison) for the silent treatment other than the idea that the secretary hates queer people (which there was also no evidence for) – I think this is a much better way to approach things than to make an assumption and possibly an accusation.

            I will point out that I asked a question, and many people here jumped down my throat for asking it because there is “no evidence” for it in the original letter. And yet others commented that “of course” we change genders and avoid correcting people – saying basically “that’s how we survive day-to-day life in an office”.

            So in the same thread I’m virtually yelled at for asking questions (and not making assumptions) about the situation as well as being called “oblivious” to how queer people behave, because by asking those questions people assumed I would have been surprised to hear a yes to the idea that genders are ignored and not corrected.

            This thread has been somewhat stressful.

  12. Gwen Soul*

    The only time I paid any attention to the endorsements was for myself. Randomly my boss endorsed my project management skills as did a few coworkers. It won’t mean anything to anyone else, but it felt good that they acknowledged it in some semi-public way (although with my boss I knew he was happy with me already, just a nice gesture)

  13. Gerry*

    #5 : I don’t endorse anybody unless I am absolutely convinced they perform the skill, and I do not accept endorsements from people who have no way of knowing whether I can do what they claim. That said, I recently connected with someone who immediately started endorsing me for skills and told me that it would increase my SEO, which I can sort of see, but still ….

    If I really like someone’s work, I will take the time to write a real recommendation, explaining what I like about the person’s work and how I know this. Taking the time to write a recommendation means something. Pushing a button means nothing.

    1. CanCan*

      LinkedIn suggests endorsements based on keywords in your profile, and gets them quite wrong. Before turning off this feature, I’ve been endorsed for all kinds of skills I do not have (particular areas of law that I’ve only barely touched on when starting out my legal career) by people who have no idea what I actually do. And being nice, I’ve endorsed people back – for skills that I don’t know if they have.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      Four on Friday is the general trend. It makes me sad too, but gives Alison a bit of a break.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I also did it earlier this week and no one noticed (or at least commented), which gave me a glimpse into a possible new future for me :)

        1. Myrin*

          Ha, I noticed and briefly checked that it wasn’t Friday already, but then promptly forgot about it. ;)

        2. essEss*

          I noticed and kept coming back later in the day to refresh my page in hopes of a new question, but I didn’t comment/complain on it. Since I don’t actually pay to use the site, I get to read however many you choose to put up without any real excuse to complain about it. :-D

        3. Sylvan*

          I could be wrong, but didn’t the short answer posts start off with different numbers of questions?

        4. Kathenus*

          If the number of questions was more random, then you’d have the flexibility to vary them without people having an expectation of a certain amount. Just a thought to make your job a little easier :)

      1. TheNotoriousMCG*

        Man, never noticed it until today and it still said five in the tag line at the top. I goofed!

  14. Super Anon Today*

    OP3: +1 on checking your bylaws. I’m on the exec board of a nonprofit and we removed an elected officer for similar reasons to what you’re describing here. We cited specific instances where the officer was not fulfilling the responsibilities of her position and had the required number of affirmative votes from the board. However, you will have to consider the political blowback from your voting membership. What is their overall opinion of the president? Obviously they aren’t privy to the operating details, but if she has powerful allies or sponsors that can sway voting membership’s opinions in future elections, be prepared to defend your decisions.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t do what’s right for the organization, quite the opposite in fact! Just know that this may not wrap up nicely, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you believe to be the right thing for your organization.

  15. MM*

    OP 2 – not good and I agree you may need to clear the air with the Secretary. Your life is your life and you deserve to live it with the most happiness you can (and screw anyone who makes moral judgements upon you)

    I have to admit, had I read Alison’s comments a few weeks ago, I might have been a bit sceptical on the whole ‘she might have something else going on thing’ however I got back from Easter and am in a really nice workplace but the people do have a tendency to overshare what they got up to on the break and thought I had been shirty with them when I replied to them that I had had a quiet weekend catching up with friends and family (all true). I deflected all further comments as part of that weekend was having to tell my Mum her cancer had metastasised (not a shock to her honestly, she is in her late 80s) and dealing with the family fallout. Plus catching up with friends.

    Part of me didn’t want to bring my colleagues down with our bad luck but also we are a very private family while being intensely supportive of each other. I got chipped for this but just shrugged it off. You just never know.

    I’d give it a wee while, it may also be that Secretary has never actually known anyone who is queer before and is scrambling and not knowing what to do or what to say. It could be Secretary is a bigot (I sincerely hope not) but it augurs well your work is still being done. Whatever the case, I hope it works out really well for you and if you see the situation slip from work getting done to disrespect or obstruction in the interim, speak up and if needs be start looking for another job if it looks like your workplace is not going to give you the srespect and support you deserve.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      If it turns out the secretary really is giving her the silent treatment (ugh, so middle school) because of the girlfriend… “my secretary” implies that OP has some authority over her, so presumably OP should fire her if she won’t cut this crap out, not look for another job herself.

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Uhhh… no. Secretary does not get a wee while. Secretary has already used up all her refusing to talk to her boss because of homophobia time. Which should be exactly zero time. Secretary needs a talking to about how this is a job and at your job you do not get to decide not to talk to your boss. Then secretary needs to treat her boss like a normal person. And if Secretary cannot do that she should be fired. She doesn’t deserve any adjustment time at all. She can do and say exactly what she would have done and said when she thought her boss was straight.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        It could very well be homophobia (and probably is), but I think it’s best to not jump straight to that.

    3. Alton*

      I’m really sorry about your mother. But honestly, I wouldn’t consider saying that you had a quiet weekend with family/friends to be “under”-sharing or being shirty regardless. Are your co-workers not aware that not everyone even celebrates Easter?

      With regards to the secretary, it’s possible that she is uncomfortable because she hasn’t interacted with LGBTQ people much before, but that’s not really an excuse and it doesn’t make things better for the OP. I’ll never forget one time in a college class where I mentioned being queer when we were having a class discussion related to sexuality. The girl who sat next to me honestly seemed *afraid* of me for a while after that. Like, she was visibly afraid to talk to me if she had questions about something we went over in class. I don’t think she was a hateful person, and I kind of felt bad for her, but it was still a very awkward and hurtful experience for me, and the fact that her reaction was fear and not hatred didn’t make it less homophobic.

      1. BananaRama*

        I don’t celebrate Easter and my family lives a distance away, nor are we very close, though I did call. When people asked what I did for Easter, I said, truthfully, “I made fajitas.” I got the weirdest looks from co-workers.

        I agree with others that it’s possible the secretary doesn’t quite know how to act and doesn’t realize she need not treat LGBTQ+ folks like they are somehow a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater. Hence why Alison’s script is good, it leaves opening to find out if the silence is due to fear or bigotry.

    4. Lily*

      I once heard from another queer person that you should always make up the most flattering reason when someone is treating you strange because of it. So maybe the secretary has a crush on her boss, previously talked herself out of it “because boss is straight, no chance ” and now tries awkwardly to get over it?

      1. Delphine*

        I can’t speak for the person you heard this from, but that technique is what marginalized people use for their own mental health. It can be so demoralizing and draining to have to experience bigotry regularly. To survive, you sometimes have to pretend that there are flattering reasons for the way people are treating you. But it’s for us, not for them–I don’t think we need to bend over backwards coming up with outlandish reasons for the secretary’s behavior if the LW feels that it’s probably because the secretary now knows the LW is queer. We can trust the LW’s instincts, and Alison’s script gives the secretary an opening if it turns out she’s not homophobic.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          I like to assume the best of people, in every circumstance, for my own mental health. Not just when I think they’re being homophobic scum, but any time someone is rude or drives badly or whatever. There’s a nice quote around here somewhere about “Everyone is fighting a battle” and that helps me not take on other people’s anger/crap.

          (Now, when someone is very clearly being personal at me, I handle it very differently indeed.)

          (And I still laugh at the time that I called the sherriff on some neighbors for fighting so loudly that their baby was screaming — and we didn’t have any shared walls at all — and later that week one of them yelled “DYKE” at me (as she climbed her stairs away from me) … and it took me a minute to realize that she thought she was insulting me. Truly! I can be a little clueless sometimes and this is one time that it worked in my favor. I mean, I was angry too so her anger didn’t touch me and her “insult” was just a statement of fact.)

  16. Viki*

    If the retreat is once a year, this is something you just suck up. There is a yearly retreat for all the interns and first year employees with the CEO and some high level managers at the company my partner has been working at for over ten years. It’s a Friday-Saturday thing, and while not a lot of people want to go and have to “work” on a Saturday, if you’re with the company, you go for the first year and never again.

    It’s considered both a rite of passage for being with the company, and you get to meet some high ranking people out of the office, doing high ropes or whatever they do. Asking to skip that would come across as insensitive to the company culture and not in line with what the company wants.

    My point being, if this is the only retreat every year, asking to switch the date/ asking to be excluded can come over tonedeaf to company culture.

  17. Half-Caf Latte*

    Op #2, I’m seeing lots of Occam’s Paisley Tie type comments here. I think the conclusion you’ve come to is reasonable and not unlikely, and I think Alison’s script makes sense.

    I hope your secretary gets over herself, or you find a new one.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Occam’s Paisley Tie is an appropriate form of social lubricant; that’s why Alison’s script starts with it. Just because something is most likely X–and it’s a bad X–doesn’t mean it will be X every time and so you won’t pay any penalties (with other people, or with your own dignity) when it turns out this time is was Y.

      It’s also a heads-up to people doing X that something a) has been noticed, and b) is unacceptable. By offering them a paisley tie to affix as a fig leaf as they mutter about “um, yes, mumble Y, won’t happen again,” they have a chance to scramble out of it without a public shaming for being a Bad Person. Which tends to make the office smoother.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        It’s fine for the situation. In the comment section here, it’s much more uncomfortable. A lot of people are second-guessing the OP’s assessment.

        1. Myrin*

          I just went through literally every comment on the topic and the only person who’s second-guessing OP’s assessment (although in a very different manner from what you’d expect) is Seth (and maybe RO-Cat who suggests the secretary might have a crush on the OP, although he doesn’t seem second-guessy to me, just pondering). By “[a] lot of people”, do you mean those who leave room for there possibly being a different reason for the secretary’s behaviour as well? Because otherwise I’m not really sure what you’re referring to.

            1. Myrin*

              Those weren’t there when I wrote my comment. But again, that’s not “a lot”.
              I mean, the fact that I’m even answering makes it seem like I’m hugely invested in this when I’m really not, but I very much don’t like the thing I see not just on this site, but on basically every site I visit and very often IRL too where people say “the majority of X say Y” and then you have like… four people out of a hundred saying something. Doesn’t mean those four aren’t still wrong and should be adressed but I don’t like when arguments don’t have a solid and often even outright wrong basis.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                The fact that you’re counting makes you seem pretty invested in trying to argue that there’s only an acceptable amount of OPT going on, yeah.

                1. Myrin*

                  I didn’t count, that was just two random numbers I thought of at the moment. I observed the general trends in these threads and felt like they were adequately expressed through my made-up numbers nonetheless. And I don’t know what OPT mean, I’m afraid.

              2. embertine*

                We can go back and forth over whether you believe four people demonstrating the exact same behaviour that happens whenever anyone tries to speak up about discrimination is a “lot”. Technically, you’re right: 4% of people is not even approaching half! It’s a relatively small minority! But please bear in mind that this is not a statistics class, and people who are harmed by this are not assessing it just in terms of sheer numbers, but in the relative damage it does and the likelihood of it occurring in every such discussion at least once. I too like arguments to have a sound footing but sometimes compassion and empathy are more important than mathematical exactitude.

                1. Myrin*

                  You’re speaking as if I don’t know that – both from personal experience (I’m queer myself) and from observing that kind of argumentation whenever it unfolds. Which, I mean, you don’t know me so that’s understandable. And as I said, I’m always in favour of adressing this kind of behaviour. However, I was responding specifically to the assertion that there’s “lots of Occam’s Paisley Tie type comments” in this very comment section because I felt that there were actually almost only very helpful and reasonable commments with regards to this letter here today, which actually stood out to me as very positive and pleasant.

                2. Jennifer Thneed*

                  @ Myrin Welcome to the club of people who are queer but you can’t tell from our typing unless we spill personal details all the time (like I do — being gay-married is helpful that way).

                  Me, I would really like to know how many people second-guessing are, themselves, queer of any flavor. (I have my suspicions and they are not complimentary.) I mean, don’t we agree around here to believe what LW’s tell us?

      2. LBK*

        But people are contradicting Alison’s advice suggesting that the OP doesn’t really know what’s going on, so she should give the secretary more time or just ignore it or whatever else. There’s no need to do that because Alison’s advice already builds in an opening for the secretary to offer another explanation – it already starts with not assuming the actions are motivated by homophobia, or at least not explicitly calling them out as such.

        I haven’t seen anyone suggest the OP directly confront the secretary about her suspicions, so comments calling to give her the benefit of the doubt seem like a strawman; raising the issue the way Alison suggests is already giving her the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Myrin*

          Okay, now I really feel like I must be blind or something – where are these “people […] contradicting Alison’s advice” and “calling to give [secretary] the benefit of the doubt”?

          As I’m writing this, there are four threads on the second letter in this comment section (plus two standalone comments at the very bottom):
          – one was started by me where I said I like Alison’s script because it does allow for the possibility that something else might be going on (though I don’t think it is) and that it’s very neutral and practicality-focused and basically all replies to it were phrased in the same vein
          – the second one was started by MommyMD and devolved into a bit of a monster about prejudice towards American regions with regards to their progressivity (and little subthreads about private schools, the expression “queer”, and RO-Cat’s “heartbroken” comment I mentioned above)
          – the third one starts with MM who is the only person I see suggesting to give the secretary “time”; replies have already disagreed with her
          – the last one was started by Seth, who comes at it from a new angle entirely, and as far as I can see, all replies actually disagree with him and explain how his viewpoint is clearly that of an outsider

          I hope I don’t come across as nitpicker extraordinaire with this but I feel like this is one of the cases we see sometimes here, where we kind of get stuck on something literally one comment said and then somehow feel like it’s everywhere when in fact, it’s really not.

          1. Eye of Sauron*

            I’m also curious why, for this letter, it’s not ok for someone to disagree with Allison or offer a different perspective when it’s done all the time in other letters.

            Oddly I find the comments here today very snippy.

            I’ve always found the alternate points of view or possibilities to be helpful. I mean what if the LW uses the script and the secretary comes back with “what? I don’t care who you’re dating. I stopped talking to you because you yelled at me/gave me a crappy recognition cup/forgot my birthday.”

            To me the most likely scenario is that the secretary is either A) weirded out that she just discovered something she didn’t know about her coworker/boss and doesn’t know if she should act or do anything differently or B) she hates queer people with the fire of a 1000 suns.

            But whatever the outcome of the discussion it doesn’t hurt for the LW to prepare herself for either a legitimate alternative or and obvious and untrue denial during the conversation.

            1. LBK*

              I mean what if the LW uses the script and the secretary comes back with “what? I don’t care who you’re dating. I stopped talking to you because you yelled at me/gave me a crappy recognition cup/forgot my birthday.”

              Alison’s script makes absolutely no mention of the OP’s suspicion that homophobia is causing the issue, so why on earth would the secretary reply that way? That’s exactly what I’m saying – maybe I’m blowing the volume out of proportion, but there are definitely comments that appear to contradict advice Alison didn’t actually give.

            2. McWhadden*

              What script are you reading? WHERE are you seeing that the OP should call her a homophobe right off the bat?

              “I’ve noticed that you’ve barely spoken to me in the last month. Is everything okay?”

              “This is the type of job that does require us to be able to work together comfortably. If I’ve done something that’s getting in the way of that, I’d want to know so that we can resolve it. But this isn’t the sort of job where we’ll be productive together without speaking. I’m hoping we can return to the comfort level we seemed to have previously. If you can’t do that, we’ll need to talk about it and figure out where to go from here.”

            3. Delphine*

              Queer and marginalized people are always offered a “different perspective” for why people are treating them differently/badly. It’s okay to trust the LW’s instincts here that this is because the secretary might be uncomfortable with her sexuality–Alison’s advice doesn’t question the legitimacy of LW’s experiences, but still offers the secretary an out in case this has nothing to do with LW’s orientation.

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                Thank you.

                Don’t we usually agree to trust what the LW’s report? Why not here?

                1. Seth*

                  Because she’s unsure of the reason for the secretary’s action. That’s why she wrote a letter asking for advice.

            4. Falling Diphthong*

              I’ve always found the alternate points of view or possibilities to be helpful.

              This! So often someone will come up with an explanation that fits the facts that I hadn’t thought of. I don’t want to discourage people from doing that.

              It’s the same reason diversity of viewpoints in the workplace is good–so you don’t get into “Well we all agree about everything, the explanation is always the obvious thing, any exceptions are A Vast Conspiracy Against Us. By Them.”

              1. LBK*

                You want a diverse voice at the table so when a bunch of straight people are saying “Life isn’t really like that for gay people,” you have a gay person who can say “That happens all the time in my real, actual gay life.” If you’re just going to question that person and press your own perception on them anyway, why’d you bother inviting them to the table?

              2. McWhadden*

                Yes, the reason for diversity is definitely for straight people to tell queer people the problem is probably them.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I feel like it should be mundane to observe, “People act differently for a variety of reasons. Often, your first guess as to a reason was right. But social interactions are smoother if you act like you are allowing for the possibility that it might be something else.” (Both because it might be, even if it seems unlikely, and because it allows some face saving as they realize they haven’t been passing under the radar. Like asking someone to explain that joke you Just Don’t Understand.)

                  That doesn’t translate to “No WAY that ever happens.”

                2. LBK*

                  It’s just frustrating when straight people think they’re telling queer people something they don’t know when they suggest that not everyone is a homophobe.

              3. Leslie knope*

                This is a really bad example. Homophobia and other systemic discrimination’s whole MO is that it can be enough of a microaggression that people sound like they are being paranoid or dramatic – that’s how it ensures people stay oppressed, because no one believes them.

          2. Seth*

            Thanks for summing this up, Myrin. I’ve read many of the comments. It’s disheartening to see such a mob mentality here. This comment section isn’t as supportive as I initially thought it was. It’s supportive for those who agree with Alison.

            Alison’s advice includes this line: “Who knows — maybe the timing is a coincidence and she’s actually been quiet because she’s going through something rough that you don’t know about, so give her the chance to explain.”

            For all the comments I’ve read, I don’t see anyone jumping down Alison’s throat because she suggested that the cause of the secretary’s new quietness just *might* not be due to homophobia. Why not? Because she runs this blog? Because she’s a woman?

            Alison is suggesting a cause less likely than I suggested – a coincidence. I suggested that the secretary might not be homophobic but rather felt deceived by the Letter Writer’s girlfriend’s gender if she never corrected her co-workers when they misused pronouns. This still seems very likely to me.

            I’ll also add that I read many comments that co-workers are not “owed” or “entitled to” the Letter Writer’s significant other’s gender. I agree – they’re not. I never said they were. But if a Monday morning conversation went like this:

            Co-Worker: “What did you and your boyfriend do this weekend?”
            Letter Writer: “We saw a movie.”
            Co-Worker: “Did he like it?”
            Letter Writer: “We both did.”

            Then that’s going to by taken as deception by some people. Letter Writer had the chance to correct them, but didn’t. She didn’t lie outright, but it’s a lie by omission.

            I get all the points about safety, coming out, your rights to privacy, etc. – but some people, at least, are going to feel deceived if/when they find out that the boyfriend is a girlfriend and it was intentionally never corrected. And at least some of that group of people could care less about sexual orientation and will just plain feel like they were lied to, and they won’t understand why.

            That’s the point I was trying to make. I’m not prescribing different actions for the Letter Writer or anyone in a similar situation, I’m not excusing those who are outright homophobic – I’m attempting to explain one possible scenario for why this incident may have happened.

            1. meat lord*

              The fact that you are willing to stand by “feeling lied to because someone did not explicitly tell you they were in a same-sex relationship” as an explanation for a month of the silent treatment bums me out. Even if the secretary is so self-centered as to feel deceived by LW’s caution/discretion, she’d be taking it to a truly wacky level with a month of the silent treatment. And the thing that really confuses me is that you seem to think that she’s justified in feeling deceived. Is that what you mean to convey, or is this a matter of tone coming across poorly in text.

              1. meat lord*

                Disregard my above comment- you actually answered what I was trying to ask. The tone of most of your other comments was… pretty different.

                1. Seth*

                  Thank you. There’s a feeling I get here that if you ever criticize the behavior of a letter writer who’s part of any marginalized group without coming out and saying “Oh but I’m not racist!” or “I’m not sexist!” or “I’m not homophobic!”, commenters will delight in tearing you apart (and some will tell you that you are those things anyway). And I find that approach cowardly.

                  People who write in here are looking for Alison’s advice but they know that her advice comes with a healthy and opinionated comment section. If commenters can’t give alternate views of a situation without getting attacked and accused of bigotry and obliviousness, there’s no point in allowing comments. Opinions are diverse.

              2. meat lord*

                Alison, could you please delete my comments here if possible? I feel like I went off half-cocked. I don’t particularly care for the way Seth approached making his point elsewhere in the thread, but he definitely isn’t doing what I thought he was, and his comment answers my question. Thanks.

    2. Rae*

      OMG I just looked up “Occam’s Paisley Tie” and that is incredible. Why did I not know that phrase??

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Same! I’ve learned 2 new things today, I think that means I can go home, right?

        1. Pebbles*

          Yep! You can tell your manager that I, unknown anonymous internet person, said so! :)

  18. Environmental Gone Public Health Gone Back Environmental*

    I actually blocked someone on LinkedIn because he wouldn’t stop endorsing me for all sorts of baloney completely unrelated to my field…but related to his, of course. We spoke maybe three times total throughout college? No idea what started it, but about 6 months after we had both graduated, I was suddenly getting 15-20 endorsements a *day*. Sent him a message after the 3rd day of hey, could you stop? then blocked after he continued.

    1. Lady By The Lake*

      This goes to my point below — I doubt it was actually him. This happened to me with a good friend and when I asked her she confirmed that it wasn’t her. Again, weird algorithm.

      1. Environmental Gone Public Health Gone Back Environmental*

        It very well could have been something like that. I just wish he would have responded to my message if it wasn’t actually him doing it!

        He was a really, really weird person to start with, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if he really was doing it. He also kept going back and liking very old posts of mine on Facebook at the same rate he kept endorsing me for stuff (blocked him there too). I’ve never had LinkedIn endorsement wackiness happen since, thankfully.

    2. AMT*

      I’m a therapist and I constantly get endorsements from people I know from undergrad. Like, is your assessment of how well I can do CBT based on that drunken advice I gave you one time? I even got an endorsement from a professor I’d never met with whom I took exactly *zero* classes who had been fired after being prosecuted for fraud. And one from an old guy from my hometown I haven’t seen since I was a teenager who probably found out I was a therapist through LinkedIn.

  19. Lady By The Lake*

    I believe that many Linked In endorsements are not real and instead are part of a weird Linked In algorithm. I work in a specialized area and was surprised to see some people who know my work well endorse me for skills in a tangentially related area (about which I know nothing), but not endorse me for my actual specialty. To a person, they expressed surprise and said that they don’t do Linked In endorsements. I’ve been thanked for endorsements I’ve never made, and I’ve had personal friends show up as making work endorsements that they never made. So unless someone writes an actual review, the endorsements are bogus IMHO.

    1. Kate*

      Wow! I assumed the LinkedIn algorithm just suggested skills for my connections to endorse, so I was giving serious side-eye to people endorsing me for skills I did not have. Like, why would you click on suggestions if you aren’t familiar with my skill set? But LinkedIn just *saying* my connections endorsed me seems pretty sketchy, especially in the business world where recommendations can really influence your reputation.

      1. Jaydee*

        This really bothers me and is yet another reason I’m glad I don’t use LinkedIn. In law it really matters if those endorsements are accurate. Back in the day when I did have a LinkedIn profile with actual connections, I would get endorsed in areas of the law that not only don’t I practice, but I actually have rules prohibiting me from practicing.

  20. McWhadden*

    I don’t disagree with the advice. But I have had a lot of admins in my career that I had some authority over but not hiring/firing power. I would hate for the OP to have to out herself to her employer in order to clean up a situation that the admin has exclusively caused. (I know it’s a four employee shop but one of the others could be the boss or it could be a satellite.)

    1. Observer*

      Well, if the OP does want / need to that route, she doesn’t really need to out herself. The fundamental reason to fire the secretary is that she’s NOT TALKING TO HER BOSS, and that IS going to cause problems. It doesn’t really matter WHY she’s not talking to her boss. So, what the OP needs to do is to focus on the behavior, and – assuming that the person with hiring / firing authority is a reasonable person – can avoid discussing why the secretary is behaving this way.

  21. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP #2 – I like Alison’s suggested script, but I disagree that you should bring up the possibility that secretary is acting odd because she learned that you’re queer. First, because as Penny Lane mentioned above, acting like it’s such a bizarre notion that it would never even occur to you is a better course of action. And second, because I feel like if you say anything that can be construed as the merest hint of suggestion that she is a bigot/homophobe, you could end up having to deal with Righteous Indignation of the How Dare You Call Me a [whatever] and that could make things far messier, especially if you end up having to terminate her for not talking to you.

    Good luck. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    1. embertine*

      I think you will almost certainly get the Righteous Indignation of the How Dare You Call Me A, and the easiest response to it is “because you’re acting exactly like one”.

  22. Imposter Syndrome Graphic Designer*

    OP 1: I agree with the “eh, you have to suck it up” comments, but I just want to chime in with some hearty and heartfelt sympathy. My current job is my first on a “standard” 9 to 5 schedule (after a decade or so in academia, secondary education, food service, and other jobs with unpredictable hours & blurred work/life zones), and I’ve been amazed at how much easier I personally find it to do consistent, high-quality, productive work when I have a two-day weekend and can rely on my evenings being free. The three or four times a year that I have to work overtime or weekends (even paid or with a comp day!) invariably disrupt me for several weeks afterward, and I usually end up having to take a sick day or two to get back on track. But my productivity overall is much higher than in the days when I was in grad school and studying or writing around the clock, even though much of my work is similar. So I don’t think you’re being unreasonable or whiny at all, even though I agree with Alison that if it’s not happening frequently there’s probably not a great way around it. I think I’m a little unusual in being SO sensitive to schedule changes and overloading and SO in need of ample down time (even a 40 hour workweek is a challenge for me), but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it–I get through at least as much or more work as my more flexible colleagues. (I’m also living with chronic mental illness that takes up a lot of energy outside work, which may have something to do with it.)

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Now that you mention it I have to say I have the same problem. I’ve traveled on Sunday to be on site for Monday and I’m never as “with it”, but I always attributed it to travel in general and not getting a good night’s sleep. Luckily my current manager is very good at giving us a comp day when we work weekends, even without us asking for it.

    2. Caro in the UK*

      I have exactly the same problem. While I recognise that the occasional six day week is part of my job, the toll it takes on my energy levels makes me irrationally angry about them, probably way more than I should be!

      1. Imposter Syndrome Graphic Designer*

        I definitely know this feeling :). For a while my current job entailed working Sundays. Even taking Saturdays and Mondays off was significantly more challenging than two days back-to-back. Sometimes I feel like a giant privileged baby about this issue, but I try to remember that when I get enough rest I’m pretty good at my job, and getting enough rest is one of the things that makes me better at it.

    3. Alton*

      I’m extremely sensitive to schedule changes and changes in routine (even when it comes to recreational stuff–last night I stayed out with friends a half hour longer than I usually would on a week night, and felt really out of sorts when I got home). I definitely prefer having consistent hours.

      (I suspect mental health could be a factor for me, but I’m still in the process of addressing it, so it’s hard to tell.)

  23. LexiLexicon*

    #2: Maybe the “secretary” objects to being called an archaic, patriarchal term. “Secretary” is no longer an acceptable term in many offices.

    1. Lehigh*

      Okay, but in many other offices it is acceptable. It seems unlikely that she developed a sudden aversion to the term. Plus, her boss is a woman, so I doubt that it’s a “patriarchal” relationship.

  24. Aspiring Parliamentarian*

    For #3, the thing to remember about any volunteer organization is that there is a set of rules that pertain to how they operate. You’re typically going to have bylaws, and again typically the bylaws will also say that your parliamentary authority is Robert’s Rules of Order. In that type of situation, the other board members need to realize that the position of chair is not symbolized by a crown, but by a gavel – they’re not the person with all the power, but the person with the responsibility to ensure that things are done.
    So a couple of recommendations:
    * read the bylaws – what power do they actually give the President between meetings?
    * again read the bylaws – can they remove board members between AGMs?
    * Check on the official Rules of Order website –
    * Nancy Sylvester is a parliamentarian who wrote a great book called Guerrilla Guide to Rules of Order, and she has a 4 pager for how to disagree with the chair: from
    * in short, if during a meeting she says something like “here’s an idea, I’m going to do this, moving on”, make a point of order! Ask for a vote! Make an alternative motion! You have the power to do that as a member. You can also appeal any rulings of the chair by a vote of the board – and I’m assuming there’s more of you than there are of her.
    * buy a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly reviewed, 11th edition, or possibly start with Robert’s Rules in Brief.
    * the older versions of the Rules are out of copyright, so there are other editions that are no longer correct. This website shows which version to get:

    Of course, if your parliamentary authority isn’t Robert’s Rules, there may be different steps to take. There may also be different steps to take if your bylaws do give her the authority to make unilateral decisions between meetings (in that case, I’d suggest getting together a bylaw committee to change the bylaws).

    Let me know if you need any bylaw assistance!

    1. Super Anon Today*

      I was just looking for Robert’s Rules last night to figure out quorum. I’m saving all of these links, thank you!

  25. LBG*

    LinkedIn endorsements used to be a gray ethical area for attorneys – was it considered attorney advertising, subject to the rules of professional conduct? There is some better guidance out there, but you still should check your state rules regarding use of social media and attorney advertising. I’ve blocked anyone from endorsing me. I don’t accept outside clients, so I mainly use LinkedIn to keep up with a few random colleagues.

  26. WillyNilly*

    OP2 – is it possible something about your date offended your secretary other than that it was with another woman? Like maybe you said you planned to go to Seaworld to see whales and she’s an active PETA member, or that you are active PETA members and were planning a red paint attack meanwhile she comes from a family of furriers?

    1. embertine*

      Here comes Occam’s Big Paisley Tie again! Despite the ubiquity of homophobia, and the timing of the secretary’s silent treatment, of course it was LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE other than the thing it almost certainly was. Thanks for your contribution, I’m sure LW hadn’t thought of that exhaustively before writing in.

      1. WillyNilly*

        Of course homophobia exists, but plenty of straight folks get frozen out by others all the time for various reasons, so yeah there really could be any sort of explanation.
        Your comment implies that you perhaps wouldn’t think of other reasons exhaustively before writing in if it were you, you would just immediately jump at homophobia, so why assume the LW has?

        While the LW says she is queer, but presumably she is other things as well – involved or interested in hobbies, clubs, politics, social scenes, etc, any of which could be polarizing.

        1. embertine*

          Because I’m very familiar with the bit where you second guess yourself, don’t want to make a fuss, make allowances for people, because if you have to face the fact that your colleague is homophobic you may have to confront them. So yes, I would exhaustively look for other explanations, but chances are it would turn out to be exactly the reason I suspected it might be, because it always has. I’d be very pleased if it turned out that secretary was offended that LW was taking her girlfriend to a barbecue because Secretary is a militant vegan, but from experience that’s less likely to be the case.

        2. LBK*

          Gay people always, always, always, ALWAYS go through the exhaustive list of other reasons someone might not want to speak to them, because it’s much better for you if it was something else you did that you might be able to fix than it is for the person to hate you simply because you’re gay, something you can never change. I assure you, you are never going to come up with a possible interpretation of the situation that a gay person didn’t already think of. We do this all the time for our entire lives. We have a lot more practice than you.

        3. Delphine*

          It’s really not fun for marginalized people to have to realize that maybe they’re being mistreated because Person X is a bigot. I assure you, we’re not jumping at the chance to call everything homophobic/racist/sexist. We just have instincts, honed through experience, like anyone else.

    2. Observer*

      You know, I could think of a lot of POSSIBLE reasons that the secretary is acting this way. And collectively, you might actually have a significant probability that it’s not homophobia at work. But what does it really matter? How is is helpful to keep on bringing up all of the other possibilities – especially in the context of “This rather unlikely scenario is one that you should consider equally to the much more likely scenario.”

      It’s been noted that there is a real (if small) possibility that something else might be the reason. And, Allison provided a script that allows for that possibility. That’s a good script because as a practical matter allowing for the possibility when dealing with the issue is likely to have better results no matter what the reason really is. But why does the OP need to “consider” and look for every unlikely possibility?

      And, what difference does it make? Refusing to speak to your boss because you don’t approve of their out of work behavior is just not acceptable. (I say that as someone who might very well be looking for a new job if my boss turned out to be an active PETA member. Their antisemitism is scary.)

  27. Kat*

    Eugene Mirman has a really funny bit on one of his comedy CDs about putting himself as the “VP of Pee Pee” at Verizon and all kinds of other ridiculous skills on his LinkedIn profile – like Wolf Toss, Urology, Shape Shifting etc. A ton of people have endorsed him for these silly skills. So that should tell you exactly how much LinkedIn endorsements are worth!

  28. M.J.E*

    #3 OP

    I served 4 years on a party central committee (essentially the county level of the political party).
    There absolutely should be something within your bylaws that allows you to remove the board President.
    Additionally, remember, this is politics. Use any procedure or law available to your advantage. Use parliamentary procedure to your advantage. You may also consider going above BP’s head if the organization reports to a larger body, party, or organization.

    This brought back a lot of flash backs for me! Heh.

    OP if you need any advice or assistance, please reach out on here and I’ll try to link up with you!

    1. Jaydee*

      My secret superpower is amending bylaws to make them actually useful for things like forcing out ineffective people in a politically palatable way. Like, I have seriously served on at least 3 separate bylaws committees for that purpose over the years.

      The thing to remember is that Robert already did the heavy lifting in his Rules of Order. Just pushing people to maybe sometimes sort of follow those can get some of the worst people out or at least throw up barriers to their reckless disregard for rules and order.

  29. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    #2 OP: I’d rather that homophobes don’t talk to me! But, you do have to work with her so I would address this. I guess I have lived in a very safe “bubble” so I wouldn’t know how to deal. But you have my sympathies from a fellow queer person!

  30. Anonymeece*

    OP #4 – I try to endorse people for skills I know they honestly have, even though I don’t believe it makes that much of a difference to job recruiters; I do think it makes a difference for your network though. For past employees (I don’t accept connections on any social media until I’m no longer their boss) or colleagues, I endorse them because I want them to know that I recognized and appreciated their work in X. I’ve had a few people reach out to thank me, which opened conversations to see how they were doing, or even to let me know of a job that I might be a good fit for.

    So if someone wants to endorse you, or you want to endorse someone, it can be a nice, easy way to show appreciation, but I’ve never found that it made any iota of difference in actual job hunting/recruiting.

  31. Leslie knope*

    I’m really uncomfortable with all the people trying to second-guess OP2. Queer people can tell who’s being homophobic, it’s not exactly fun for us.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      I’m straight, and it’s makimg ME uncomfortable! I can’t even imagine how it must feel to the queer folks. It really needs to stop.

  32. Lady Phoenix*

    Op#2: I am notbgonna gaslight you into thinking your secratary is not a homophobe like it seems many of the commenters wanna do.

    She is your assistent and not talkingnto you. That is an issues that needs addressing. If she pulls out the feligion card or homophobia card, politely tell her she better get over it or find a new job.

  33. JM60*

    “She can have whatever private opinions of your sexual orientation that she wants, but the way she behaves in your office is very much your business, and it’s not okay for her to freeze you out.”

    From a strictly business point of view, this approach makes sense. However, queer business owners really are morally justified in firing employees who hold very personal, and insulting, beliefs about them.

      1. JM60*

        We don’t know that she isn’t the owner, as she didn’t say that she had anyone above her. Even if she’s not the owner, firing someone for believing something so incredibly insulting and personal about you can still be morally justified (although, whatever impact that may have on the owner might also be morally relevant to a degree, such as if firing this person may cause the business to go fail and the owner to lose all of their investments).

  34. Sci fi chicka*

    Re: OP#1
    What do you all think is too much (in frequency) for a weekend retreat? Exempt vs nonexempt (not talking working the weekend or things like being on call, but the added on retreat day that you suck up). When does it transition from “ok” to not ok? I started tracking ours and we are up to 2 already this year with 3 more coming (and I’m like over it).

  35. Pomona Sprout*

    I was raised in a religion like that, and I can vouch for the brainwashing that goes on. As a teenager, I remember actually being told that it was my personal responsibility to “witness” to others and that if someone I could have witnessed to and didn’t went to hell, that was also my responsibility. It’s a pretty horrible thing to do to a kid, but it happens. I got out, but it took me years to completely shake the fear of hell fire and damnation that had been drummed into me. It’s such a visceral thing and can hang on long past the time when you no longer believe in it on an intellectual level.,

    I know for a fact that there are people who sincerely believe it’s their job to try to keep other people from going to hell (which to them is a VERY real thing). They’re mistaken, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’re not heart attack serious about it.

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