update: I’ve let my CEO think I’m engaged to a woman but I’m not

Remember the letter-writer whose CEO incorrectly assumed he was engaged to a woman, and who wasn’t sure how or whether to correct him? Here’s the update.

Thank you to the AAM community your support and kindness in my last letter. I wanted to provide an update:

The week after sending the letter, I knew that the ship had sailed and I would have to talk to my boss. When I dropped off a project at the end of the day, I casually mentioned to my boss that my fiancé would be coming to the upcoming Christmas party, and I didn’t want him to be caught off guard that he was the same sex as me. My boss had no visible emotional reaction and thanked me for turning in my project, and that he was looking forward to meeting Taylor.

The next day many of my coworkers were busy or out of the office for lunch, so I ate by myself. This is usually not a big deal to me (it takes a lot of planning in my firm to not eat alone – if you don’t reach out you likely will be alone as people typically work through their lunches), however I was very hurt to learn that a group I frequent lunch with went out without inviting me. The next day I would also find out that my department went to a happy hour later that day without me. It is very possible that I was not invited because of a simple oversight, but it was hard for me to not be hurt by it given the timing.

It has become clear to me that I will always wonder if anything negative that happens to me in my office will be related to my sexuality and/or my credibility after being caught lying about my sexuality. I am unsure of how my coworkers feel, but I know that I feel hurt and vulnerable right now. Straight people often think that coming out will be a liberating experience, that I would feel such a relief right away. The experience (at least, for me) was really the opposite – I now feel caged and trapped.

My fiancé and I sat down and talked, and it was clear that I would always feel like a victim in my workplace, even in situations where I am not. Even though I love the work, I will make myself miserable wondering if I didn’t get invited to lunch because of this, didn’t get promoted because of this, didn’t get on a committee because of this, etc (And of course, there are many, many reasons not related to my sexuality that those things could happen!). We decided that we are going to move to a new place. All of our community here knew us when we were “straight” – we have decided that we want to move somewhere new where we will not lie about our sexuality and can have a fresh start. We’ve both begun the process of job hunting in new states.

I hope that other LGBT people won’t look at this and think this is a case study for queer people in the office. I feel like my situation was just an unfortunate series of events – I’m upset about it now, but hopefully soon I can see it as a comedy of errors. For what it’s worth, the outcome was relatively mild – I am still safe and financially stable. And hopefully ultimately good will come from it as I start the processing of moving of starting a new life.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my letter – I read all 1,000+ comments and was grateful for each one. Even people who offered the “wrong” or “insensitive” advice gave me honest perspectives to consider. Thank you everyone for taking the time to offer your thoughts on my situation – I am deeply thankful and apologize that I didn’t have time to respond to each and every one.

{ 558 comments… read them below }

  1. Clay on My Apron*

    Hi OP, thank you for your update! I’m sorry that you feel as though you need to move and make a fresh start, but I hope that works out well for both of you. All the best xx

    1. Good luck OP!!*

      Yes to all of this! I hope your move works out and you will both be very happy in your new place.

      Hopefully the world will continue to become more inclusive for everyone, and that we get to aplace where everyone gets promotions based on being good at their job, rather than looking a certain way or being a certain way.

    2. Gayked and Afraid*

      Hey all! It’s the letter writer. Thank you all for your responses – this time around I’m in a much less emotional place, so I hope that I can have a more nuanced and thoughtful discussion with you all this time.

      I’ll be checking in periodically from now until Sunday to read and try to respond to the comments, so please don’t feel like you’re late to the party if you have thoughts or responses for me. Looking forward to chatting!

        1. Gayked and Afraid*

          Thank you – I’m really trying to get redemption from my poor performance in the last comments section.

          1. Mookie*

            You have nothing to apologize for. You’ve been gracious and thoughtful and exceedingly candid in both posts. As someone blessed with the good fortune to have been comfortably out since early childhood, thank you for reminding privileged queers like me that progress is incremental and can never be taken for granted. We do what we have to do; our choices are constrained, rarely easy, seldom perfect, almost always reflect back the toxicity directed at us. At best, we wield the power we have (indeed, many of us are enormously privileged at other intersections of oppression) to shield ourselves, those we love, and protect the more marginalized, the erased, the voiceless. There is no ethical alternative, and I sense in you cognizance of that reality. Solidarity will win out.

            All my best to you and Taylor.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Hey, no, don’t…you didn’t do anything wrong. A lot of people were taking a really privileged approach to the situation and making some hurtful assumptions and accusations, and especially as you were in a bit of a raw place emotionally (understandably so!) I think a bit of snapping back at people is entirely understandable.

            No poor performance there, nor need to get redemption. I’m sorry to hear you’re needing to physically uproot yourselves, but I’m hoping and wishing for you that it turns out to be a great move and you find the kind of community we all deserve, wherever you may go.

      1. Gayked and Afraid*

        Logging off for tonight. One thing I want to clarify is that I am equally worried about my reputation as being credible, ethical, and honest being impacted by this whole situation as I am about being penalized for my sexuality. It’s very possible that someone could be comfortable with my sexuality and uncomfortable with how I handled it. Whether that’s right or wrong – doesn’t really matter! It is what it is and it’s time for me to move forward.

        1. Berlina*

          Hey, I’m glad that you felt comfortable for taking this HUGE step! Straight people have NO clue how hard a coming out is, no matter where and when, and that it’s not a one-time thing but happens almost every effing day in some sort. You did great!

          I wish you and Taylor all the best in finding a LGBT+ welcoming neighbour hood and workplace!

        2. Sunshine*

          I really feel that anyone with the slightest empathy, and / or a news subscription should be able to parse why you may not have felt comfortable coming out. I don’t think you did anything wrong.

          1. Red 5*

            While I agree with this wholeheartedly, and would add that in this situation I wouldn’t in any way feel upset or lied to or question a person’s credibility, I do think it’s fair to point out that not everybody is an intelligent human with empathy and understanding so I can also understand OP’s fear here.

            But again, OP, you didn’t do anything wrong and you are not a dishonest person. I know it’s small comfort to know that the problem lies with the other person since it still affects you, but that is the truth.

        3. Clay on my Apron*

          It’s possible that some people would be uncomfortable with that, but I’d call that a failure of empathy on their part. It’s very easy to “do the right thing” from the sidelines or when you have nothing personally to lose.

          1. Jadelyn*

            “It’s very easy to “do the right thing” from the sidelines or when you have nothing personally to lose.”

            I would like to tattoo this on the insides of everyone’s eyelids, plz and kthx. Failing that, perhaps some big neon billboards?

        4. EMW*

          I’m so sorry you feel that way. I currently have a coworker who we think is actually married to a man, but he hasn’t obviously confirmed this. I don’t push the subject, but have made a conscious effort to say spouse vs wife in general after being rightfully called out by a coworker on my choice of language. I wish he felt comfortable enough to tell us this if it’s true, but I don’t blame him at all for hiding that and letting us assume otherwise. We do work in a very sexist, racist, homophobic industry, but our team is not any of those things anymore (we had one member who shared these views who is no longer on our team).

          I do wish you both luck with the job search and rebuilding your community as your more authentic selves!

          1. HannahC*

            Hi, friend. Just one thing I’d like to point out on this response, that I hope you’ll think about: its not actually your coworkers job to manage your assumptions. You said, “I don’t blame him for… letting us assume otherwise.” He didn’t “let” you do anything, you did that all on your own! And its not his responsibility to challenge or correct your assumptions, its yours.

            Queer people don’t owe others information about our gender identities, our partners gender identities, or our sexual orientations. We are not lying or hiding if we choose not to discuss these topics. If someone assumes I am straight because they have not yet heard otherwise from me, that is their mistake not mine. I am not responsible for correcting the assumption, they are responsible for not making it in the first place.

            I’m glad you feel your team is not sexist, racist, or homophobic, but it does seem like you are perpetuating an environment of heteronormativity that can still make life difficult for LBGTQ people. This pervasive assumption that it is our responsibility to actively “come out”, and that we are default straight until we declare otherwise, is what creates the closet in the first place. Sounds like you are making good progress with using gender neutral terms, so keep that up and try to train yourself to think in those terms not just in the context of your coworker but of all people you may encounter!

            1. Snarl Trolley*

              Thank you for this comment. That jumped out at me the instant I read their comment and you articulated this response so much better than I could have. <3

      2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Can we have a comment section contest where we try and lure you and your fiance to our various cities? Kind of like you’re the Amazon headquarters? Because you seem like a really lovely person, and your new town is going to be lucky to have you both. If you are kicking around ideas for where to go or where the jobs are in your industry, I bet a lot of people here would be glad to give you the dl on their towns.

        1. pope suburban*

          Honestly, the thought crossed my mind too. I’d feel lucky to have neighbors so courteous, thoughtful, and ethical.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Repping for the Bay Area here – I’ll admit that the cost of living is atrocious, but if you’re in law or finance (based on the language in your initial letter) you’d probably be able to get the kind of salary that lets people live comfortably around here. As long as you can sort that out, it’s a great place to live and really queer-friendly in all but a few holdout pockets.

      3. Sketchee*

        Sending much love to you. We’re always “coming out” and it’s often weird, awkward, and anxiety provoking.

        Especially knowing that many people still have negative attitudes about the whole thing. While straight coworkers casually talk about their situations all of the time without even thinking about any of this. I often hear coworkers talk about their wife, the client’s husband, and it’s easy. So I feel for how hard this is and how hard it is where you are.

        You’re doing great!

  2. kc89*

    I’m sorry you feel caged and trapped!

    If you move on I hope you find yourself in an a very LGBT friendly office, they do exist and it’s a great relief working in one.

    1. JokeyJules*

      also wishing you success and peace in your future!
      As an ally, what are ways that your coworkers could have put those worries of not being accepted to rest? I wouldnt want anyone i work with to feel this way if i can help make it otherwise.

      1. SierraSkiing*

        As a queer person, thanks for asking! Not OP, but I know I can relax after coming out to someone if they incorporate my fiance in small talk to a normal degree. ie, asking “oh, have you and R set a date?” or asking “So what does R do?” People who are uncomfortable with LGBT people tend to pretend R doesn’t exist. or, one of my least favorite moves, call R my “friend.” (Calling a person’s partner their friend screams “I am deeply uncomfortable with your relationship and can only maintain normalcy by distorting reality.”)

        1. Jake Not-from-State-Farm*

          OMG. Yes. Do NOT ever call a partner a “friend” if the relationship has been given a different title/identifier. My step-monster made me literally cringe when doing this with the last guy I dated. I will also second the advice to just ask about them. Maybe even a TINY bit more than you might in the case of two straight individuals at first. Its almost the same rationale as Alison’s advice about speaking warmly to someone after asking them to stop doing something or critiquing them.

            1. many bells down*

              My sister’s fiancee’s grandmother STILL is doing the “friends” and “it’s a phase” thing and they’ve been together 8 years. They’re getting married, Doris. Deal with it.

              1. Marissa*

                This makes me want to start automatically referring to people’s partners with same-gender pronouns until I know for sure that they’re straight, and/or start doing the “friends” thing to straight people.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Oof, to each their own but I do not like this advice – it makes me so uncomfortable if I feel like someone is treating me differently (even if it’s differently for the better) because of my same-sex partner.

            1. E.*

              But I think the point here is that it *isn’t* treating them differently – those are ways people would naturally bring up a straight person’s partner.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I don’t want to speak for Courageous cat, but I think they might mean the suggestion to take/show more interest in a person’s same-sex partner, then you normally take in a person’s opposite sex partner is treating them differently. The actual action is not different but the amount of time/effort. For example you ask how a coworker A’s opposite-sex partner is doing 2 times a week, but in an effort to show how accepting and okay you are with same-sex relationships you ask how coworker B’s same-sex partner is doing 5 times a week.

        2. Aaron*

          The only times I would say that would be

          a) we’re close enough that I can make a joke about it, or
          b) they’ve asked me in private to use that term because they’re not out to everyone yet

        3. Essess*

          I have to disagree with your comment about not incorporating your fiance into small talk means they are uncomfortable …. With my work friends/coworkers, I don’t discuss their families at all no matter to what gender they are dating/married. I feel their personal life is not my business so I don’t ask questions or talk about their spouses and children. I will listen and comment appropriately if they offer comments about their families, but I don’t initiate personal conversations/questions about their families. I THINK about 10 or 20% of my coworkers are LGBT (some I know for certain because they have openly mentioned it in a comment at some point) but I don’t make it a topic of conversation because it really doesn’t matter to me.

        4. HomoSweetHomo*

          My step-grandfather called my wife my “friend” after we were M A R R I E D. Like, he sent a present. He signed a card. DEAL WITH IT JOE.

        5. Jadelyn*

          Seconded – and especially the “don’t call them a “friend”” thing, there are few things in the world that set my teeth to grinding faster than someone referring to my partners, current or past, as my “friends”. It’s a big old homophobic slap in the face.

          Just…don’t make us feel like you’re dancing around something naughty in your efforts to be delicate and inoffensive. That’s the kind of well-meaning thing that enhances heteronormativity and exclusion, not dismantles it.

      2. i did, i did, i did*

        The most important thing is, DON’T treat them differently after they come out. If you were gonna hang out, still hang out. Don’t make awkward comments about attraction (if you think you’re in the group they’re attracted to), etc. Don’t suddenly bring up politics or religion. Just treat us the same way after you know as you did before you knew. One of the problems with coming out is always feeling like it’s a burden to have to do it, like everyone assumes straightness and you have to go out of your way to correct them, and make a decision on if that’s a safe thing to do. Take down the stress levels by making it Not Be A Thing That Changes Anything. Because, believe me, the person who just came out? Is scared it’s going to change Everything.

        1. Green*

          Question for you: what are your thoughts about colleagues who think you may be gay signalling they are LGBT allies? Is that just weird and not really that ally-ing?

          1. i did, i did, i did*

            Well, are they doing it in general or are they doing it “at” me? If it’s in general, that’s totally fine. If it’s like “oh hey, you know I like the gays, wink wink nudge nudge” that’s a lot more awkward.

            But don’t just do it when I’m around! Use gender-neutral assumptions when talking to other people as well. Make it normal.

            1. Gayked and Afraid*

              Plus also wanted to add that it’s fine and normal to suspect someone is gay, but I get self-conscious when people suspect I’m gay (even though they’re right!). In a work context they’ll tell you when they’re ready to tell you.

            2. Green*

              This may be super awkward, but when I’ve done this (typically at uber conservative work environments) I’ve tried (?) to make it a bit more subtle. (“What did you do this weekend?” “I got to catch up with my friend Dave and his boyfriend Bob but mostly just watched Law & Order reruns.”) But I have no idea if that is actually more offensive or not. I’m not particularly invested in someone coming out to me or not, but I would hate to know that a coworker was going through what OP is going through if it turned out that everyone is fine with gay people but nobody knows how to talk about it!

              For awhile I had a “My pronouns are” badge on my laptop bag. Maybe something like that equally directed at everyone is a better way to signal and raise awareness though.

      3. Clorinda*

        Well, I think it’s pretty clear OP would have felt MUCH more comfortable if someone had made sure to involve him in normal office socializing. Sure, it might be a coincidence or an oversight … but how can he know, and how can he be sure of his ground with these people again?

      4. Chicken*

        It can be helpful to casually mention other same sex couples that you spend time with. Definitely don’t make a big point of it (not: “My sister is also gay! You should be friends, because you’re both gay!”), but if you have a normal opening, mention them (“What did you do over the weekend?” “I went out to dinner with my sister and her wife, we went to that new Indian place that just opened – have you tried it yet?).

        I’m queer and when people have queer friends and mention them and their relationships like it’s no big deal (because it isn’t!), I know that it’s safe to be open around them.

      5. Gayked and Afraid*

        I’ve only been out in the workplace for a week or so, so I honestly don’t have a lot of thoughts on how I want my coworkers to treat me – thanks for asking though!

        One thing that is always reassuring to me when I come out to other guys is if they will still make physical contact with me afterwards. While this is not appropriate for the workplace, in my personal relationships it means a lot when someone will hug me afterwards – on the flip side, I notice if they hesitate to make physical contact with me afterwards I notice that too. If you’re a girl it’s important to remember that I’m still “one of the guys” – I’m not suddenly your gay best friend, and I don’t want to be a part of your girl talk. I think the mantra would be “I’m just a normal guy – keep treating me like you were!”

        1. JSPA*

          Not a thing wrong with searching elsewhere! But (as searches don’t have to be done at warp speed), you may have a lot more clarity in another two weeks whether the old group is giving you the cold shoulder…needed one day to gossip about your status without you there, so that everyone was in the loop, and then went back to business as usual…or whether they’re so cool with it that they didn’t feel a need to signal that you’re still welcome (anymore than they would have on any other day) and/or they were so respectful of your right to self-out that nobody gossiped, so that many of them still have no clue about your orientation.

          Your feeling of, “I will never feel OK with” is no doubt intense. Intense enough that it passes for immutable truth. But I’m guessing you’ve had some other moments of comparable certainty in your life that didn’t actually stick (?). I’m not saying, “doubt yourself.” I’m saying, “allow yourself to observe how your feelings and the situation develop for a couple more weeks.” If for no other reason than, you can’t outrun awkward. If you go to a gay mecca, you may find some other part of your background becomes your “new awkward.” There will be an awareness that someone may be questioning your accent, or your style, or your lack of familiarity with camp and showtunes, or whatever the heck else makes you potentially self-conscious about fitting in. If you are planning on moving on anyway, the pressure is off, at the current job. Might as well do your (internal) emotional belly flops there.

          You mentioned a strong / enforced religious background. One of the things that’ll give you is an unusual norm for how concordant everyone normally feels and acts, in a group. Because church youth groups are so often just like that. Deep breath; you’re your own person now. More times than not, you’ll find you’re not in perfect synch with your work-friend group(s) or even your friend-group friends.

          1. Gayked and Afraid*

            Hi JSPA – those are all really good points, and I think in a vacuum my reaction does seem really extreme. For me though this was the last straw. As my friends have had children they’ve asked me to stay away because they don’t “want them exposed to that lifestyle”, when I came out in my church they asked me to step down as a Bible study leader, etc. Being “forced out” at work was really my last straw.

            1. Miso*

              Oh wow, I’m so sorry about all that, that’s terrible.
              I wanna say “Those people obviously aren’t your friends!”, but well, they probably really were before they found out that one detail – and that makes it even worse IMHO. I totally get why you want to move. So good luck with job searching and moving and finding new, better, accepting friends!

            2. Lily Rowan*

              Oh hell no to all of that! It definitely sounds like you will be happier in a different community.

              Although I’ll note that sometimes the “different community” is closer than you think. My choir director at church was forced out of his last job for being gay, but is warmly embraced at our church, just a few miles away. (Although, to be fair, I think most people in our general vicinity would be surprised at the intolerance, not the tolerance.)

              Good luck, OP.

            3. Not in US*

              Oh I’m so sorry – your comment about friends and their kids makes me want to weep. I grew up in Church, I left the church (for lots of reasons – preacher’s kid here) and finally came back after having my first kid and I would leave a church and friends over these kinds of attitudes. Try to remember church is a bunch of broken people who are often horrible – and the horrible is added to because they believe they are righteous when they have no love, no kindness and no understanding of who and what God is. I hope you find a place that loves you for who you are and provides you with community – and if that has nothing to do with church (for a while or forever) then that’s what happens. You need to be safe – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

            4. General Ginger*

              I am so sorry you’ve had to deal with so many crappy, crappy people. I wish you much luck in finding a more accepting community and better, understanding friends.

            5. Jules the 3rd*

              That sucks so bad. SO VERY BAD.

              There are places out there where people will not treat you like that. ARGH.

            6. Jadelyn*

              I literally paused with my sandwich halfway into my open mouth for a bite when I read this. The kids part in particular makes me see red. I’m so sorry you had to experience that.

              And I thought the conservative friend I had when I lived in the south, who referred to LGBT folks euphemistically around the children as “rainbow people”, was bad! She was a good friend, I loved her dearly, her 3 girls called me “Auntie J” ffs, but holy hell that grated. Still nothing on literally being asked to stay away from the kids entirely, though, that’s beyond the pale.

      6. toomanybooks*

        I’m a couple days late so this may have already been said but if it has it bears repeating. If someone says something homophobic in your office, don’t let it slide. It usually is in the manner where it seems to vague to be worthy of “calling out” but the best way to respond to that is to ask for clarification on what the person meant. It seems perfectly polite and reasonable but it’s a good way to make the conversation happen. As a lesbian, any time something kinda homophobic is said around me I freeze up and feel terrible so I’m really not the person who can jump to educate anyone or ask that they don’t talk like that in front of me. It feels especially harder at work if you’re gay and you worry about seeming like you’re making a big deal of it or you’re difficult about it. So it’s really nice to know that people have your back and you aren’t just in a homophobic environment or going crazy or something.

    2. Doug Judy*

      I hope there will be another update, once OP has found a new community and new job. All the best to you and Taylor, OP!

    3. Soft Gray*

      I’ve always wondered how one goes about finding an LGBT friendly office?

      When I was job hunting, I kind of tried to get a feel for how generally liberal the office was, but I had no idea how to even indirectly ask how coworkers felt about queer folk. This is my first job out of college, and I stayed closeted for like four months out of uncertainty. Funnily, it took me two months to realize my coworker had a same sex partner because she’d alternate between talking about “my partner” and “female name”, but never in the same breath, so I thought it was another family member. Goes to show how ingrained assumptions are. (And when I first mentioned not being straight during a team social thing, she pulled me aside afterward to say she’d heard from afar and supported me, and that still means a lot to me.)

      But if she weren’t here, I don’t think I would’ve come out (if ‘I’m not straight’ counts as being out…). It’s not like I can ask “Is anyone here gay?” during an interview. Does anyone have experience screening for this kind of thing when job hunting? Especially at smaller offices that are unlikely to have any diversity support groups?

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Maybe you could ask some general questions about how diverse the staff is? You could frame it as a “I enjoy working with many different kinds of people” kind of thing. Just like you would ask other things about the office culture as well.

        You’re not going to get particularly straight (tee-hee) answers to these kinds of questions, but you might get a glimpse of the atmosphere (good or bad!).

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          As a hiring manager there’s no good way to answer that question (IMO). The only safe way is to say “we value diversity” which doesn’t really tell you anything except that person learned the buzzword from their diversity training. I’m not sure I’d take this at face value.

          I mean, I guess I could say “We have 1 LGBT person, 2 people of color, and a guy we don’t really know what his religion is” But even if that’s true, that’s going to come off really really wrong (It felt horrible just to write it out) to say something like this.

          I’m not going to ask you if you are LGBT just so that I can assure that it’s ok here. ‘Cause A. I don’t really care if you are or not and nor should I, and B. It’s not a great interview practice and could be against the law to ask.

          Now that I think about it, I guess I’d answer that question with “I can’t speak for all the individuals who work here, because I don’t know how they think. But I can tell you that from my experience the overall culture is it doesn’t matter who you are as long as you get results” It doesn’t answer the question, but it’s a true statement for my organization from what I’ve experienced.

          I think the hard part, if we’re all being honest about this, is that it’s a difficult line to walk for both the candidate and the company. I get it, you (global you) as a candidate don’t necessarily want to bring this up in an interview. I (global I) don’t want to make assumptions about candidates, nor do I really think orientation matters at all in an interview. So I guess everyone’s kind of left tiptoeing or guessing during the hiring process.

          I was really sorry to read this update.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            One way is to look at their website, if they’re a service organization. Pay close attention to their imagery/photos, as well as any of the literature online. For instance, say you’re interviewing for an accounting position in a research hospital, pay attention to what pilot program news they have. Do word searches for diversity and anything related to $exuality, see if there lots of female images (why yes, they could just have a diverse developer, but it’s highly unlikely that it would get approved if it was ‘too’ diverse for leadership’s comfort), etc.

            Or….just come right out and ask.

            Or…get in touch with their EAP once you get an offer.

            Or…ask the staff when you’re 1X1, etc.

          2. Avasarala*

            Yeah it feels like a no-win because even if you share the list of “people who count as diverse/minorities” it can come across as ticking off items on a collector’s list rather than valuing their contributions as workers, or those individuals might have had different experiences with other coworkers on a personal level, even if they feel institutionally accepted.

            The only thing I can think of is looking for transparent, welcoming practices in general (how do they consider transferable skills? parent leave?), and looking at how they handle visible diversity (not just black people and women but is there someone in a wheelchair? people with curly hair? facial hair? red hair? tattoos?) and hoping that extends to invisible diversity and diversity of thought/experience as well.

          3. MsSolo*

            Some of this is going to depend on the size of the organisation. Where I work, the interview panel would be able to reel off a selection of committees, working groups and events that demonstrate our commitment to diversity beyond the buzzword. We’re large enough that it makes sense to have a BAME network and LGBT group and to participate in Pride as an organisation (I mean, we do a lot of work combatting discrimination, so Pride is a bit of a no-brainer promotionally as much as anything else), whereas a small office might struggle to implement these things without making people feel singled out. Even so, a small office could still talk about if they held a potluck for Black History month, or attended Pride, or encouraged participation in local networking groups. In this day and age hoping diversity and tolerance happens organically feels a bit hopeful – if you’re committed to it as an organisation, you have to pursue it.

          4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I mean, there’s a good answer if your org has a good answer.

            When I interviewed at my current employer, who put a high emphasis on D&I, the recruiter was able to give me an in-depth answer about their LGBTQ-friendly policies toward both employees and clients, the LGBTQ employee org, the office’s participation in our local Pride parade, in-office Pride programming, so on and so forth. That went way beyond a milquetoast “yes we support diversity.”

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I would not see support of the Pride parade alone as an indication of LGBTQ friendliness. Where I live it seems like a marketing thing with every corporation putting their logo on Pride. I don’t have any experience in this, but I would look for more down-to-earth indications also.

      2. Atalanta0jess*

        I wonder if you could though? If you weren’t desperate for a job, could you say something like “it’s important to me to work in an LGBTQ friendly workplace – can you talk about the how you may or may not fit that criteria? Are there any openly gay employees?”

        Maybe? Possibly?

        1. DreamingInPurple*

          If you’re interviewing at a larger company, asking about affinity groups/employee network groups might be a good and somewhat more subtle way to get this across.

          1. Random Commenter*

            Yes, but my experience in a larger company has shown me that that can be meaningless. They had an employee network group that even went to Pride with a huge company banner logo. We even had shirts! If anyone openly said anything homophobic they would get in deep trouble. People were still very sexist and very homophobic, just… Quietly. And it really depended on which team you landed in.

            I think this is what is hard about this, you can never fully account for the human factor, a company can’t really forcible change people’s minds. So there’s always going to be some degree of bet.

            1. DreamingInPurple*

              That’s very true, it would be an inoffensive question to ask but it wouldn’t necessarily get you much information. To be honest, exactly what you are talking about is one of the things I’ve found the most frustrating since moving to a “progressive” area – when I lived in a red state, you knew how people felt whether it was positive or not. Here, everyone is nominally okay with me, but it’s impossible to tell who’s really supportive and who is performing supportiveness until you’re already in a situation.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Where I live everyone knows they’re supposed to be supportive of LGBTQ and diversity, so racists and homophobes keep quiet.
                Corporations are all about the $$$ – so they market to LGBTQ regardless of how they personally feel about them.

      3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        It’s interesting because I do hiring for part-time workers that work directly with our clients, and I did have someone in the onboarding/training process email me and say “I’m queer, I will always present as professional, but do so in a way that breaks gender norms, leaning slightly towards GENDER. How would your company make sure that I’m not in position of working with clients who feel uncomfortable with my existence.”

        I did a double take because it was so honest, and I felt terrible that the person must have been in some situations where people truly didn’t agree with their right to exist. I talked with the person who would be managing the person about it on how to respond in the best way because while internally, we’re very inclusive and are working hard to make sure all of our employees feel that, we can’t necessarily control the actions or words of our clients. What we ended up telling the individual was that people in the location where they would be working tend to be very open and welcoming (which is true), but if they ever felt that the client was not comfortable, or if they themselves felt uncomfortable in any situation, that they should tell the manager immediately, so we could address the issue.

        1. Soft Gray*

          It’s honestly really uplifting to hear you and your company were so considerate of said employee. I just wanted to give you props for that and say how great it is to read something positive to counterbalance the depressing stories I read online.

          I hope it all worked out well with the clients too!

        2. AnnaBananna*

          “clients who feel uncomfortable with my existence”

          Just totally broke my heart. But I appreciate their brave inquiry! :)

        3. Database Developer Dude*

          I have serious issues with people who would be uncomfortable with someone else’s right to exist.

          1. General Ginger*

            Yes, well. When I recently came out at work, a colleague approached me and said that while they would do their best to try to continue treating me with respect, they needed me to know that my existence didn’t align with their religious beliefs. It’s been uncomfortable, to say the least.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              That’s your colleague’s problem, not yours! You exist, and they have to deal with that.
              You know, you’d think fundamentalists would notice the phenomenon that they’re being told things and people don’t exist, and they look around and see these things and people, and you’d think they’d notice the inconsistency between what they see and what they’re being told – and you’d think they’d realize they’re being told wrong… I did…

              1. Snarl Trolley*

                “That’s your colleague’s problem, not yours! You exist, and they have to deal with that.”

                I know you’re coming from a good place here, but this is simplistic at best and condescending at worst.

                Someone disagreeing with our *very existence* is absolutely our problem – it’s a horrible microaggression and it’s devastating to experience. I know what you meant by it, but that whole phrase is just exhausting to hear over and over again. It IS our problem. They MADE it our problem by approaching us in the first place. The implication is that we can just ~brush off~ that interaction because THEY’RE the ones in the wrong, not us, so “don’t worry about it, that’s on them!” and unfortunately that’s……..just so very much not how it works. Please reconsider using that rhetoric and expressing your support in another way that doesn’t minimize the real damage done in experiences like these. :/

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  I’m sure it’s very hurtful! I know how hurtful fundamentalists can be. They don’t like smart assertive straight women either. I agree that approaching General Ginger in the first place was destructive and hurtful and served no good purpose. It sounds like it was just to make her feel bad.
                  I was trying to express the concept which we can all work with to reach a point where you see them as misguided people who are wrong about you, and then it doesn’t hurt. It does take a while to get there.
                  I’ve had many colleagues go out of their way to hurt me. It seemed like the story of my life. Everywhere I went someone would make it her mission to hurt me and/or get me fired when I hadn’t done anything to her.
                  It took a long time to realize what was going on – jealousy (no reason for that, my life sucked! But they projected their jealousy anyway) – manipulation to get ahead – competitiveness, destructiveness, and so on. I had to work on learning to not take it personally and finding work-appropriate ways to stand up to it.
                  Speaking of feeling bad, my boss’ admin at my current job seemed to be trying to block my work, make me look bad, and make me feel bad. All in quiet ways which I couldn’t tell if it was deliberate or general flakiness.
                  One day I told her quietly, “I’m not letting you make me feel bad. I’m not letting you interfere with my work, and I’m not letting you make me look bad.”
                  After a couple of those confrontations, she got better.
                  When people go out of their way to make you feel bad, you can refuse to cooperate. It can take a while to learn how, but well worth the effort!

        4. Berlina*

          This is such a great answer! I hope the person chose to come to your office? ^^

          (I’m so thankful every day that our small office office is 3/4 LGBT staffed, but that might be because I am one of the people making the hiring decisions and might have been biased… *cough cough*)

      4. ElspethGC*

        There are job boards for queer people that identify allied employers and welcoming companies – in the UK, two big ones are Pink Jobs and Proud Employers. They’re not niche job boards – I’m scrolling down Proud Employers now, and the five or six top jobs are with MI5 and the Royal Navy. I’d be surprised if there weren’t any for your field or area. Obviously they don’t tell you how welcoming your particular office-mates will be, but it’s certainly more likely that management will be on your side if you ever have reason to believe that you’re being discriminated against.

      5. hayling*

        I interviewed a guy once who dropped the term “my husband” into a sentence. He told me later that he does this in all interviews to see how the interviewer reacts. (We are in a LGBT-friendly city and my company was very LGBT-friendly, so nobody flinched…and he took the job and actually I think he still works there!)

        1. Gayked and Afraid*

          What makes me anxious about this is that one person’s reaction may not appropriately gauge the whole company. I’m in no place to talk (see: the fiasco I got myself in to above), but I think a tough reality is that even if most people are tolerant, one prejudiced person in power could deeply impact your success at work.

          1. aa*

            While in no way underestimating how tough it must be to be navigate society as a gay person, particularly in certain contexts, this also applies to other minorities (e.g. brown people, non-Christians, even women). Bigots exist, unfortunately, and you always run the risk of coming across one. There is nothing you can do to 100% guarantee that you won’t come across a bigot in your workplace. All you can do is try to get a feel for a culture, and whether it will support you generally.

            1. AMPG*

              This is an excellent point. Especially if the hiring manager is in the room, a tactic like this can really help you gauge both the general culture and whether you’d have an issue in your own team, and you can self-select out as needed.

      6. n*

        A lot of larger cities have Facebook groups for LGBTQ people who are looking for jobs… so it gives you a chance to ask for job recommendations and ask other LGBTQ people about their experiences with an employer.

      7. i did, i did, i did*

        Things like “do they march in/sponsor Pride” can help (if nothing else, they probably have an HR department who cares that they look friendly to the community), but a lot of it does come down to the individual people, alas.

        It can help to look around the office a little bit at the other people who work there. Does everyone fit a cookie cutter image? Or is there diversity? The more diverse they are, it’s likely they’re more open to diversity in other ways, even if you would be the first person of your identity.

        1. DreamingInPurple*

          I’d be careful though of looking around the office and deciding that since there are many visible racial minorities then they must be LGBT-positive. I come from a racial minority group and I would say it’s generally less accepting of LGBT people – especially those of us who are “out”, because that’s something that is expected to be kept on the down-low. YMMV.

        2. Temperance*

          Eh, actually, this is not a great barometer. Some of the most racially diverse orgs I work with are some of the most explicitly Christian and not super welcoming to queer folks.

      8. JR*

        The Human Rights Campaign does a corporate index ranking employees based on LGBT-friendly policies and statements. It will only include larger employers, and it’s more about the company’s formal positions than informal employee culture, but it’s a good starting place. It might also give you good ideas about policies and such that you can ask about at smaller employers.

      9. Movetowardbetterthings*

        I look at the C-suite first on a company’s webpage. Are they all older white dudes? I sincerely doubt diversity and inclusion is going to be a high priority. From a general standpoint, I’m looking for at least a 40/60 gender split and the presence of people of color. If there’s a dearth of either I think it’s a good indicator that LGBTQ issues are going to be even lower on their priority list. I also look to see on their website (or candidate application) if they have an EEO statement or general policy about how they treat minorities. When you’re interviewing, ask about women in management – you can have a lot of lip service but it’s pretty obvious if you don’t promote women to leadership positions.

        From growing up in the South, when I go into businesses, I notice things like background music – is a Christian rock station playing? Does desk decor indicate a preference for one religion? Do they ask me where I go to church? Being religious doesn’t necessarily mean you’re conservative, but it’s more likely, at least from what I’ve experienced.

        When I moved from Raleigh area NC to Boston MA I think the biggest shock was how matter of fact people are about it here. In my office, we have a Slack channel (internal messaging system) for LGBTQ identifying people to chat and I actually started joining in. A senior leader is a lesbian and literally has a pride flag tacked to her wall. A guy from another department mentioned he’s going on a date with another dude at the lunch table this week. It’s very difficult to communicate how different that feels now that I know what it’s like to have that openness versus its absence in the workplace.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Eddie Cue is hispanic, and Johny Srouji is Arabic. Also, two women – general counsel can be a significant role.

        1. Arabella Flynn*

          Yeah, I moved from a much more conservative area to Greater Boston, and did a double-take the first time I saw a church with a rainbow flag over the door. Then again when I realized the central library replaces 4 of the 5 American flags on the front with rainbow banners for the month of June. A friend of mine brought his (trans) wife along when he attended a conference here. They also live in a much more conservative area and she was nervous about being in the city alone. We urged her to go downtown and take fun pictures rather than be bored in conference proceedings, and the most exciting thing that happened was that someone on the Common tried to sell her a joint.

          I like it considerably better here.

      10. Enbie sea*

        Many organizations will proactively post a statement about equity in their job ads or on their websites. Sometimes this is just lip service, but every now and again you’ll run across a statement that goes above and beyond what the law requires for a given location and that is often a good sign about inclusivity.

        This is also an area where I lean on my local queer community, as well as my broader professional network. You pick up cues over time about the culture of different companies as you interact with them professionally. And listening to the scuttlebut!

      11. BatmansRobyn*

        One thing you can do without really raising any alarm bells is ask to meet the team, if possible. When I interviewed for my current job, I did one content-based interview with the team I work on, and then a second culture-fit interview with people from our whole group. It gave me a really solid sense of the people I’d be working with (lots of easily-identifiable religious diversity, pretty wide swath of age ranges). I was also able to see just enough of the office to tell that some people had rainbow flags/tchotchkes in their cube decorations. If that’s not feasible, you could also make some sort of casual reference to your “partner” (regardless of your sexual orientation–I’m a queer lady engaged to a dude!) and see how people react.

        Management was all very careful to be totally neutral in presentation (the hiring manager, when not interviewing, wears some small religious jewelry), but getting to meet the people who would be my coworkers was really helpful in figuring out that this was somewhere I wanted to work and whether general values lined up.

        1. Soft Gray*

          Oh, I really like the idea of asking to meet the team. Thanks! It’s probably a wise idea to do for a cultural fit even aside from the queerness. I got to eat lunch out with my coworkers during my onsite interview, and I got a feel that seems to have been fairly accurate.

      12. toomanybooks*

        Just want to chime in to say that obviously we’d all prefer a more progressive workplace where we’ll be accepted but in practice that’s not easy to just do! I wasn’t ever in a situation where I was like “Hmm, I could work for this supportive office or this homophobic office, which to choose?” I had a limited amount of places to choose from to get a job in my field where I lived and I chose one. For a long time I didn’t say a thing about being gay. I think my department only realized it when I got engaged. I had previously said I moved in with my girlfriend but they assumed I meant a girl who was a friend, apparently. And enough straight people use the term “partner” now that I can’t assume someone is gay from that – in fact in my experience, other gays are largely over it because now we are allowed to get married instead of just having legal domestic partnerships, and it’s now mostly used by liberal straight people who want a more serious sounding term for boyfriend or girlfriend.

        I guess what I’m saying is, FYI to people who are not queer, it’s really not that easy to just “find an accepting workplace” unless it’s like actually a gay rights org or something?

      13. Kelsi*

        This won’t help at the interview (unless there’s a professionally appropriate way to ask to see it?), but in a new job you might get some clues from the employee handbook. In addition to specifically mentioning sexual orientation in our diversity/equal opportunity section, there’s this in the dress code:

        “[Agency]’s dress code does not restrict employees’ clothing or appearance on the basis of gender. Transgender and gender non-conforming employees have the right to comply with company dress codes in a manner consistent with their gender identity or gender expression.”

        Which obviously is more about the T part of the acronym, but is a good indicator of the culture overall. While I don’t work closely right now with anyone else who’s queer and out (and I’m only sort of out, given I’m currently in what looks like a heterosexual relationship so it doesn’t come up that often), I’ve had multiple previous coworkers who were out at work and whose wives were welcome at agency functions, and I’ve never overhead the kind of casual homophobia I’ve encountered elsewhere.

      14. Heuristic Chick*

        I have started asking “What kind of employee resource groups / diversity and inclusion initiatives does your organization have?” in interviews. Granted, that is a more-relevant question in interviews for larger orgs, but it’s gotten me some good insight!

        Spoiler: a stammering “uh. . . we haven’t really. . . thought about that?” Not. Great.

      15. Polaris*

        I work in a legal type organization, and I was able to see from their website that they had done work on behalf of LGBTQ organizations, among other issues important to me. That won’t be obvious everywhere, but if your prospective employer does any sort of philanthropy, you can see what organizations they support.

      16. Giant Homosexual*

        Very fast way: put it on your resume! Then when you advance, they’ve known from the beginning.

        I don’t actually put “Giant Homosexual” on my resume (though it’s certainly a bonus IMO), but I maintain an “Other Experience” section solely for this purpose. Like, “President, Albuquerque Lesbian and Bisexual Hockey Team”. Shows leadership and homosexuality in one go. If you don’t have this already? Take Taylor out to brunch and boom, you’ve founded a gay men’s social club.

        This undoubtedly costs me interviews and requires a certain amount of privilege. But, if you’ve got that, it helps you get a job worth having.

        (Late to the party but I think this is the easiest, fastest way and I didn’t see it! Also like the advice about asking about employee resources and out employees in an interview.)

    4. sunny-dee*

      Although, somewhat in defense of the office, we don’t know if they’re not LGBT friendly or if they’re just uncomfortable because they thought (and the OP really supported) that they were in a hetero relationship, and it would just be weird to find out the OP had essentially been lying to them for months. I’m not even sure how I would respond — on the one hand, it’s not a big deal, but on the other hand, it just creates an awkwardness. Like, do you address it? Do you ignore it? Do you apologize or ask for the OP to apologize …?

      People don’t like awkwardness and they never handle it well.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Or you could understand and recognize the very real, very reasonable reasons why someone would do something like that, have some sympathy for them, and treat them like they had been upfront the whole time. Society as a whole created a world where people still don’t feel safe or comfortable being upfront, and if we aren’t doing our part to be explicit about our rejecting of that world, then we are participating in furthering it. Maybe there is some scenario where it would be too awkward to do so right away, but this one isn’t it.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Or just treat him like ‘I made a wrong assumption’ instead of like they were ‘essentially lying’.

          It is not OP’s (or any LBGTQx person’s) ‘fault’ when coworkers make assumptions.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Staying in the closet is not lying.

        No one is entitled to have that kind of trust placed in them by a coworker.

        Frankly, if the OP’s coworkers are upset about that, it probably still won’t be a genuinely friendly workplace, because that’s some seriously f**ked up entitlement.

        1. i did, i did, i did*


          Being in the closet happens out of a lot of things. One of them is a very serious, very real fear. It only takes one coworker who isn’t Cool With It for this to get pretty bad for OP.

          People gotta earn that trust. It’s not given by default.

          1. many bells down*

            Yeah, I mean, I’m a cis bisexual woman married to a man. Am I “lying” if I don’t tell my co-workers I’m bisexual? Should I be coming out 5 times a day and oh whoops there’s a new employee who doesn’t know yet?

            Coming out isn’t usually a one-time thing, and frankly I think that’s a lot of work to ask of someone by itself, let alone call it “lying” if you don’t.

            1. AnnaBananna*

              I know, right?

              Nobody owes anybody any-damn-thing. I honestly hate the idea of ‘coming out’, and I wish it would die a fast death. I know it’s not possible for at least another generation (gotta get ‘ol Doris out of the ballot box first), but seriously…ain’t your biz, you know?

                1. jenkins*

                  Me five! I’m default closeted to almost everyone these days because how do you even bring it up in conversation? After moving to yet another new area where everyone assumed I was straight, I just got too tired to keep doing the awkward mention.

                2. Quoth the Raven*

                  Me eight! (Not legally married to him, but we’ve been together for almost 12 years, so we consider ourselves so)

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          I was gonna say. It’s not lying to not disclose one’s sexuality…whatever it may be…to others in the workplace or elsewhere. It’s private!!!

        3. Sunny-dee*

          It’s lying if you tell people (or strongly imply) your partner is female when, in fact he’s male. Which the OP did – he spoke a lot about his personal life and his partner but implied he was a woman. For months. It’s not the gay relationship that would be awkward. And people are allowed to keep their private lives private. But that’s not what happened here. The lying about it AFTER TALKING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP is awkward.

          1. jenkins*

            OK, but OP had excellent reasons for feeling like he needed to do that, and in any case he got steamrollered by everyone’s blind assumption that his fiance would be female. Maybe there’s some awkwardness there, but the right, kind and decent thing for the coworkers to do would be to bear in mind those excellent reasons and act as if they feel no awkwardness whatsoever.

          2. Random Commenter*

            He didn’t imply though. People assumed she was a woman because of heteronormativity, which isn’t his fault. He just let them. And with good reason.

          3. Temperance*

            Um, no. It’s actually homophobic to assume that when a person speaks about their partner, and uses gender neutral language, that they’re straight. It’s on the person assuming that everyone is just like them to correct their thinking.

            He didn’t lie. He ended up in an awkward situation that could have had bad implications for his safety.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I have to take issue with you saying this is homophobic. I’m not homophobic, never have been… and I generally don’t think about who someone’s partner is unless it’s mentioned.
              I’ve still felt surprised when someone I know casually mentions a same-sex partner. I think it’s because well over 90% of all the people I’ve ever known have been hetero. It’s because hetero is more common, and has nothing to do with homophobia.
              Going around trying to determine who is gay and making sure I don’t feel surprised if they mention it is an unreasonable expectation IMHO. I don’t say or do anything to hurt them, I just blink and move on. It’s a reach to say this reaction is homophobic!

              1. Polaris*

                It’s not really on you as a straight person to decide what is or isn’t homophobic, and you can make homophobic assumptions unconsciously simply because society has trained you to accept “heterosexual” as the default. You can say that 90% of the people you’ve ever known are heterosexual, but unless you’ve asked everyone you’ve ever met their sexuality (and they were comfortable enough to tell you the truth, people do lie about this out of fear for their safety and fear of losing friends/family over it, and bisexuals exist who find it safer to let others assume they’re straight when they’re in a heterosexual relationship), you can’t know that for certain. Assuming that someone you meet is heterosexual until proven otherwise is, in fact, a homophobic assumption. As you say you’re not homophobic, the way to fix that is easy: don’t assume someone’s partner is the opposite sex until it’s confirmed to you, and try to keep your language gender neutral; and don’t assume that if the partner IS of the opposite sex that either of them are 100% straight.

                1. A different Julia*

                  What you’re suggesting I do with every single person I meet is way too much work! I’m not going to think about everyone’s partner because I have other things to do with my mental energy.
                  A quick google indicates no more than 13% of the population is gay. Interesting article in my username.
                  Of course that may be biased as some may not have been truthful. So let’s round it up to 30%. It’s still less than half.
                  You’re right that I’ve probably known people casually without knowing they’re gay. I don’t care who their partner is! It’s not my business. Why should someone who is bisexual have to go around explaining that to everyone? It’s no one’s business beyond the people they have relationships with.
                  I stand by my statement that feeling a little surprised when someone turns out to be in a minority is not homophobia. Changing my opinion or the way I treat them would be, but I don’t. I really don’t care. Whatever makes them happy is good.

          4. Nephron*

            Everyone with an invisible disability that goes through an interview without disclosing that disability is implying they do not need ADA accommodation. Did they lie during the interview?

            Everyone with kids that does not mention them during the interview is implying they will not need time off for caring for sick kids. Did they lie?

            Anyone actively trying to start a family while applying for jobs. Did they lie by not disclosing that?

            In the state I live it is legal for someone to fire or evicted from their house for being gay or transgender. Are they liars for not telling their bosses or landlords?

      3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        I’ve been in that situation and just thought I was a goof for assuming a hetero relationship based on assumptions rather than facts. OP never said their fiance was a woman. People just jumped to conclusions

        1. valentine*

          Unless one of the people in the relationship tells you they’re both straight, you’re assuming.

        2. Gayked and Afraid*

          I appreciate you having my back, but when my boss talked about meeting my wife I kept the conversation going, and used female pronouns for Taylor. Not sure if that changes your outlook on my situation.

          1. beth*

            It doesn’t for me. You weren’t ready to come out, so when you were forced to either disclose or dodge, you chose to protect your boundaries in regards to your private life. I don’t think that’s any kind of sin–it’s okay to not be ready to come out even in an explicitly safe, welcoming environment, and this sounds significantly less supportive than that.

          2. jenkins*

            You were backed into a corner with no time to consider, and you did what felt safe in the moment. That’s OK. It’s not your fault that you couldn’t be sure of a supportive environment, it’s theirs.

          3. Temperance*

            Not at all. If we didn’t live in a shitty homophobic society, you wouldn’t have felt the need to deal with any of this.

      4. ElspethGC*

        OP was not lying. Coming out is dangerous, both in terms of employment and actual safety. You’re seriously asking that all queer people put themselves in danger by being completely open about this stuff because you don’t want the straight people in the office to feel lied to?

        Asking OP to apologise would be… Wow.

        “I need you to apologise for not correcting me even though I was the one who made the assumption that you’re engaged to a woman and even though coming out at work can lead to you being fired. Because you hurt my feelings. Never mind the fact that you were scared of being fired or losing out on job opportunities. Because my feelings are more important than that.”

        No. No no no. If someone asked me to apologise because I didn’t out myself to them when I wasn’t comfortable with being out, they would be going on my ‘no contact unless necessary list’.

        1. DreamingInPurple*

          Thank you – your comment is really well put, and much much better than the response I was about to have to the idea of the OP apologizing to *anybody* for this.

      5. Artemesia*

        I worked with closeted people most of my career and even when things changed and it was more possible to be open, many older people didn’t come out. They might be out to friends but they didn’t make an issue of it professionally. I don’t consider this lying, but rather self preservation and discretion. I would never judge someone for doing what they think they need to do to preserve themselves professionally.

        1. It's mce*

          I worked at a temp job in which I helped to promote a job fair for LGBT workers. I suggested sending it to government job placement agencies and an advisor told me that older LGBT workers are hesitant to go to them out of fear of discrimination. Remember, they lived a time when it was just about criminal to be gay.

          1. Temperance*

            Friendly reminder here, so did all of us. Anyone commenting here has lived through a time where men could be and have been prosecuted for engaging in consensual sexual activity.

        2. AnnaBananna*

          Military, I assume? Ya, it took a while for folks to get comfortable post-DADT. There are still folks who are scared – rightly so – because they come from military families and are worried about the good ‘ol boy network that still exists and quietly (and stealthily) makes things difficult to this day. It’s BS.

      6. Leslie knope*

        Do we really need to rehash the “But LYING” perpetuated by the straight commenters in the original post…

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, and it is… unless it’s the boss or CEO. Then it’s good to try to manage the way they feel about you.
              There are lots of discussions here about doing that in various situations – don’t want the boss to feel bad about you because it affects your work life…

      7. MassMatt*

        I don’t want to jump on Sunny, and in this particular situation there was more than the usual amount of “hiding” by not correcting someone’s gender assumption.

        But I definitely want to push back on the idea that being in the closet is lying. Or if it is, it’s lying in self-defense. It is extremely unfair that society at large dumps shame and opprobrium on LGBTQ people, AND judges them as lying when finding out they were not volunteering their identity.

        As enormous as the strides toward acceptance have been over the last 50 years, there are still MANY areas, families, and workplaces where being openly LGBTQ is NOT SAFE. And even where it might be, many have experienced or experienced enough discrimination and trauma that makes them understandably wary.

        1. Gayked and Afraid*

          This ^ It is a necessary evil. Gay people are taught from a young age that being silent will save us.

      8. Observer*

        I’ll be honest and say I don’t know how I would respond either. But I really can’t imagine asking for an apology. I mean what are they supposed to apologize for?

      9. Courageous cat*

        Why should OP apologize to soothe *your* awkwardness though? You’re not the victim here.

      10. Traffic_Spiral*

        I’m old enough to remember being closeted as the default, so it doesn’t strike me as deception – it was just sorta understood that being gay was probably not something that a person told you about unless the two of you were really close. That’s still a delicate enough issue that you don’t have a right to demand that information from others.

        Also, I’m dense enough that unless there was an active beard situation, my response would be “huh, I must have missed that. I really should pay more attention when people talk about their home life.”

        1. YB*

          I feel strongly that the OP wasn’t lying, and am sad to see him beating himself up for that in this update.

  3. Amber Rose*

    I’m so sorry that this experience was not ideal for you LW, but I hope wherever you move and whatever happens next for you makes it all worthwhile.

  4. Time to Get That Arranged Marriage My Parents Want*

    Sigh. Life never turns out like we expect. I hope you and your fiancé find a happy life together wherever you move to.

  5. kelly white*

    I’m so sorry that it went down that way for you- I hope you and your partner find a place where you can feel more supported!

  6. bopper*

    I would still ask one of my closest team friends…’hey I heard you all went out to lunch yesterday…any reason I didn’t get an invite?”

    1. AK*

      agreed, if only to give yourself some short term peace of mind while making the move to a new place/job/etc.

    2. Lance*

      I very much agree with this; if you haven’t yet, definitely ask someone. Maybe they’ll say it was a mistake, maybe they’ll say it was in fact because of this revelation… maybe they’ll even be dishonest. At the bare minimum, though, I think it would be worth at least having some sort of closure on the issue, even if you do ultimately decide to move away regardless.

      1. Long Time Lurker*

        I want to disagree with this- while closure might be helpful in a different circumstance, I can’t imagine that getting confirmation that my coworkers were excluding me for my sexual orientation would be in any way helpful.

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          Or the very obvious blowing of smoke up one’s rear end instead of answering truthfully. I’m also a “no” in this. Especially since OP is moving on anyway. Just disengage and keep moving forward.

        2. Socks*

          I dunno, if I already suspected that that was the reason (rather than just hearing it out of nowhere or something), I’d find it a relief to know for sure that that WAS the reason. I am way more uncomfortable with uncertainty, and with wondering whether or not I’m just being irrational or paranoid, than I am with mentally categorizing the people around me as jerks. Confirmation would let me do that second thing, which is just a way more psychologically comfortable position for me to be in.

          In the first situation it’s like “am I doing something wrong here? am I reading too much into this? was that action an intentional slight or a coincidence? homophobia sucks” whereas in the latter situation it’s like “oh, well, Fergus is definitely being an ass today, homophobia sucks” and I’ve managed to skip a whole unnecessarily unpleasant train of thought.

          In both cases, it’s still upsetting that people are excluding me for my sexual orientation- I don’t skip being upset about that just because they still have plausible deniability. But I could see that not being the case for everyone, where that plausible deniability WOULD help, so it’s really a matter of knowing yourself, I guess? If OP is more like me, then he might benefit from asking. If he’s more like you, then he probably shouldn’t. Actually, it would be good for OP to be aware of which reaction he’s more likely to have, so he can act accordingly in other situations as well, since this could very well come up again in the future.

          1. Lissa*

            Same, for me! Honestly I think this is about knowing yourself psychologically – some people legitimately do want to send that last message, or ask for a confirmation, and it really does help. Others feel opposite, and lately I notice the tenor of advice is “don’t do it, closure isn’t real” and I get that, but for some people it really can and does help. So I think OP should do what’s best for him. Personally if I was leaving anyway, I’d ask.

        3. Jules K*

          Firstly I should clarify that I do not consider the OP’s sexuality a disability. However, reading this letter was interesting to me because the OP’s feelings around coming out were surprisingly similar to my feelings around letting people know about my invisible disabilities. It suddenly seemed as though every tiny perceived slight might be related to my disabilities, so I finally asked.
          I can tell you that in that case, having my suspicions confirmed did NOT do me any favors.

          1. Alex the Alchemist*

            Yeah, as someone who’s both queer and has invisible disabilities, I’m firmly in the camp of not asking, especially since you’re moving on anyways. To me, whether or not the exclusion is due to my identity, ability, or any other reason still has the same impact on me- I’m still being excluded, and as someone who prefers at least a little socialization in the places I work, that doesn’t feel good to me. So I’d say the best thing is to move on and start over where you don’t have that same history as your current workplace.

            1. Jennifer*

              I can say from experience that you’re not going to feel better asking someone why they hate and shun you. Take the hint and go away, basically.

      2. Artemesia*

        I disagree. I would however be a little more proactive about asking to be included as in ‘I am thinking of getting BBQ, anyone want to go to Mary’s for lunch this week?’ Or ‘are you guys planning to get lunch today?’ I would think it would be a self fulfilling prophesy to ask ‘did you exclude me from lunch because I am gay?’ Everyone is going to feel uncomfortable with that and I don’t think it gets you what you want. With a little assertiveness maybe you can get over the bump at work with this social awkwardness on their part.

        Hope if you do move that it works out well for both of you.

        1. Mayati*

          Yeah, someone who did exclude OP on that basis would likely say “omg no! I didn’t even know you were…that way! I’m not homophobic, I have a gay friend!” and then carry on discriminating. At least where I live (a notoriously non-confrontational state). People want to seem nice when they do mean things, and people want to be homophobic without being called homophobes.

          If they DO actually say “no, that’s not why,” then OP will be left wondering whether that’s the real reason or they just didn’t want to admit to outright discrimination.

          Your suggestions are great. They don’t get through the deeper problem of OP not feeling accepted at work, but if OP is forced to stick it out in this workplace, they can help in the short run — and if OP is lucky, he’ll become more included over time and learn that his orientation isn’t really a big deal to his coworkers. But “no big deal” isn’t something he can assume — it’s something his workplace has to prove to him. Those of us who are queer don’t have the luxury of assuming we’ll be accepted until proven wrong, which is why the burden falls on people in positions of power (bosses, HR departments, schools, governments, socially influential people) to make their allyship to LGBTQ community members explicit.

          1. Avasarala*

            This is exactly it. People who are unconsciously biased will just feel vaguely uncomfortable being around OP, maybe even attributing it to something about his work or his personality. And they will deny any accusation thrown at them, because most people do not think they themselves are homophobic/racist/etc. so they may genuinely think they are not bigoted. I like the positive invite for lunch, if nothing else it might show OP who is a true ally while he focuses on getting out of there.

    3. Roscoe*

      Totally agree here. I’m not trying to minimize anything, but I think it would take an extremely fast spread of gossip for everyone to find out, then everyone to decide to shun you. I mean, its very possible that you will get “we were upset that you felt you needed to mislead us” or possibly worse. However, I do think that if you are planning to leave anyway, finding out could make you at least feel a bit better. You’ll find out it was just an oversight, or these people are bigots. Either way, I think I’d rather know

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah. I think LW should give it some time. Right now it could just be a misunderstanding, and even if there is some awkwardness, it could blow over in a week or two.

    4. Lumen*

      I don’t what OP is saying though is that no matter what his coworkers do or say, it’s too easy for him to worry and wonder and second-guess in that environment. It sounds less like he needs a fresh start because his coworkers are homophobic and more because HE needs a fresh start to free himself from some of this anxiety.

      1. JB*

        Agreed. It seems like OP is making an assumption and this is more about their insecurity than anyone’s actual behavior.

        1. Lumen*

          I think that’s oversimplifying it a bit. The nuance here is that LGBTQA+ folks have *very good reason* to feel these fears and insecurities and worries. And there really isn’t a way for him to be sure, at this workplace, that he ISN’T being seen differently or treated differently. The fact that he’s willing to entertain the possibility that there are other, more reasonable explanations for being excluded from lunch (for example) is really just a mark of his maturity and kindness.

    5. Colette*

      Just asking the question can cause harm to the relationship, though. Sometimes the answer is “because you weren’t at your desk when we left” or “it was an impromptu lunch because Pat got some good news” or “you’ve said no the last 3 times we asked” or “Oh, you don’t like the restaurant we went to” – and it would be tricky to ask without coming across like you think they are required to invite you every time. Maybe it’s a personal snub, but it’s just as likely that it has nothing to do with the OP at all.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Agreed. In OP’s place, I would extend a few invites here and there and make sure to “re-connect” with people now that the news is “out”. Let them see that OP is still the same person he was when they knew him before he “came out” (again), he’s discussing the same things and making the same jokes. Wait a couple of weeks and see how they respond. It’s torturous to have to keep doing this and I get wanting to move somewhere that you don’t have to put yourself through that every time you “come out”, but it’s how I would handle it in this moment while wait for the relo to pan out. Just to not feel so damn isolated.

      2. Christmas Carol*

        or maybe they got together over lunch to start planning a surprise engagement party for you………..

        1. Temperance*

          Okay I know that it’s a Thing here to jump through hoops to find the most charitable interpretation of any situation, but we all know that this is not what was happening. Come on.

    6. KimberlyR*

      If OP suddenly feels paranoid that his sexuality is an issue with his coworkers now that its widely known, maybe he’s picking up on subtle clues that he cannot articulate. It is possible that slight tone of voice changes and subtle body language cues are giving him this hint. I think OP has likely been in enough situations, ranging from warm and welcoming to downright homophobic, that he can likely trust his gut in this regard. Although I am not a lesbian and have not had to do this, I imagine one would be anxiously checking for signs of welcome versus not, and would draw the correct conclusions based on these cues.

      1. rogue axolotl*

        I’m guessing that the LW’s gut feeling about this workplace was right, to some degree. There was something about this group of people that made him reluctant to come out to them, and there is something now that feels uncomfortable. It is always hard to be sure whether people are treating you badly because of bigotry or some other reason, but as a marginalized person, you can become pretty good at reading subtle cues that you’re not welcome.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Or, he could be projecting his anxiety. The only way to know for sure is to see what happens in the next few weeks.

  7. Aphrodite*

    This update makes me sad. I find it hard–thought obviously it is not impossible–to believe that no one in your company still wants to be close to you. If I was there, I would. However, what you two are doing will probably turn out to be the best thing and who knows, in two years you might look back on this situation and give thanks because it set you on a new and truly happy path.

    Best of luck to both you and Taylor, OP. I look forward to another cheerier update.

    1. Tammy*

      Depending on the size of the company, I don’t find it hard to believe at all, unfortunately. When I was outed at a past job (as a transgender woman who was in an outwardly lesbian-appearing relationship), the change from “everyone likes Tammy the IT person” to “eww, stay away from THAT person, they don’t belong here” happened in a matter of days.

      I would have found another job and left when it did, but I didn’t have time to do that. Within less than three weeks, I was told by a coworker “you already have three strikes against you – you’re [religious slur], you’re [LGBT slur] and you’re fat, and you should really try harder to fit in.” Within a week thereafter, I was placed on administrative leave (for a contrived reason) and then told I could either resign with severance or be terminated.

      When people decide you’re now a “them” and not an “us”, the retribution can be shockingly swift and vicious, I’m afraid. :-(

      1. DreamingInPurple*

        Yes. And even if they don’t attack like your co-worker did (which is awful and I am so sad that you had to go through that), somebody can be frozen out of socialization almost instantly, which would lead to missed opportunities even if there was never any overt discrimination.

      2. RVA Cat*

        Tammy, I’m so sorry this happened to you.

        It says everything about what’s wrong with the world when someone who uses two slurs (!) against you keeps their job and you get forced out. Plus eww on the “try harder to fit in” – if being a bigot is what it takes, Holy Hanukkah Balls no!

  8. Long Time Lurker*

    Best of luck with your move and new start to both you and your fiance, OP, and I hope you have a long and happy life together.

  9. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I am so sorry things turned out like this for you. I hope you are able to find a position with a company where you are comfortable being yourself.

    It is unfortunate that we have to be so careful about these things and I hope someday it becomes unnecessary.

    1. Catherine*

      At my previous job, I had a colleague (G) who I knew via mutual friends is gay. We were pretty good work friends, but he talked about his home life in a way that avoided mentioning the gender of his partner, so I followed his lead and didn’t mention. I think he didn’t realise I was aware.

      Then, a couple of years ago we both attended a work dinner with colleagues from several different countries. A Russian colleague assumed G was married to a woman and kept asking lots of questions about his wife/personal life – what does she do, do you have kids, are you going to have kids etc etc. She was persistant and a bit pushy, it’s just her manner. I noticed how he was so careful in answering in a way that did not out himself without seeming to avoid the question and while shutting her down.

      Sitting across the table, it really brought it home to me how every conversation like that involves him either performing verbal acrobatics to avoid /dodge questions or disclosing his sexuality. Some of the colleagues were from countries where it could be illegal / dangerous / socially disastrous to be openly gay.

      The lesson I took from that dinner was that, despite being incredibly nosy by nature, be really careful about asking questions about colleague’s personal lives, even if they seem quite innocuous.

  10. Ali G*

    I’m sorry the people you work with did not handle this well at all. While you shouldn’t have to, I think you will find a huge weight lifted when you any Taylor can settle in a place that allows you to be yourselves and engage with your community and places of work.
    I’ve worked in 3 different LGBT friendly offices (my first started offering health benefits to domestic partners before it was mainstream) – so we are out there!

  11. CM*

    OP, I wonder if time will help… is it possible that things will return to normal at work and you’ll stop feeling so trapped? But it sounds like you’re in an area where you really don’t feel safe being yourself regardless of what happens at work, and are now considering moving somewhere different. So, whether time will help or not, I think you should come here to Massachusetts where you can be happily out without feeling victimized. :)

    1. neeko*

      Massachusetts is better than some places in terms of LGBTQ rights but is not a universally cool with people being out without feeling victimized. We are quite literally voting on transgender rights today.

      1. Moo*

        Yeah, maybe Boston or a few other cities would be fine with it, but I know many people who are voting No on Prop 3 today. TBH, I know we’re really a blue state, but there are some serious pockets of red around where I live that make me a little nervous for the fate of that particular law. Personally, I’m voting YES and I don’t care who knows it.

        1. MassMatt*

          Not to derail too much on our state’s politics, but I would say that the state is heavily democratic, but historically not as liberal as that makes many people think. There were many conservative democrats, and many voters took their cue on social issues from the Catholic Church. The state had a solidly anti-choice legislature when I moved here in 1989, and while Boston had an antidiscrimination ordnance that included sexual orientation, the state did not for many years. Yes we were the first state to have marriage equality, so that is something to be proud of.

          And yes a scurrilous group of bathroom fear-mongers are trying to remove transgendered people from the antidiscrimination law, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that our state DOES include transgender in the law.

          1. Boston anon*

            Plus Boston is super racist (see Daily Show special on it). So let’s not act like everyone living in MA is liberal and therefore good on all counts.

          2. Moo*

            I am very happy to see that the law is being upheld, though. I was very thrown when I realized that this had actually been brought to a vote. It’s good that it’s not being repealed.

        1. Seespotbitejane*

          Hell, I’m in Portland, Oregon and I’ve still worked in offices that I haven’t felt comfortable being out it. But I’d still rather be here x1000 than in my rural home town.

          1. SQL Coder Cat*

            Fellow Portlander here. While I definitely have friends that are out and proud, I also have friends that are partially in the closet. It’s dependent on so many factors- I doubt there is anywhere in the US where you can honestly say, “Oh, you can be out there, no one cares.” I still feel awful every time I think of how scared one of my new coworkers was this spring to tell me she was gay.

            Good luck with your fresh start, OP. I have friends who have decided to move so they could start over ‘out,’ and they’ve all been happy with the decision. I hope you and your partner find the right place for you both.

            1. Anna*

              Yep. Portland is a lot more liberal and accepting but that doesn’t mean it’s some sort of liberal utopia. For one, we are a city surrounded by smaller communities. Two, Portland isn’t a monolithic culture.

          1. No Mas Pantalones*

            I was kinda hoping to get ahead without ’em, ya know? :-p (thank you for making me laugh today–definitely much needed!)

        1. Lumen*

          This. I live in a staunchly liberal part of a “swing” state, and I’m only moderately comfortable being out at work (and not “very” out, either) because a respected member of HR is out. I literally cannot think of another coworker who is queer, though. I doubt they aren’t around. I think we all just choose to mostly keep it to ourselves, because the company and leadership are rather conservative.

          It really depends on where you work. Plenty of places follow the letter of the law but don’t hire/promote anyone who is “too obvious”, for sooome reason. Plenty of places are nominally open/accepting, but sooomehow, LGBTQA+ people are still excluded from committees or social situations.

          1. DreamingInPurple*

            In a lot of those nominally accepting places, people are basically ok with you if you’re “discreet” – which by their metrics means you may be peeking out the door but you’re still standing in the closet. :/

          2. Kelsi*

            Yeah. I’m in a blue city in a red state. My workplace is fine, but like–my sister worked at a Catholic hospital and couldn’t even tell her coworkers she wasn’t Catholic without the possibility of being shunned. There are companies here where you can’t admit you’re a Democrat without getting subtly blocked out of advancement forever. It’s definitely not magically a place where it’s safe to be openly queer just because the political scene skews liberal.

      1. Kitrona*

        I’m out at school, but my girlfriend isn’t out at work (except to a couple people, but that’s more “I can trust you/you’re also not mainstream”). We live in Georgia and I go to school in South Carolina… but my school seems very liberal, and not just for the South. (I’m actually impressed by it.)

      2. Polaris*

        I’m comfortable and my current job here in Massachusetts, but I have worked at places that were terrifyingly homophobic and places that were low-key hostile, within the last five years. It’s maybe easier to find good places out here, but safety’s not guaranteed.

    2. Kristine*

      Seconding Massachusetts. Our office has many LGBTQ+ employees who are with/married to same sex partners and nobody has ever blinked an eye. On my first day at this office I happened to meet my (male) teammate’s fiance because he dropped by for lunch and everyone else on the team was friendly with the fiance and asked questions about their upcoming wedding. That’s just normal here.

    3. CM*

      neeko and McWhadden, you’re right, my comment was a little glib and there are unfortunately very few places that are totally cool with letting people be who they are without censure. (And I am also appalled that we are voting on civil rights, but confident that we will do the right thing.)

      But I still extend an invitation to the OP and his fiance to join us here in Massachusetts. My kids attend public school in a town near Boston and there are families of all types, colors, and compositions here. After growing up in an intolerant environment, I really appreciate the diversity here.

    4. anon today and tomorrow*

      Uh. I’ve received a lot of crap for being bisexual in Massachusetts, and there are definitely places I don’t feel safe being out. A flew places I’ve worked have been some of them.

      We’re liberal, but not free of bias and victimizing LGBTQA+ individuals. I’ve also felt this way when in other so-called LGBTQA+ friendly cities like New York and San Francisco.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        Yeah…my knee jerk reaction was “come to the PNW” but stopped because as noted above my another one of us, it’s not actually a utopia here either.

        The blue areas are surrounded by red and it’s not like we have a mote around the city that swallows intolerance.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          Yeah. I mean, when it comes down to it, I’d rather be in Boston where my rights are protected than a city where they’re not, but it’s not like it’s 100% tolerance and acceptance. I find a lot of liberal cities tend to have more internalized biases and homophobia that they’re less willing to confront, which is just as hard to fight back against because it comes from people who think they’re being accepting.

          An inclusive environment doesn’t necessarily mean there are no problems.

        2. Lumen*

          So true. Oregon has a ballot initiative further restricting reproductive health, for example. A lot of places we consider to be liberal strongholds are just blue islands in deep red seas.

          1. ThankYouRoman*

            The one about public funding, right? I moved north awhile ago but recall seeing some ads for something about finding. I’m still shook by Measure 36 passing over a decade ago. Some people still have bumper stickers, it fills me with rainbow colored rage.

        3. Kj*

          Seattle is overall the best place I’ve lived for LGBTQ+ acceptance, but it isn’t perfect either. I do think that some professions are better about this than others even in liberal areas. I’m in social services and tons of my coworkers are LGBTQ+ and out about it.

          1. ThankYouRoman*

            Is there a Seattle Freeze in the community? I’m a perma hermit who knows nothing of this Freeze they speak of so I’m truly curious if it extends to the community or just frigid straight folk?

            That’s one of the reasons I’m slow to wave a person over here only to fear hearing it’s a hard place to melt into for those social creatures out there!

            1. Windchime*

              I’ve lived in the Seattle area for over 7 years and have met lots of really, really nice people. I think the freeze is a misperception; it’s not that people don’t want to hang out, but the traffic is so horrible that we arrange our lives around it. So sticking around for a happy hour, even for 45 minutes, could change my 40 minute commute to a couple of hours. If traffic wasn’t such a consideration, I think people would socialize more.

              As far as inclusivity, it depends on where you work. I work for a university and we help sponsor Pride activities. There is a male manager on my floor who has a husband, and I’ve seen more than one rainbow flag or sign in a cube or office. So my perception is that Seattle is pretty inclusive, but I’m not part of the LGBTQ community so I’m not a good authority on that.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              A bit, but the freeze actually helps the acceptance, because they both spring from the same concept of “so long as you don’t litter or shove in line, I really don’t care what you get up to.” So people are stand-offish, but they also don’t see it as their place to judge your private life.

      2. Anon right this moment*

        Yeah…though I have to note, the places I experienced the worst workplace discrimination were being run by transplants from more conservative areas who didn’t adjust well to the big city in many other ways. Just odd stuff like not driving in the city and taking the T instead, not understanding the importance of networking in New England and how everyone knows everyone else, not apparently enjoying the culture, complaining that we were spoiled rotten because they couldn’t mistreat people without getting high turnover.

        Seconding the bisexual discrimination for sure. There’s definitely a Scene that you’re supposed to fit into.

    5. Gayked and Afraid*

      Time will heal I am sure, especially with how relatively cleanly the whole situation resolved – it truly could have ended much, much worse. I just have little left here to stay for – most of my community was from the church, and since I have come out they no longer want “my lifestyle” around their families. My parents don’t want to attend my wedding, and I was asked to step down as a Bible study leader when I came out. This was just the final straw in what was a bitter and long chapter of my life – I want a fresh start.

      1. Avis*

        That all sucks. I hope you and your fiance find somewhere welcoming to start building a new family.

      2. Lumen*

        You’ve been through enough. I’m so sorry for all of this – it’s bullshit, it’s cruel, and you don’t deserve it. Honestly I’m so glad for you to realize that you’re DONE. You’re allowed to be done with this and move on. You deserve so, so much better.

      3. Astor*

        Good luck! I think you’re right that time and a fresh start will help. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost so much of your support, and I hope that you and your husband find a great community to start a new family. I know that there will still be struggles wherever you end up, but they really are so much easier to bear when you have those supports back in place and can grow them stronger than ever. Even just having the right church and friends can make it easier to bear a distant family and an awkward work situation.

        In case it helps to hear about others, I’m not a member and don’t attend synagogue but for me it’s even made a noticeably difference to my mental load moving from a city where my family’s synagogue was tentatively accepting of LGBT members to a different city where the main synagogue is actively accepting and programming for their LGBT members.

        I’m really looking forward to your new start and (while mine had different reasons) I hope it goes as well for you as mine did for me! A few people in my life clearly worried that I was running away from my problems, but it’s been really obvious that the new location has solved a lot of them and made others much easier to manage. You sound thoughtful and like you have the right kinds of goals to make it work.

  12. AnonEMoose*

    I’m so sorry. I hope, though, that you will find a place to move to that will feel like “home,” where you will feel free to be yourselves. And I wish you and your fiance all the best.

    While I’m at it, let me put in a plug for Minneapolis. Many people from outside the area don’t know it, but we have a strong and thriving GLBTQ+ community here. The climate isn’t for everyone, but the area does have a lot to offer.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I was also going to post and say “Come to Minneapolis!” It is a very strong community for GLBTQ+!

    2. Yorick*

      Yes, Minneapolis is a great place, and there are many businesses with headquarters here so there tend to be lots of jobs.

    3. Oranges*

      MN Lesbian here. I can say that if you can stand the winters and the fact that we’re reserved, MN is great. You do have to do more work to find friends so it might not be for you! I hope you find a place that feels like home!

    4. TCO*

      Another vote for Minneapolis! While we’re by no means perfect, there are a lot of LGBTQ-affirming employers here, everything from Fortune 500s to small nonprofits who are all proud to welcome LGBTQ employees. We have a labor shortage (I’m far more in demand than I was even a year or two ago), a housing market that’s more affordable than many of our peer cities like Seattle or Denver, a sophisticated arts scene, a civically-engaged population, and amazing parks and outdoor recreation.

      It can be hard to be a transplant here–Minnesotans tend to stay here at a higher rate because our quality of life is so high, so some new folks find it hard to break into established social circles of people who are culturally more reserved than in many places. People of color can find that particularly hard here. But I also know many people of all backgrounds who have moved here and love it!

      1. AnonEMoose*

        In most cases, it’s not so much that we’re not friendly – a lot of us just struggle to take it from “friendly acquaintances” to “friends.” So…if you want to befriend a native Minnesotan, you’re probably going to have to make the first move. We’re a quirky bunch, but most of us mean well.

        1. TCO*

          The classic stereotype: “Minnesotans will give you directions to anywhere except their own home.”

          But seriously, it’s pretty great here anyway and the community is so active that you’ll find your place and your people.

    5. AnonEMoose*

      If it’s of interest to you, we also have a strong science fiction/fantasy/geeky community here. We have multiple conventions, comic and gaming shops, etc. The community isn’t perfect, but is working on being more inclusive, and there are many GLBTQ folks, and increasing numbers of people of color, who are part of the community.

      1. Oranges*

        Shout out to the SciFi Wis-Con. It was all about sex positivity and social justice and scifi. It’s only a short drive away too! Highly recommend! (There were still issues but they were dealt with. First time attender and I didn’t even know about them until I talked to someone who was waaaay more plugged in than me).

        1. Madtown Gal*

          I will second that shout out to Wiscon! Also, Madison is a great city overall and definitely pretty GLBTQ friendly. The winters are still brutal, just like Minneapolis, but it’s amazing in the summer. With the University of WI here, there is always a lot of interesting things going on.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          I’ve never been to Minneapolis myself, but I accidentally went to a talk Andrea Jenkins was giving in another city, and it was absolutely phenomenal! I also love the webcomic “O Human Star” (link in username), which is a sci-fi drama set in near-future Minneapolis; a same-sex relationship and a character’s gender transition are both integral to the plot.

    6. Merula*

      Yes, Minneapolis!! (And also St. Paul….just feel like I have to represent the smaller, more boring half.)

      Most people don’t realize that there’s a lot of diversity in the Twin Cities. It’s not at all like what you saw in Fargo, Mighty Ducks or Jingle All The Way. ;)

    7. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Yes, come to Minneapolis! We have a good job market, reasonable cost of living, a truly wonderful queer community, and some of the best craft beers anywhere. There is a housing shortage right now (because people keep moving here!) so be prepared to spend extra time house/apartment hunting. Frankly, it may very well take longer to put a roof over your head than an offer letter in your pocket. But this place is so worth it.

    8. LimeRoos*

      Adding support to Minneapolis!!
      The job market is great, the lakes are great, the food is great, the beer is fantastic (biased, got married in a brewery up here), and the people are usually pretty great.
      Also, there’s 7+ miles of interconnected skyway downtown, so if you don’t like winter, you can at least avoid a lot of it.

    9. Gayked and Afraid*

      Hopefully in my next update I can let you all know where I land! Taylor and I will look into all the different places – right now we’re looking at Colorado, but most of it will depend where Taylor gets an offer (my industry is not very competitive – getting offers is easy everywhere)

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Please do keep us updated, and wherever you and Taylor land (and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!), I hope it’s amazing.

      2. Foila*

        Aww, yay, I’m in Colorado! I’d say it’s a state with a lot of geographic and cultural variation, so you can and should be picky about where you go. But a lot of it is great, and doing well economically, so that’s going to help with getting jobs.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Colorado seems like a good option since they elected the first openly gay governor yesterday!

  13. Green*

    You need to make the decisions that are best for you, and I know that not everyone is accepting.

    However, I had a colleague several years ago who we all assumed was dating a man (she was not!), and when she told people she was dating and living with a woman, we were all excited for her. (And, TBH, the firm was super-excited to put her down as another “diversity” hire–and claim credit for the inclusive environment–that they did by accident!) If anything, she was greeted with an overexcited tokenism (that one may be perceive as offensive in the overenthusiasm…). CEO may have just not wanted to err in that direction and so decided to ignore it and treat it as matter of fact.

    So it may be worth asking one of the straight people at work (whoever gives off the most inclusive vibes) if CEO even told other people, and if so what they shared and what folks thought. I absolutely would tell an LGBT individual at work who asked whether they were at risk of being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation, but I probably wouldn’t go up to them and say “HEARD YOU’RE GAY!” or acknowledge it any way…

    So, you know yourself and your situation best, but this could just be an Awkward Sandwich with you being awkward, them being awkward, boss being awkward and everyone trying not to be awkward when the real issue is that nobody knows how to tell you that they’re actually just fine that you’re gay.

    1. Flower*

      I think if someone told me unnecessarily that someone else was gay/partnered to someone of the same gender, depending on (1) how close I was to the outed person and (2) the tone in which this was told to me, I would give them a heads-up that someone else is outing them – especially if they haven’t been very open to that point. It wouldn’t be a “HEARD YOU’RE GAY!” thing, it’d be a “hey, I just wanted to let you know that you’re being outed to other people. Did you ask for that to happen?” Depending on the answer, we either get to “great! Glad everyone’s on the same page and no one’s spreading things maliciously. Looking forward to meeting to Taylor! Tell me about him” (to use that specific example) or “Well that’s not cool. What can I do to help?”.

      If I don’t know the person well, especially if I don’t know if they’ve even been open, I’d probably just ask why I’m being told this.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        This. I’ve found a lot of straight people tend to love gossiping about a coworker’s sexuality. I can’t count the number of times a straight coworker has said, “hey, did you know Steve was gay?” or “Jess in Accounting is a lesbian”.

        It’s weird. Partially because no one is ever going around saying, “Dave in Legal is straight!”, and partially because if often comes off as overexcited tokenism which can be pretty gross. There’s definitely a sense of wondering why I’m hearing it from a third party because it’s really not their info to share and rarely relevant to any work conversation.

        1. i did, i did, i did*

          Yeah, unless you’re correcting me on the pronouns or saying “our contact in HR is now Elijah, please update your contacts lists”, it ain’t anyone’s business to spread around.

        2. Green*

          I would have thought it was weird that he told the CEO and then other people didn’t invite him to lunch because usually a CEO would not share that information down the chain. (Which is why I suggested he ask, because I am guessing it’s more likely he wasn’t invited to lunch for no reason at all.)

          But you could be hearing it from a third party for lots of reasons. Sometimes gay people ask straight people to tell other people for them (same as anyone else with messages they may not want to deliver on an individual basis). For the colleague who told me as her mentor at work, she was asking about how it would be perceived in the office, especially if she brought a significant other to a work event for spouses/etc. I asked if she wanted me to keep it confidential or if she would like for me to let people know so that they would not assume she was straight (or be surprised when she showed up with a woman), and she preferred that I discreetly give folks a heads up. I mostly gave a heads up to folks I knew to be inclusive and socially influential and asked that they help everyone feel included, because they would set the tone that others would be more likely to follow.

          If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this blog, it’s that humans are all just super awkward, and sometimes when we’re trying to make things better, we just make them worse or we shut down or we cause other people to shut down.

        3. Flower*

          Yeah, exactly. And asking the person outing this other coworker to me why they’re telling me could give me some insight. Maybe the answer is “I was asked to make sure people wouldn’t be surprised when /spouse/ shows up” (Green’s example) or “I’m worried about the climate here and know you’re an ally and asked /coworker/ (or was asked) if I could tell other people who I knew would be okay”. And those are fine. But if the answer is… basically anything else (“I don’t know”, “Can you believe it???”, etc), I *want* to make that person feel weird about spreading this information, because it just isn’t theirs to share and it probably isn’t relevant to my work relationship with this person.

          *If it’s just something like “Oh, Jim was telling me about how his boyfriend did *funny thing* over the weekend” I’m probably not going to question that, because that doesn’t read as gossiping about Jim’s sexuality, just relating a funny story that happens to mention it. (But I might still worry if Jim is actually out publicly.)

  14. Alfonzo Mango*

    Best wishes, OP! I am sad that it has to be alienating, but I hope this resolves to be a step in a wonderful new direction for you and your spouse.

  15. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I’m so sorry this didn’t work out the way we hoped. :( I hope this will be a lesson to people like me with straight (or other) privilege. It would have been really easy for a coworker to take a minute out of their day to say ‘heard Taylor will be at the party, so excited to meet him! I might need a coffee break later, let me know if you’re interested’ to signal ‘hey things are cool with us’ without like, decorating the office in rainbow balloons. The LW may still have decided that they didn’t feel accepted/safe overall and that’s okay, but this is a good example of when it would have been easy to be an active ally. I’ll try to do better in your honor, LW. Hope you end up in a good place.

    1. Arya Snark*

      I went subtlety out of my way to make sure a coworker I suspected was gay and not exactly out at work knew I was an ally. We had to work closely together (he trained me and we sat next to one another) and I made a few comments here and there, just so he knew he didn’t have to be as on guard with me as I observed he was with others in our office. I mentioned how I had hoped marriage would be legal one day for my friend and her partner (yes this was several years ago), when he asked me about my husband I asked if he had a girlfriend OR boyfriend, etc. He did come out to me when he met a great guy and they started getting serious (they are married now, btw <3). Eventually he came out to he rest of the office after I convinced him I thought they would be welcome as a couple to our holiday party. Really, there was not one issue in the company about it at all and there were other very out people hired after that, it was all normal. So yes, be an ally, keep it matter of fact and just let everyone know you're inclusive no matter what their orientation is.

      1. Ciara*

        Hey, FYI I would not recommend pressuring people to come out with the “girlfriend or boyfriend” thing — I used to live in an area where I could be fired for my orientation and most of my coworkers were not particularly progressive. One of my very sweet coworkers seemed to be trying to be an ally to me and kept asking me questions like that, I’m assuming in an attempt to signal that she was an ally, but it ended up feeling like she had clocked me and was pressuring me to reveal information that could literally get me fired.

        I knew it was coming from a good place, but it really made me stressed out in all of my interactions with her; it made me worry that others had discovered it, or if she might mention it to the wrong person. I’m sure there are contexts where those kinds of questions would be welcome, but even now that I’m in a more progressive city I don’t think I would be comfortable with one of my coworkers focusing so much on my sexuality and personal life, even if it was in an attempt to signal inclusiveness. I wouldn’t recommend that sort of direct probing to others, but rather just being a generally open and inclusive person in word and deed.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think you can ask once “got a girlfriend? or a boyfriend?” but after that, yeah, you don’t want to be that person whose subcontext says “really, I’m pretty sure you’re gay, why won’t you open up to me” all day long.

        2. Arya Snark*

          I wouldn’t say I focused on it or pressured him at all – just made sure he knew I was OK with it. The convo where I asked if he had a boyfriend or girlfriend was very organic and I only asked that once – mine had come to a work event and he asked about him. I followed it up with the BF/GF question and he replied that there wasn’t anyone special in his life at the moment. I think I then asked about pets, which is when I found out he really, really didn’t like cats. Now THAT, I had an issue with!

          1. anon today and tomorrow*

            It may have seemed organic to you, but if your coworker never said anything about his sexuality, bringing up “boyfriend or girlfriend” is anything but organic in a conversation. It’s pretty much hinting that you know they’re not straight, which isn’t fair to him if he’s not ready to tell anyone.

            I know when people have done that to me, I know they’re trying to show they’re a accepting, but it honestly sends a flash of panic through me wondering if they know I’m queer. I’ve almost always lied and said there was no one in my life because I’d rather be comfortable bringing up a same-sex partner first than have someone ask me about it, even in a “hey, I’man ally, you can talk about it with me” way.

            Not everyone is like this, but there are other ways to show you’re an ally than implying you believe someone is gay and putting them in an awkward situation where you hint at it. It puts the emotional burden on them to have to navigate around answering a question they may not be comfortable with.

            1. Z*

              Yea, unless you’d ask anyone “boyfriend or girlfriend” (including people you don’t suspect) it is going to feel like a read no matter how organic that is. If you want to similarly flag allyship I really recommend talking about all hypothetical relationships in a gender neutral way (e.g. “are you seeing someone?” or “Jane got divorced last year and I’m not sure if she’s dating anyone now”) which is something you can do with everyone, doesn’t feel like pressure (even when unintended), and will still read to LGTBQ people as a signal that you’re an ally.

          2. Ciara*

            I wasn’t meaning to imply whether or not you were specifically pressuring him, just chiming in that I personally would not recommend that kind of line of questioning to other readers who are looking to be more inclusive.

        3. Mary*

          Yeah, if you’re going to do, “Girlfriend – or boyfriend!”, the least you can do is make sure you’re doing it to EVERYONE including the aggressively heterosexual people. If you’re only signalling “I’m an ally” to the people you think are queer rather than trying to challenge heteronormativity more generally, you’re not really doing them much of a favour.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            If I were going to ask at all, I think I’d maybe ask “Do you have a spouse or partner?” It’s probably not perfect, but at least it leaves gender open, and maybe that’s something?

            1. anon today and tomorrow*

              Yes. I think that’s the best way to ask because it’s neutral wording and can be applied equally to everyone without making LGBTQA+ people feel targeted.

            2. rogue axolotl*

              Yeah, I would just make a habit of asking everyone this question in a gender-neutral way, since it’s more inclusive generally, and feels less like a leading question.

      2. ThankYouRoman*

        Please think about neutrality more than inclusive.

        I’m queer and in a heterosexual relationship. I still refer to my SO as my partner.

        “Do you have a partner?” or “Anyone special?” is more of a gentle coax. Especially if they’re older LGBTQ, it’s the word we frequently use to define a romantic relationship.

    2. Lumen*

      This is so important.

      LGBTQA+ people cannot fix homophobia. We didn’t invent it. We can’t be the ‘right’ kind of queer, and we can’t all get jobs at the here-and-there workplaces where we can truly be ourselves without fear. This is on straight people to check their own biases, call each other out on intolerant comments or behaviors, and (really important) show us support. Visible, clear support.

      We can’t assume our coworkers (or often our friends or family members, sadly) are safe for us or on our side unless they make it clear to us. It doesn’t have to be a rainbow balloon arch over our cubicles, but a few words of support/acceptance (like above) are the little day-to-day actions that will gradually make the world safer and more equal for all of us.

    3. Tammy*

      This is enormously important. It’s why, when I speak publicly about LGBTQ issues, I always remind my audience that “ally is a verb, not a noun”. It’s not enough to wear the “I’m an ally” button or whatever; you have to actually do the work of BEING an ally and carrying the load of some of the emotional labor that marginalized groups do all the time. This comment, and its replies, are good examples of what being an ally looks like.

    4. Lana Kane*

      “this is a good example of when it would have been easy to be an active ally. I’ll try to do better in your honor, LW.”
      I love this reply because it’s a great example of being open to seeing our privilege, and accepting it with grace (as opposed to fighting it and denying the very concept of privilege). It’s not an easy thing to do.

    5. LQ*

      I struggle hard with finding a good way to make sure that people know that I’m going to be a safe person to talk to because quite frankly I wouldn’t be excited to meet anyone’s spouse or anything that is very social like that at all, I’m not going to positively acknowledge your spouse is same sex because I won’t be comfortable talking about spouses at all. All the sort of normal social queues are hard for me out of the gate so they come off as very stilted which I worry makes it seem not genuine. I know that I present as straight and I don’t dissuade people from that incorrect notion. So do I do a good job of being open and making it a more safe and accepting environment?…

      (I think I do pretty well because I’ve had coworkers come out to me and ask for advise on how to talk to our boss, or explain that their spouse is trans and asking for resources to navigate that and other such things…I feel like if I was getting it wrong consistently people wouldn’t come to me right? Or maybe I’m not as good at hiding it as I think I am…)

      1. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

        I think that you can still do the “hey, I’d like to get a coffee later” or just “good question you asked in that meeting” or something else neutral, which translates to “we can still act like normal coworkers and I’m not upset with you for being gay/hiding your fiance’s identity.”

        I often feel awkward with normal social cues as well, if I say “can’t wait to see you at the party!” I actually mean “…which I hope ends quickly so I can hide at home in my pajamas” but I’ve found that the nice part of these ritual exchanges is that just saying them counts for like 95%, you don’t have to “perform” them well.

  16. Nita*

    I’m sorry you feel this way! Given that you were left out of these events right after you talked to your boss, do you think the boss had a chance to tell everyone? And didn’t some of your coworkers know already? So I’m hoping this was all a coincidence, and that if it wasn’t a coincidence, you at least have some clarity about that by now. In any case, keeping secrets at work has been weighing on you for so long that a fresh start would be good. Wishing you luck!

  17. the elephant in the room*

    This is so sad to hear, but I’m glad you’re still safe and that you and your SO are on the same page. That certainly makes it easier to make such a decision. This is one thing I wish I could make some people understand…being discriminated against is truly awful, but the constant wonder–“Are they doing this because I’m ____?”–always feels worse for me (I know that’s likely not true for everyone, but definitely for me). There’s comfort in knowing you can’t trust someone versus not knowing either way.

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Yes – thank you for explaining what I was thinking. My boss really didn’t do anything wrong, he reacted well. My co-workers excluded me from a lunch, but it could have easily been an accident. But that doesn’t change how I emotionally feel about the situation, and how done I am with what I’ve faced in this city.

  18. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Thank you for the update. But I’m sorry that you had to go through this. Outing may be liberating, but this was simply not that. It was just a whole lot of awkward. Who knows, maybe people are just feeling uncomfortable because they made an assumption and don’t want to have to admit it? In any case, I’m glad you have options and are looking forward to great future.

    1. i did, i did, i did*

      Just a bit of language note. “Outing” isn’t liberating; outing is something that happens to you, often without your consent; when I got outed to some high school friends by someone I’d confided in, it was the end of the world and I had to do major amounts of damage control, and I’ve never spoken to that former-friend again. “Coming out” is something you do, and that can be liberating (or a pain in the neck or a burden or any other emotion).

  19. Bagpuss*

    I’m sorry to hear that things didn’t g as well as you hoped. I hope you and your fiance are able to find somewhere more welcoming .

  20. ThankYouRoman*

    It hurts my heart that you’ve been met with this indifference and discomfort. I hope your new adventures are truly spectacular. You and your fiance deserve to feel safe and happy wherever the wind may take you from here.

  21. Owler*

    We all have weaknesses, and not many of us talk about them honestly with our partners and figure out how to take control of the situation. It’s possible that you’ve misread the workplace, and perhaps thus is just an awkward period to get through, but kudos to you and your partner for talking about it together and figuring out what you want to do to change your situation.

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Thank you – I think we both were reaching a point of being fed up with our location, and both were ready for a new start regardless. This just tipped us over the edge.

  22. LSP*

    I am so sorry this was your outcome. I work with a woman who is a lesbian, and this is actually the second job we’ve worked at together. I think so highly of her in every regard that I recommended her for a job at my firm a few months after I started. I consider her a close work friend, and while I had suspected she was gay, it took years for her to feel comfortable enough to openly disclose that with me (and I am VERY openly progressive in my views). She is still in the closet to most of our colleagues, and NEVER mentions her partner (to anyone but me). She talks a lot about her kids, and she tells people they are adopted, but never gets more personal than that.

    She spoke candidly about this with me once, saying she knows there are some rather conservative people with whom we work (though they are certainly the minority) and she is worried about having difficulty working with them in the future if she were to be out at work. I told her I didn’t think that would be the case, but of course it’s up to her to tell or not tell whomever she wants.

    Reading OP’s experience here really helps me understand the more subtle repercussions that my friend is concerned about, and it breaks my heart that some people feel they have no choice but to move to a different state just to be able to live fully as themselves. I am sorry, and hope you and your fiance find a new community that will accept you, and that you have a gorgeous, drama-free wedding!

  23. No Mas Pantalones*

    I’m sending you big hugs. I don’t personally believe you lied. You omitted and didn’t correct assumptions but that’s sometimes (or often, depending on location) a sad necessity when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues and people. I work in a very, very “good old boy” industry in the south. I will never disclose here. I haven’t really been out at any job for nearly 20 years when it came back to bite me in the ass.

    Work is where I make my money. My support system lies in my chosen family. I keep coworkers completely separate and none the wiser.

    Best of luck! You have family everywhere who are rooting for you!!

    1. Kaitlyn Westlet*

      Best of luck to you and your partner, OP, and thank you for the update. I agree to No Mas Pantalones- I don’t think you lied and please don’t feel guilty about how you acted. In this situation where everything is (or has potential to be) hurtful and intense- don’t blame yourself or feel like you have to be a perfect example of LGBTQ+ worker to everyone all the time. You’re just one person trying to make your own life work and keep yourself safe and happy. big hugs!

  24. Q*

    Best of luck to you and your fiancé, OP. Sorry your coworkers suck so much, I hope you find a great new community and job that openly embrace you as they should. Don’t let your lame coworkers get you down.

  25. Nep*

    [virtual hug] I think you and your fiance have come to a really smart conclusion, and I’m so glad you’re acting on it. I wish you both the best: in your wedding, in your marriage, in your workplaces, and in your life.

  26. Dr. Steph*

    Good luck to you and your fiance. I hope you find a workplace and community that embraces you both!

  27. Rbeezy*

    I’m so, so sorry OP. I hate that you feel this way and that you feel caged and trapped. If I were your coworker, I would invite you to lunch every day. I hope you find a new workplace that embraces your full self, and makes you feel appreciated, seen and welcomed.

  28. Czhorat*

    This was a sad update.

    I’m very, very sorry that we live in a society in which “because you’re fiance is a man and not a woman” is even conceivably a reason for you to be treated differently. We do live in such a world, and it is incumbent on all of us to try to fix it. We’ve failed you and many others.

    Good luck. I hope that you’ll find a place in which you feel accepted and valued for who you are.

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Thank you. I am doing my best with what I was given – I figure it can only get better from here.

      1. Blue*

        It can be so freeing and fulfilling to start fresh in a place that really feels like home, and I truly hope that’s how it works out for you. Wishing you and your fiance all the luck in the world with your job hunts and the moving process!

  29. PugLife*

    Sending love. I came out as trans a couple of months after I moved to a new place. It was easier to just start with my new name and “new” self. I don’t know what I would have done if I stayed. It’s a big change, but it was the right one, and I hope it is for you too.

  30. soupmonger*

    That’s such a shame, if the way your office is treating you is indeed connected to your news. But it sounds as if you and your fiancé have made a sound, positive decision to move and start afresh. I hope you have a long, happy life together with much-deserved happiness.

  31. NewBie*

    For those who write in about these difficult issues, thank you. While your work situation isn’t ideal you’re helping others make their work situation more ideal.

    I live in a conservative state and for years worked at a company with mostly middle aged married women. I started a job at large healthcare company last year. Because if this blog, I made a concerted effort to not assume gender when hearing someone was getting married or wore a ring.

    Two men in my reporting structure are gay and I was relieved to avoid the awkwardness of assuming. I also made sure to ask about the weddings and share congratulations and to not treat it like a big thing.

    Good luck in your new life.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      And thank you for working towards normalizing this. We need more people like you.

    2. Lumen*

      This matters. Just casually checking one’s own assumptions, getting in the habit of using ‘they’ when gender has not been explicitly mentioned, trading in ‘partner’ for other terms… it’s little things, usually in the words we choose, that make all of this more normal and less of a ‘big thing’.

  32. KillItWithFire*

    Sounds like the fresh start is a good idea. It can be tough to live in a community that is stuck on your past instead of able to gear up to your present.

    Good for you and I hope your move goes wonderfully!

  33. Christy*

    I empathize! It is infinitely easier to *be* out of the closet than it is to *come* out of the closet. Honestly it won’t matter too much where you go, so long as it’s somewhere new. (But the only places I’ve had coworkers be weird about me being gay is northern Mississippi, Utah, and Kentucky, and I work with people all over the country.)

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      It’s totally easier to be out than to come out, at least if you live in a decently liberal area. This letter is totally taking me back to 10-15 years ago – I spend a tiny fraction of the emotional energy on being gay now that I did back then.

    2. beth*

      Really? My experience of *being* out of the closet has been a continual, repetitive process of coming out over and over again. Maybe it’s because I don’t ‘look’ gay, but a lot of straight people seem to to forget even after I’ve told them (LGBTQ+ people always remember, so clearly it’s not that hard!).

      1. Anon (this time)*

        I feel you on this. For a lot of us, coming out never really ends. I don’t ‘look’ gay, I’m not partnered, and my orientations are easily made invisible (even in LGBTQA+ groups).

        Also I’m pretty sure my entire family has just been in denial for a decade. They’re still asking me how things are with the man I divorced 10 years ago and haven’t spoken to in 2.

        1. Flower*

          I hear you on this.

          Because I’m very straight-passing I rarely even bother coming out to new people; it usually isn’t relevant to a given interaction/relationship and it’s more effort than it’s worth most of the time. (For context, I’m on the asexual spectrum and in a relationship with a straight guy.) That does mean that when I do come out it’s always starting from square one with each new person, and sometimes even people who knew previously.

          1. Jo*

            Oh, preach to this. I am so, so, SO unbelievably straight passing and very femme, so those who meet me have no idea I’m a lesbian until I say something. I’m constantly asked whether I have a boyfriend, or get comments that very much assume I date men, or seek approval/attention from dudes. I’m very comfortable telling pretty much anyone what my deal is, but I can see the giant question marks in their eyes every time I do. I can almost see them biting back the “but you don’t LOOK gay!” that’s resting right on the tip of their tongue.

      2. anon today and tomorrow*

        Agreed. As much as I hate the term, I’m “straight-passing”. I try to push back against the stereotype that all queer women are butch because I think it’s harmful to try and force people into boxes they don’t want to belong to, but straight people tend to assume because I’m feminine, I’m straight and that if I say I’m “bi”, it really means “bicurious to get male attention”.

        I honestly wish we lived in a society where people didn’t think all gays looked, dressed, and acted a certain way. It’s damaging.

        1. beth*

          Ugh, the ‘femme and therefore straight’ assumption is so real. I’ve had men message me on dating sites where I’ve actively labeled myself as a lesbian, so it’s not even just about not knowing better–it’s actively assuming that their right to access me/my body overrides my own preferences and identity. Straight people need to do a lot better.

          1. Anon (this time)*

            OkCupid has that “I don’t want to see/be seen by straight people” option and I think that says it all.

            1. Jo*

              I came here to say this. That feature has been BRILLIANT.

              Beth, I feel your pain so hard here. I am happy to commiserate whenever you need!

      3. ElspethGC*

        This is why I’m dreading the future life of eternal coming-out.

        As a femme bi woman (high femme, honestly – makeup most days, most comfortable in cute skirts, always have nail polish etc etc) I’ve already had a hell of a lot of the people I’ve come out to question whether I’m *really* bi, or conveniently forget every time the conversation ends because I don’t look stereotypically butch, and I’ve only been out to people in general for three or four years.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          I struggle as a high femme bi woman. It’s not only the straight community, but the queer community as well. To say nothing of the fact that both communities seem to assume that femme queer women are attracted to butch queer women, and since I like other femme women that’s seen as a big faux pas.

          (I like men who are less stereotypically masculine too, which is also a never-ending issue…..and just makes me angry about the gendered ideas of dating all together).

          I’m so tired of people questioning my sexuality just based on my appearance.

          1. ElspethGC*

            I have nothing to add to this femme stress-fest except “I thought the community was supposed to be more welcoming than this but it turns out that everyone invalidates us instead”. I still haven’t dipped a toe into the dating waters since coming out (I was 16 when I figured it out and now I’m 20) because I don’t want to have to deal with it, even though I know it isn’t as bad as it sometimes seems. The terrible people always stand out more.

            1. anon today and tomorrow*

              Yes! I’m 32 and it hasn’t gotten much easier. My city has bisexual support groups and I’ve heard from women who are decades older than me say the same thing. I’m honestly more disappointed by other LGBTQA+ people who invalidate us than straight people. I expect it from straight people, but not my own community.

      4. rogue axolotl*

        Yeah I think it depends a lot on your appearance/gender presentation/relationship status. My gender presentation is such that some people will awkwardly assume that I’m gay and awkwardly dance around addressing it, and others will be totally oblivious. (The reality is, as always, more complicated.)

      5. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

        Yes. Coming out is a process: I’m out in a lot of places/contexts, but that doesn’t mean new people are going to know I’m bi without being told. (Seeing me with any one partner, it’s easy for people to assume I’m lesbian, or straight, depending on which partner they meet, or I mention–and if they meet me alone and I don’t mention either, people often assume I’m straight, because that’s most people’s assumption for everyone.)

    3. The Doctor is In*

      My social group in a small KY town has a number of gay couples who are accepted just fine, I am sure there are other places where that is not the case.

    4. Christy*

      The replies are reminding me—it’s way easier to be out when you have a same-sex spouse. Because you just have to say “my wife” when talking about your spouse.

      And I know there are pockets of acceptance almost everywhere, just sharing my experiences in various places.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I wonder if this is part of why my experience isn’t reflected in many of the comments in this particular sub-thread. I’m married to another woman and we have two kids, and everyone I interact with regularly just chats with me about my spouse and family in the same way they do with other parents of young kids. I also just don’t go out looking to meet new people nearly as much as many other people, especially those in other phases of life.

        Sure, we sometimes need to correct people who see the four of us and don’t realize what the relationships are, but they usually catch on quick and it’s not a big deal. But that’s probably largely a product of the very liberal place where we live.

  34. RJ the Newbie*

    I’m really sad that you had to make this choice, OP, but best of luck to you and your fiance. Live in your truth.

  35. Stone Cold Bitch*

    Thank you for the update. It hope this will be a step towards something better for the both of you.
    Best of luck with the job search!

  36. Elle*

    Honestly, I’m excited for your new beginning and I hope it will be really liberating for you!

    Not to compare, in any way whatsoever, to what must have been a very tough situation to be in. But I recently relocated to an area of the country where I feel like I “belong” better culturally, and its AMAZING. I am so much happier in every aspect of my life. Its been easier to find friends and I’ve instantly felt at home with them. More so than I ever did people in the other area where people have a traditionally ‘different’ upbringing from mine, and the differing values that come with that.
    I obviously wish that everyone in the entire world would just stop ‘caring’ about sexuality and you would feel comfortable living wherever you want. But being surrounded by a supportive culture and community is hugely beneficial for mental health, and I think you’ll find it was the best move you could make under the circumstances.

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Yes, I think it will be a healthy change for both Taylor and I! In a way I think that this unfortunate series of events will lead me to a place where I’m ultimately happier.

      1. Elle*

        Yes, there is definitely a better place waiting out there for you!
        I did want to add – moving is a big step! Take your time with it. Go visit the areas you’re considering first, make it a fun vacation but do ‘normal’ things like checking out a grocery store and driving during traffic hours. Check out the actual neighborhoods where you might live because these things vary a lot. If you get flown for interviews, ask if you can fly back a day later and put yourself up in a hotel for the second night so you have time to look around. It’s worth it to take your time to find *the* place that’s the best fit for you.

  37. Lumen*

    It’s so easy for people (not even just straight people) to forget that coming out isn’t like it is in a movie. There’s not one big day when you do it, and everyone has their reaction, and then life is forever free from the burden of invisibility. We have to keep navigating coming out in new environments and new people. And even with lots of self-care and support, other people can still hurt us with their responses months or years later – no matter how long it’s been since we first accepted ourselves.

    OP, I feel for you struggling like this at work. You seem so mindful and aware of what’s going on in your mind and heart, though, and that’s admirable. I really hope that you and your partner find a home that makes you happy and can start your life together in peace.

  38. Psyche*

    I’m sorry it worked out the way it did, but I’m glad you have identified what you need and how to get it.

  39. Stackson*

    Really sorry to hear this, LW. Coming out isn’t a universally easy process but I admire your bravery to tackle this head on and I applaud your decision to do something constructive with your feelings about the results. I started coming out more openly when I moved away to college and it was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. Being able to start fresh in a new place as your true self is wonderful, and I wish you and your fiance the very best as you start a future together.

  40. lobsterp0t*

    This makes me so happy for you, but in a really bittersweet way, OP – I hope the next chapter is beautiful, fulfilling and sees you grow in confidence and safety.

    It also really upsets me. People in the last thread kept saying OP backed themselves into a corner – NO.

    Straight people take note… this OP did not create this situation for themselves. It is still not safe for us at work in many countries, including the US. This is one reason I will never move home.

    If you have power in your organisation, you have a moral duty to step up and change the culture and the policies, because we shouldn’t have to bear the professional consequences of this political agenda for something as simple and human as being able to safely and equally share in perfectly normal amounts of office/life chatter.

    The choice to lie (for safety reasons) or be honest and be punished is not something we got a choice to opt out of when we realised who were were!

    1. Oranges*

      YES! This! This is why I was so upset at reading the comments on the original letter.

      Our options are be isolated by not talking about anything personal or take the gamble (knowing you still might be isolated AND have tanked your career). It’s not easy. It seems like a little thing but if you’ve never had the thought of “What if [thing] is because I’m ____?” you can’t know how much that weighs on you.

      Each wave washing at a shore isn’t much but cumulatively they destroy it by erosion.

    2. LadyPhoenix*

      Yeah, pretty much this.

      Does it suck being lied to? Yeah, it hurts a little.

      But do you know what really sucks? Trusting someone with their sexual identity only for that person to harass, assault, or worse to the LGBTQ individual. Or the person firing the LGBTQ… or summoning a lynch mob.

      Yeah… a lot of things. You’d forgive the LGBTQ if they take some precuations before saying anything

    3. Lumen*

      Ugh. I’m so glad I didn’t see those. You’re 100% right. LGBTQA+ people did not invent the homophobia we have to be worried about. We didn’t make our workplaces (and homes) unsafe or uncomfortable. Biased straight people do this actively with hate speech and discrimination. Unconsciously biased (and plenty of super-liberal, accepting) straight people do this with silence and apathy.

      OP didn’t put himself in this situation. A homophobic culture did. He’s just a person trying to live his life, stay safe, and be happy. He shouldn’t have ever had to worry about being excluded at work because of his orientation, or navigate who to tell and when, or fear that he’s being discriminated against. But he (and we) cannot create the wonderful, tolerant world we need because we aren’t the ones keeping it intolerant.

      Allyship isn’t about coming into LGBTQA+ spaces and lives and being comfortable there. It’s about going into queer-unfriendly spaces where you have straight privilege and making those environments safe for LGBTQA+ people. Vocally and consistently. You have power. Use it.

    4. Czhorat*

      The OP didn’t do anything wrong; it’s backwards societal attitudes which are to blame.

      As a cishet white male, I cast zero judgment at those who choose to be closeted rather than face possible hostility.

      The way to get people out of the closet isn’t to harangue them; it’s to change the rest of our attitudes so we stop chasing them there.

    5. anon today and tomorrow*

      Yes. I was pretty upset by a lot of comments in the original thread.

      Coming out is about the LGBTQA+ person, not the person they’re coming out to, and I think a lot of straight people forget that. They don’t get to feel upset about being “lied to”, or having to wait years to get confirmation about someone’s sexuality. It’s not about them, and I wish people with straight privilege would realize that because at the end of the day, the hurt they might feel about being lied to is way less than the fear a queer individual may feel coming out. Because even people who say they’re allies have been known to turn their backs on people who come out (I’ve found that people who say they’re allies but have never known a queer person can get uncomfortable the first time someone does come out to them).

      1. Anon (this time)*

        And this gets super damaging to queer people. I was raised steeped in so much homophobia that when I came out, I beat myself up for YEARS about what I “put my family through”. I completely prioritized their hurt and upset and concerns to the point that I didn’t really even acknowledge my own emotions around it, much less process those feelings.

        So (my therapist and) I would like to ask straight people to remember: this is harder on LGBTQA+ folks than it is on you. By a lot. Act accordingly.

  41. Dance-y Reagan*

    Not to borrow trouble, Alison, but how would you recommend the LW prepare for an inevitable “why did you leave your last job?” question. Just a generic “we needed a fresh start/new climate” type of response?

    1. Bekx*

      I think “Moving to City” is a fine response. I just moved cities and that’s pretty much what I said and received no pushback or questions.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      It’s simple because they’re moving states. Nobody ever asked me why I left my job when I was moving. It was “oh you’re moving! How nice.” no in between of “why tho? Did they chase you out with pitchforks or something scandalous?!”

    3. Flower*

      I would think that moving states actually gives some good cover. LW doesn’t have to explain necessarily why he’s moving, but by changing states entirely, it’s clear he needs a new job. If it comes down to it, saying that his fiance got a job in the area is fine, or just that this region is particularly good for his fiance’s line of work or something. “We wanted to live in a new part of the country” is also an option that could mean dozens of things – from mere curiosity to escaping a bad situation or just broadening horizons. Or, if concerned about that making one seem impulsive or flighty, “I’ve always wanted to really experience this part of the country and decided that now was a good time to make a move.” (works especially well if moving somewhere like California, NYC, DC, New England, or somewhere else with a well known strong regional culture)

    4. KTB*

      +nth to the moving states. When I was moving from small PNW city to big PNW city a few years ago, I just said I was relocating. No one batted an eye about why.

  42. DA*

    Just playing a bit of devil’s advocate, don’t you think you’re…jumping the gun a bit? Unless there is more examples of being excluded, shunned or discriminated against, it sounds like OP is making a decision to move to a new city based on not being invited to lunch and to one happy hour. I fully understand if you want to make a change to be out from the start so you can accurately judge people’s interactions with you. But to assume based on two missed activities that you’re being shunned due to your orientation and to move cities is really extreme. OP you have ever right to feel like you can’t be comfortable in your work place anymore but in general, you might need a thicker skin if missing two casual events will convince you to up end your whole life. As a POC who has had to deal with workplace discrimination in all kinds of super subtle and super obvious forms, sometimes you’ve got to just push ahead to further your career – its unlikely you’re going to find a workplace that is 100% welcoming, you’ve got to decide what you’re okay with and what you’ll brush off.

    1. Sue Wilson*

      I don’t think the OP is saying that those examples of 100% discrimination. What he’s saying is that he realized that he doesn’t trust his co-workers enough to be pretty sure it’s NOT discrimination, and that that worry was going to ruin his experience of his job, so it would be better to find a job where he doesn’t have to wonder if there is a change in treatment and what might have caused it.

      you might need a thicker skin sometimes you’ve got to just push ahead to further your career
      I’ve heard this mindset from so many marginalized groups, especially in corporate environments, who are still struggling for the full protection of the law, so I’ll just say, that what you see as your reasonable coping with what choices you think you had isn’t something you can project onto other people. It might have made sense for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s a relevant generalization to anyone else, and it’s a questionable to choose to express it when you see another marginalized person behaving differently than you would.

    2. Kitrona*

      It sounds like there were other issues that he and his fiance talked about and this was the last straw, to me. Given that they did talk it over, if OP was jumping the gun, I assume (given that they’re both adults and thus I assume they’re competent to judge their own lives) his fiance would have objected if that was all it was.

    3. New Job So Much Better*

      Agreed! Even if a warmer workplace is found in another city, co-workers and managers change all the time and you could end up back in a similar situation. Give it a little time.

    4. Doug Judy*

      I got the impression this was kinda the last in a long line of things that made both OP and his fiance realize they wanted to make a change.

      1. Gayked and Afraid*

        Yes, you read my mind. DA you’re right that in a vacuum this decision really doesn’t make that much sense, but if you ctrl+f my other responses here it might help to understand why this was the last straw for me.

        Plus I am fearful if I would get a good reference, for lying or for my sexuality.

    5. cleo*

      I think the OP is hoping that moving to a new city where he and his fiancé are open and out from the beginning will cut back on the worry about someone changing their behavior after learning the OP is gay. Because it won’t be a giant secret anymore.

      Which I think is slightly different than what you’re describing. I’m white and queer, so I may be off base here.

      I agree with the OP that sometimes it’s easier to just move someplace and be out rather than having to come out to a bunch of people who’ve known you a long time and assumed you were straight.

  43. Flower*

    Offering an internet hug. I’m sorry this is how things turned out, but I’m glad that Taylor is at your side and understanding. Wishing you all the best in the future in new places!

  44. Guacamole Bob*

    I can’t help but notice a parallel between this update and the letter earlier today from the woman who’d gone on a Tinder date. In both cases, I was kind of confused by the letter because I didn’t quite see what had the OP tied up in knots, but the distress in the letter is palpable.

    OP, you definitely know your situation better than we do, and if you and your fiance think that moving to a more liberal part of the country is a good choice for you, then go for it! I’ve lived in several liberal coastal cities with my (same-sex) spouse, and it’s been great!

    But, if you otherwise like where you are, I’d also encourage you to give this a bit of time. You acknowledge that there may be other explanations for being left out, and this is all very new. Give your coworkers a bit of time (like, a few weeks, not years) to adjust to you being out and to figure out how to treat you, and for you to see if their treatment of you really has changed. Give yourself some time to let the anxiety of coming out ramp down – I totally get that right now this is consuming you, but it sounds like it’s still new, and you may be able to stop this hyper-analyzing thing you’re doing. And if you aren’t able to get through it on your own, consider finding a therapist to help you through this transition.

    Sending good vibes your way, OP!

  45. Anon Anon Anon*

    I hope you and Taylor have a good move and find great jobs wherever you relocate to. Thank you for writing these letters. As someone with a different kind of lived experience, they’re informative. I appreciate hearing your story, and I wish you both the best.

  46. VA Anon*

    This update breaks my heart. Best of luck to you and Taylor in the future.

    “Life is ahead of me, not behind.”

  47. Jess*

    Good luck to you, OP, and congrats on coming out to your boss! I hope you’ll give us another update after the Christmas party. And since you’re looking for a new state, I’d add another plug for Massachusetts… it’s a great place to be queer and has the loveliest autumns (though winter weather can be a beast sometimes).

  48. CarolynM*

    OP – good luck and best wishes!

    Sometimes you have to get kicked off a cliff before you realize you can fly. A few years back I was going through a bad time (highlights include a bad injury requiring multiple surgeries and a deeeeevorce – wheeee!) – it was lonely and awful and I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy, but it taught me what I was made of and made me take inventory of what I thought I wanted vs. what I actually wanted.

    I was clinging to my miserable job that I had hated for years because it felt impossible to find a new one while I was dealing with everything else (and, I will admit, I was reeling from all the changes in my life … actively choosing change was a bridge too far), and then … I lost the job too! Utterly terrifying, but without being able to cling to something that was bad for me, I had to seek out better for myself. My life is totally different today – I am freakishly happy, I am living my best life and comfortable in my own skin.

    But OP, you didn’t need to be kicked off the cliff – you jumped and you are taking a leap of faith with your fiance! You are choosing to find better for yourselves instead of clinging to what is familiar and hoping it will be enough. You’re amazing – it’s scary and brave, but you are choosing happiness! It may sometimes feel like falling, but before you realize it, you will be soaring!

    I’m sorry for being cheesy, really – not sure what got into me today! LOL But I am rooting for you and your fiance – here is to your happiness and living your best life!

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Thank you for sharing – I am learning so much about myself through this process. Also want to give a real shout out to therapy for anyone reading this and struggling – I can’t even explain how important it has been to me through the last year or so.

  49. Probably Unemployed Tomorrow*

    I am sorry to hear that your “coming out” did not go as smoothly as you hoped. I am glad however that you have such an understanding future husband, you are lucky to have him and he seems like he will be a fantastic life-long partner for you.

    If you are looking to move, might I suggest Madison, Wisconsin? It is a fantastic city that strongly leans progressive with a lot of fun and mostly free activities. I am not sure what field you are in, but Epic and American Family Insurance are always looking for people in a pretty wide variety of fields. I absolutely love it, plenty of big city but if you drive 5 miles you are in the heart of farm country. And we have a lot of beer and cheese.

    1. Probably Unemployed Tomorrow*

      Also, if you are finding yourself in a rough patch, I like to read the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley (I actually have the word “Invictus” tattooed on my wrist). Reading it always gives me that extra bit of strength I need to get through the day.

  50. beth*

    I very much feel you on the ‘coming out’ sometimes being more of a burden than a liberation thing. I mean, it can feel liberating–coming out to myself was liberating as heck, coming out to friends who rejoice in my self-discovery with me is liberating, it can be wonderful sometimes.

    But sometimes it’s just heavy. Sometimes it’s fearful, because I don’t know how they’ll respond and fear it’ll be bad. Sometimes it’s weighed down with “Is this person really cool with it, or are they just keeping their nastier thoughts quiet?” Sometimes it’s so full of “How is this person changing what they think of me, now that they know this thing that shouldn’t make a difference but people put a lot of cultural pressure on on?” that there’s no room left for joy. Sometimes it’s getting so caught up in looking for microaggressions and potential bigotry that the anxiety itself becomes a leash. I do it anyways, because ripping off the bandaid is better than lying forever, but sometimes it’s more a burden than anything.

    I’m sorry this experience was in the latter category for you. Please know that you’re not alone. I hope your move goes smoothly and you find a wonderful job with an open culture in your new home!

    1. Lumen*

      I relate to this on a visceral level. It has me fighting tears at my desk thinking about the people around me that I just… unconsciously worry about, all the time, because I don’t know where they stand and I’m not sure how careful I need to be and I’m afraid of what they might say if I were to be more open about who I am. So on, so forth. It just has me thinking about how “used to it” I’ve gotten, but how draining it can be.

      So I’m gonna send you some Internet hugs, okay? Partly cuz I need some. OP, you get in here too. Hugs for all of us.

      I see you. I accept you.

    2. ElspethGC*

      I hope that all the straight cis people who were accusing the OP of being deceitful on the original post read this. They’ll never know what it’s like to live with this day-in, day-out, and considering themselves allies (like some people accusing OP of lying were saying) doesn’t change that.

      I recently discovered that a friend is Catholic – and I can’t remember if I’ve come out to her/in front of her, so now every interaction is plagued by me wondering if she’s one of those “hate the sinner” types and is keeping all the horrible thoughts to herself (still not a great situation for the queer person who is aware that it’s happening), or if she’s cool with it, or if she doesn’t know and telling her would ruin everything. And this is with someone I consider closer than an acquaintance. Repeat that ad nauseum with *every single person* you interact with. It sucks, and it’s exhausting.

      Keep this in mind, straight/cis people that want to be allies. This is the thought process. This is why you need to be explicit about it if you want to be a good ally, because this is what we have to think about our interactions with you otherwise.

      1. Elspeth*

        I don’t believe the OP was being deceitful. As a straight woman, I can only imagine how difficult it is to come out to people. Also, how difficult your life can become as a result of prejudice in the workplace. I’m sorry that the OP doesn’t know if he can trust his work mates. I send him good wishes and hope that he and his partner are able to find somewhere more inclusive.

  51. Laura B.*

    I feel awful that this happened to you. I really have never understood why being gay would be viewed negatively, and I say this as a straight, cisgendered person. If anything, I believe the CEO that made the assumption should have been the one to feel awkward when you corrected them! I wish you and Taylor a lifetime of love and acceptance on all sides.

  52. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Just want to wish you the best for the next stage of your life. Hope all goes well for you both!

  53. Alton*

    I think coming out can be a very vulnerable experience when it’s your first time (which includes your first time in a specific context, like work). It can feel like a trap at first, because before you come out, it can feel like you’re more in control. Once you come out, you give that up. You can’t make people stop knowing. Negative outcomes no longer feel avoidable. It’s terrifying. The first couple times I came out, I felt very panicked and regretful afterward.

    I don’t want to say “It gets better,” because to some degree, that’s outside of your control. But it can get a lot easier. Ultimately, I feel like even some of the less positive experiences I’ve had have made me more confident, because I’ve learned my own strengths and limits, as well as what’s important to me. Work might always be more intimidating because it’s your livelihood and discrimination can have a big impact, but I feel a lot more empowered than I did even a few years ago because I feel like I have a better understanding of what I can expect and what’s really important to me.

    I’m sorry that your update isn’t as happy as it could be. A fresh start might not be a bad idea, but I also don’t want you to discount the value of what you’ve achieved here.

  54. OhGee*

    Just chiming in to say, I’m sorry you feel you should move on, but I wish you and your fiance all happiness in making a fresh start elsewhere. I’ve known other friends to come out at work in various ways, and sometimes the reaction and consequences are negative, which is awful, but real.

  55. JustMyOpinion*

    I don’t know, I feel a lot of this may be in OP’s head. OP has basically given up on the office due to a few (perhaps non-related) incidents where OP felt left out. Prior to his “coming out” OP stated in his previous letter that some of his coworkers had met the fiance, reacted well, and were supportive.

    1. Lumen*

      I think that was the point of this update. The OP knows this is ‘in his head’ and that there are plenty of reasons why his coworkers might not invite him to lunch or so forth. But he also is aware of how much energy he can/is willing to put into dealing with these fears in a place where he’s already uncomfortable, and has been living with anxiety and discomfort for a long time. It’s okay for him to say “you know what? maybe this is all in my head, but I don’t have to put myself through the wringer to ‘fix myself’ when I have a safe way to move on from it instead.”

      He’s decided to start anew, and as plenty of LGBTQA+ people in the comments have pointed out… sometimes it DOES help us to start fresh in a new place.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        That was my take too. The OP is very self-aware that some of this may be in his head, but it’s not enough to dissipate the negative feelings. And knowing that, he’s rationally making the decision with his fiance to move away and get a fresh start.

      2. Alton*

        That was how I saw it, too. Sometimes these internalized fears are a big part of the battle. Most of the time, they aren’t fears that develop in a vacuum. They’re created by a barrage of messages we get about what can happen to us.

    2. beth*

      Even if OP’s current coworkers aren’t intending anything of the sort with their actions, I still think it’s not entirely in OP’s head. At the bare minimum, OP is reacting to some genuine cultural pressures–there genuinely are some people who will be cruel to others just because they’re gay, and there genuinely are many more who maybe won’t be outright cruel but might quietly think they ‘don’t fit in’ and maybe don’t bother to extend lunch invitations, etc. as a result. That’s not something OP made up out of nowhere.

      That reality means that when little things like that happen, people in OP’s position are pretty commonly left wondering whether it’s a genuine mistake, an “I’ll tolerate you but you’re always going to be a little bit of an outsider,” or a full-on “You’re not welcome here” snub. And trying to guess at people’s intentions is crazy-making. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your own sanity is to get to a place where you don’t have to guess as much.

    3. Oranges*

      I don’t think it’s in his head. I think that the majority are uncomfortable and doing the slow fade. Or quick fade in this case.

      Even IF it’s in his head (note it’s totally not), the fact that he ISN’T SURE is enough to get out. He should trust his gut on this. Do I have to BE SURE that there’s a robber targeting my house to lock it? Nope! Same diff. He gets to decide.

    4. Gayked and Afraid*

      I’d encourage you to ctrl+f my other responses – my decision might make more sense with additional context :)

  56. SometimesALurker*

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve always worked in fairly queer-friendly environments and I still shake a little bit every time I come out to someone new at work, even though I typically don’t have any kind of nervous reaction coming out to people outside of work.
    Good luck with everything!

    1. Lumen*

      It’s almost like in far too many places, it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone for their orientation. We have to mention that a place might be queer-friendly because so many places AREN’T. Your fear is valid because our world is still messed up.

      Sending you love.

  57. LurkieLoo*

    I am glad that weight is off your shoulders even if it has come with a whole host of other issues. I am also glad that you have a solid action plan and that your fiance is ready for a fresh start with you. You deserve a happy life.

    I read one of your comments that really stuck with me from your original letter. “It’s been incredibly hard and little things like this remind me how so many aspects of my life will be harder because of my sexuality.”

    I wish we lived in a different world where your life doesn’t have to be harder just because of who you love. I have a young family member who I suspect might not be cis as an adult. While I will love him regardless of what he chooses in the future, my heart absolutely aches that his choice will be to deny himself the chance at true love and happiness or spend his entire life struggling against the prejudices and hate that anyone in the LGBT community faces.

    I wish you and your fiance a lifetime of health and happiness in a community that is accepting of the wonderful people you are.

  58. SbxAddict*

    Gay(ked) and Afraid,
    I didn’t comment last time because it was asked that straight people step back. I read all of your comments, though, and realized we’re in the same profession. I wanted to reassure you that there are workplaces that will be very accepting of your life whether you choose to live it openly or in the closet. I own a company that does what you do but we do it for the public and we deal with all sorts of people and lifestyles. Some of my employees are very religious but we make it clear to everyone that any attitude or discrimination will not be tolerated. We’ve lost employees over this but we don’t feel like those employees were a good fit for our diverse firm. You will find a “work home” that fits you for a time. I’d offer to help but I am in a small southern town in the US where you would have all the love you want from us but you might run into some bigots in the rural areas nearby. I’m Jewish and I don’t tell everyone that because while our city is diverse, the farmland around us isn’t.

    I haven’t walked in your shoes but I’ve walked next to a few people who were in them and tried to be an ally to them. You and your fiance will be ok.

    1. Lumen*

      This is so important for straight employers and leaders to do. Making it vocally, abundantly clear (and then following through). Better to lose an employee than keep a bigot.

      Please take care of yourself, too.

    2. automaticdoor*

      My husband is in that profession as well and it seems to be a lot better to work for the big 4 (probably in bigger cities) if you’re on the queer spectrum than it would be to work for a small firm. They’re actually super anxious to hire “diverse” people. My husband is a director at a big 4 in our big metro area and actively works to promote a safe space for the “minorities” on his team, whether ethnic, religious, racial, or sexual orientation, and his team is incredibly diverse.

  59. loslothluin*

    I see this from both sides – OP feeling hurt by being left out and, possibly, his work friends being hurt by OP’s lies of omission that have gone on for quite a while from the sounds of it. I think there’s a lot of hurt on all sides and emotions are running high for all involved. Give it a little time and see if everything calms down. If not, I’d look for another job.

    1. Turnturn*

      I understand why it feels this way and I’m not unsympathetic. But I really need straight people to not see being closeted as “lying by omission.” It’s a matter of safety and job security for many people. You never know how people will react and sometimes self preservation wins over.

      1. Turnturn*

        Just wanted to add – only 20 states in the US have lgbt employment discrimination protection. And de facto discrimination can be a thing even in those states.

      2. Lumen*

        This. OP did not “lie by omission” or leave his friends out. He protected himself and his partner because he could not be sure that his straight coworkers/friends were going to back him up. Because they were not vocally, abundantly clear on where they stand and what values they support.

        OP has his own feelings to honor, work through, and heal. The straight people in his life, if they want to be seen as trusted allies, need to process their own hurt feelings and then see what they can do to make the world safer so that no one has to “lie by omission” to keep themselves safe.

        Because honestly, these hurt feelings are not that bad compared to the fear and uncertainty that OP has had to live with and is going through right now. They’ll be fine. It’s more important that straight allies realize this and turn their energy towards supporting LGBTQA+ people they say they care about.

      3. ElspethGC*


        Being closeted for your own safety isn’t lying.

        This is not about you.

        Queer people are not obligated to put themselves in danger because the straight people who otherwise consider themselves allies think that *their* feelings are more important than *our* safety.

      4. Pipe Organ Guy*

        This, in spades.
        I spent years working as organist in a pretty conservative Catholic church. Why? A good pipe organ was one draw for me, and I also lacked confidence that I could even get another job. Finally, though, the church hired a choir director who seemed obsessed with everyone else’s sex lives. I don’t know how much she figured out about me, but I was also sick of working in a place where I would be considered “objectively disordered” (that’s the Catholic Church’s stance toward LGBT people, that we are objectively disordered). When the chance came to work for an Episcopal church with an out-of-the-closet gay rector and an out-of-the-closet choir director, I jumped at it. I’ve been working at a different Episcopal church now for some 17 years, and I’m the organist here now; my husband has been here since he was a toddler, everyone knows us as a unit, and we have a whole lot of LGBT people.
        Now, if we can get my father-in-law to stop referring to us as “partners”….
        It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. We always have to balance between being “out” and being neutrally straight-appearing, playing our cards close to our chest.

      5. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        OP didn’t even lie by omission. People jumped to conclusions about his partner based on assumptions. He isn’t obligated to correct people when they make a mistake and not correcting isn’t lying.

      6. loslothluin*

        You either tell the truth or you don’t. It’s a lie or it’s not. It’s not exactly rocket science, and who says I’m straight. You’re making assumptions based on nothing.

        1. Galatea*

          Is not proactively saying, “I have xyz medical condition” lying? Sometimes I say I’m sick instead of going into gory detail, is that lying? There are a lot of things people don’t say that aren’t lying.

          1. ket*

            I think it’s useful to read the letter-writer’s words and do some hair-splitting here:

            Gayked and Afraid did use female pronouns to refer to his male partner. This is “lying.” It was not just people jumping to conclusions, or omission.

            Gayked and Afraid had/has tooooons of reasons to do so, that under many moral frameworks would excuse the lie.

            Now Gayked and Afraid is out, and experienced a number of other painful consequences (friends asking him to stay away from their kids, loss of Bible study leadership position, etc.). These are among the consequences he feared in coming out, and not the worst consequences.

            Reading his responses is useful for everyone who wants to jump to conclusions, from “Being gay is a-okay everywhere now! What’s the problem?” to “Now you’re just leaving ’cause you missed happy hour? aren’t you oversensitive?” to “He never said he had a girlfriend! It was all omission!”

            I think it’s important to be able to hold the complexity of the situation. He can have told a straight-out (ha) lie to remain closeted and still not be in the wrong here. We should not demand people sacrifice their lives and jobs for truth without recognizing the consequences of that (usually that they tell the truth, lose the job, and no change comes). If your impulse in the comments section is to be righteous about something, anything, ask how it’s honestly playing out in the lives of people around you.

            Much sympathy & love, LW.

    2. DreamingInPurple*

      The work friends feeling “hurt” over not being told is something that definitely happens, but at its heart it’s unreasonable – they are prioritizing their feelings on something that is really very tangential to their lives over something that is central to the OP’s life. If they’re actually so hurt that their emotions are running high, they aren’t going to be able to be good allies to him, and they aren’t that good of friends.

    3. Czhorat*

      Pardon the all caps, but


      If one "side" is a person not feeling welcome because of societal biases against their sexuality then there is no valid "other side".

      The onus should not be on minorities to navigate systems of oppression; it should be on the majority to dismantle those systems.

      1. President Porpoise*

        No, there is. It can take time to process something like this – and it doesn’t mean that OP’s coworkers are bad people necessarily, it might just mean that they feel a little awkward for making assumptions and it’ll all smooth out in a few days/weeks. OP knows their workplace best and is best suited to judge and respond, but as someone who was raised very conservatively it took me a bit of time after a gay friend came out to me for me to fully adjust. I think I did a good job of not treating my friend any differently, but it’s something that people could very easily have trouble with showing, though they might be full of happiness for OP and good intent for the LGBTQ+ community.

    4. ThankYouRoman*

      Oh please. Nobody is entitled to private information about our friends, family or colleagues. If they’re feeling hurt, they’re acting childish and cruel by freezing OP out. They’re still wrong and not sympathetic.

    5. It's Pronounced Bruce*

      I cannot fathom a reality in which I would give even so much as a passing moment of recognition to the fact that sometimes people mistakenly referred to this guy’s fiancé as a female and he didn’t immediately correct them.

      So any time it doesn’t flow in a conversation to jump in and correct people when they make a mistake or assumption, it’s a lie of omission? If someone had called the finance Tyler instead of Taylor by mistake and the LW didn’t jump in with a correction, he was hurting their trust with a lie of omission? Lie of omission. A liiiiiiie? And now they’re hurt by this? Heaven help me, really roll that one around for a minute and see if it doesn’t start sounding goofy as all get out.

      1. Gayked and Afraid*

        For most of them I am likely the first gay person that they’ve interacted with and gotten to know (at least, that they’re aware of). I understand their shell shock and don’t want to demonize them, especially because I don’t know if they are upset or not – and to be honest, I’m at a point now where I don’t really care to find out. I’m leaving anyways!

        1. Phoenix*

          I hope you find the community you’re looking for – you deserve not to have to be the vanguard token gay person for your colleagues! It’s too much.

  60. Green*

    This makes me sad. But I grew up in New York and now live in San Francisco, so I honestly have a hard time imagining anywhere that isn’t as open-minded as the places I’ve lived. (I believe you, of course, I just can’t imagine the mindset of someone caring that someone’s gay because it’s always been such a non-issue with everyone I know.)

    I don’t know where you’re considering moving, but the Pacific Northwest is pretty open-minded, as is NY/NJ, and Austin. I hope you and Taylor land somewhere you are both comfortable and loved for exactly who you are.

  61. Kitrona*

    Nah, OP, you didn’t lie. You didn’t fully disclose for fear of the consequences, it’s not like you blithely went along going “eheheheheh I’m not gonna tell them something important just for kicks”.

    I’ve seen a couple comments saying you jumped the gun, but I’m not gonna second-guess you and your finace on that. Y’all know your life better than we ever will, and since you both feel this is the right decision, good. I wish you both the best of luck.

    I moved (to the South, of all places) and now I can just come out to people as I meet them, so I can avoid the reactions and the questions (“But you were married to a guy!” Yeah, I know. It’s amazing the ways we can lie to ourselves to please other people). It was the best decision for me, and I hope that it’s the best thing to happen to you besides meeting your fiance. :)

    1. loslothluin*

      When you don’t correct someone with the truth, it’s lying by omission. It doesn’t require some seedy reason. You’re doing it simply by not telling the truth. There isn’t any gray area. You either tell the truth or you lie about something.

      1. i did, i did, i did*

        Lying is not the greatest sin in the world, for doing which someone must be thrown out of the town to be eaten by hyenas.

      2. MassMatt*

        So if a mugger holds you up at gunpoint and takes your wallet and watch and then says “Ha! I’ve taken everything you’ve got!” You would jump in to correct him and say “No sir, I have $100 in my other pocket!”? To do otherwise is lying by omission, right? No gray area for you!

      3. Gayked and Afraid*

        Yeah this is well said. I lied to protect myself, and I believe the ends justified the means, but a lie is a lie.

      4. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        With respect, this tends to be a perspective held by people who can safely live their authentic selves in public.

        1. DreamingInPurple*

          Yep. Clinging to “but technically it is a lieeeeeeeee” is kind of ridiculous, because in this situation it really *does not matter* whether it’s a lie or not.

  62. anon4this*

    OP-Good luck in the future!
    Just just had one thought from your update:
    “It has become clear to me that I will always wonder if anything negative that happens to me in my office will be related to my sexuality and/or my credibility after being caught lying about my sexuality.”
    I didn’t think you lied anywhere? Not correcting what has become an outdated assumption about people isn’t the same as intentionally telling a falsehood IMO. I don’t think you anything wrong at all. It’s not your job to teach people to start using their brains in 2018.
    And FWIW, it does sound like your workplace is being somewhat retaliatory, esp considering the lack of reaction from your boss. You initially didn’t want to come out at this workplace before all this, and I personally think your instincts were right.

  63. Ciara*

    I’m so sorry this didn’t turn out for you the way you’d hoped, OP. I relate so much — my coming out process was very painful and littered with both overt and subtle instances of discrimination and ostracization, and I constantly felt regretful for having come out.

    I ended up doing exactly what you plan on and moved to another city, and I’m really glad I did. I feel much more comfortable here, and my sexuality feels like a part of me rather than something I’m constantly juggling between revealing and not. I wish you the best!! :)

  64. Micromanagered*

    I really hope LGBTQ allies will hear a wake-up call in this update and be as vocal and supportive as they can when someone comes out at work or they think they hear casual homophobia from coworkers.

  65. Queernonymous*

    A few people (who I’d assume are straight) have commented that this might be in his head or that it might just need some time. There’s a thread of assumption that moving could end up the same, or that a company might later hire a homophobic coworker. But, as a queer person, I have to say that rejection from someone I just met feels very different than rejection from a friend, or even a friendly coworker. Yes, he will never just be out, it’s always a process, but if that process usually happens fairly quickly upon meeting someone, it’s part of forming an opinion of them, instead of a slap in the face from someone he already felt close to. “My company just hired a homophobe, it sucks,” feels very different than, “So it turns out that my friend always hated me, they just didn’t realize it until now.” Moving and making a habit of coming out early can definitely help with that.

    Also, even if the coworkers do feel lied to (I come down firmly on the side of this does not count as a malicious lie), for them to make something that was so incredibly difficult for OP about their feelings makes it clear how much people don’t understand that decisions around coming out are about safety, emotional and physical. You don’t owe other people the vulnerable parts of you. And it also can feel really alienating to know that people really don’t understand you/people like you.

    1. Random Commenter*

      Yes. And even if it were all in this person’s head, it’s in there now. A new start can be very powerful. In a new place you get to start over, and there’s a lot of freedom in this.

    2. ElspethGC*

      Yes, this. The comments of “Are you sure it’s just not in your head?” are really making me uncomfortable, actually. I know it’s not gaslighting, but it feels a bit that way. Telling someone who knows full well what it’s like to be discriminated against that this particular discrimination is all in his head feels really kind of icky.

      1. loslothluin*

        Uncomfortable how? When emotions are running high, it’s only common sense to let things calm down before doing anything rash. You can’t run your life based on feelings only. You need to temper it with logic.

        1. ElspethGC*

          OP knows better than anyone else in this thread what is currently happening in his workplace. Nobody else has any idea what is happening. He is the only one that can make that judgement call. And when people are saying “I think OP is overreacting, I think it’s all in his head”, what they’re saying is “I don’t think you’re capable of recognising discrimination when you see it”.

          Some people are saying “Maybe give it a couple of weeks but it’s reasonable to conclude that some interactions are now coloured by you coming out”, and yes, that makes sense. There are plenty of people advising OP to, in your words “let things calm down before doing anything rash”. That’s mostly reasonable advice. There are also plenty of people saying that OP isn’t actually experiencing any discrimination or freezing out right now and that it’s all in his head. That is *not* reasonable advice. To think that he has come out to an office that had unanimously assumed without question that he was engaged to a woman (not exactly filled to the brim with allies) and to claim that he is not currently experiencing any fallout from that is honestly pretty naive.

      2. beth*

        I think it is gaslighting. It’s telling us that we’re supposed to ignore the reality that things like this happen all the time, and only consider it ‘real’ if people outright tell us that they’re freezing us out because they’re uncomfortable with our sexuality.

        That’s not how things happen in the real world. I mean, sometimes it is–but usually people aren’t that explicit. You just know that it’s happening, and the timing happens to correlate, and you don’t think anything else changed, and you’ve heard of friends experiencing similar things when they came out, and…well, that math kind of adds up, doesn’t it? You don’t know 100% for sure, but you probably never will know with that much certainty.

        But when it comes to bigotry, apparently we’re not allowed to even consider it a likely motive in our own minds unless we’ve got enough proof to hold up in a court of law. (This isn’t unique to homophobia, unfortunately, but there we go.)

    3. It's Pronounced Bruce*

      “All in your head” is a real nonsense way to class it, because… No duh? Like yes, the insidious and impossible-to-know-for-sure nature of discrimination is exactly the freakin’ problem. You never know if you’re entirely safe, or who’s trustworthy, or what exact factor made someone do something that disadvantaged you, because it could always be that and it could always be something else. That’s the nature of the thing. That’s a significant part of why it sucks.

      If every little bit of marginalization came with a note card explaining it, navigating the whole thing would be a hell of a lot easier for us. It would be just super if this was spelled out, but it never is. What do people expect? “Dear LW, we didn’t invite you to lunch just due to scheduling but the happy hour thing is definitely because you’re gay. Susan and Tracy don’t care, but John and Ellen want to make sure you know are no longer comfortable with you for this specific reason. Please plan accordingly. Signed, Everyone.”

    4. cleo*

      Really well said. I couldn’t articulate it as well but that’s my feeling too (as a queer person who’s struggled with how to be comfortably out at work).

  66. Random Commenter*

    I am very sorry to hear this, OP. I relate a lot. Wishing you all the best in this new beginning.

    1. Random Commenter*

      Hi Gayked.

      Now that I know you’re reading these, I wanted to let you know once again that we are rooting for you, from afar.

      I grew up very Cathilic

    2. Random Commenter*

      Argh! Accidental post! I was going to say:

      I grew up in a very Catholic town where nothing ever happened and no one really left. I even went to a private Catholic school. As big/pan/whatever I’m just about “queer enough” that Catholics never really liked me, never really accepted me, but didn’t really know why: I challenge their gender norms but am cis and they never had any reason to assume I’m not straight. There was just this discomfort around me. So I left.

      This is such a common story, too. There is so much power in leaving. You get to reinvent yourself, you get to set the rules going forward. I’m proud of your decision. Hope it all turns out for the best.

  67. Amy*

    I’m sorry you and Taylor must deal with homophobia in 2018. I sincerely hope you can land in a more progressive city. Speaking for Seattle, you’re more than welcome here!

  68. Purple hair lady*

    Fargo. ND has lots of jobs and a strong community! You would be very welcome!! Don’t pay any attention to all those stereo types out there about Fargo! Sure, there’s jerks but there are jerks everywhere. Give it a chance! Hang in there! We’ve got your back!!

  69. Vic*

    (As a gay person) the thing that bothers me, and that I suspect may bother the OP’s coworkers and boss, is the misrepresentation.

    While it wasn’t malicious, it’s still very odd not to correct someone who assumes your fiance is a woman and then respond as if it’s true. You either seem shifty or ashamed, or the implication is that your boss is a homophobe and can’t handle the truth.

    It’s fine not to be out at work—but if that’s your choice, it’s probably not a good idea to mention a fiance.

    1. anon4this*

      Vic, the implication that “of course he’s straight and of course it’s a female fiance” is outdated nonsense in 2018. It not odd to correct someone on an erroneous statement when it could put your livelihood in jeopardy and he had no clue how receptive they would be.
      He didn’t want to be out at work (yet), but was excited about being engaged (did you read the OG letter?). So it slipped out.
      I hate when other gay men are not supportive of members of their own community. It’s not “misrepresentation” to not correct someone on a very stupid dated assumption . If they didn’t know what the gender was, they could’ve asked OP point-blank his fiancee’s gender. Assuming its female is RUDE and judging by the their reaction now, he was right to be hesitant.

      1. Vic*

        That’s not even true, because he was out to some coworkers. You can’t be out to some and not to others (especially people who all work together!) and expect them not to “raise eyebrows” when you don’t correct someone.

        It’s also interesting that you yourself have made an assumption about my gender in your comment, but per your line of thinking, I shouldn’t have to correct you.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          Yes, I can expect that. If I’m out to Joe and Jess, but not to Dan and Amy because I’m not sure where they stand on LGBTQA+ rights, I’d expect Joe and Jess to understand that I want to keep my sexuality private from Dan and Amy for various reasons, and that if I don’t correct their assumptions, I have a good reason for doing so.

        2. i did, i did, i did*

          >>You can’t be out to some and not to others (especially people who all work together!) and expect them not to “raise eyebrows” when you don’t correct someone.

          Nope, not really. I’m out to Person X in my religious group, but not out to others, because I don’t want the shunning. Person X has heard me say things while I’m in that group that assume that I’m straight, and has not ever been like “oh, friend, why do you say that thing that sounds heterosexual? I thought you were a lesbian!”. Because Person X knows that it’s not her job to out me. She knows I’m queer, but she doesn’t have to check in every time we’re in company to make sure I’m still queer. Closets can be open without being open to everyone on the planet.

        3. beth*

          You absolutely can be out to some and not others, though? I mean, it’s not usually sustainable long-term–once enough people know, it becomes common knowledge and tends to spread to the rest. But you can absolutely trust one or two close friends or colleagues while still being mostly closeted. That happens all the time, especially in environments where people don’t feel safe coming out to everyone but want to be able to invite this one trusted friend to their birthday party or whatever.

      2. BC*

        “If they didn’t know what the gender was, they could’ve asked OP point-blank his fiancee’s gender. Assuming its female is RUDE”

        And this is why I won’t bother to even have any personal conversations with my coworkers anymore. Its not worth the hassle of someone calling you rude or even basing their whole employment choices on something because you didn’t 20 question them before giving a stock answer or reply.

        1. CM*

          It would be kinder to continue having personal conversations, but try your best to avoid making assumptions about their identity and sexuality.

          Sure, you may occasionally offend people inadvertently. But they will appreciate that you’re trying.

          It’s not that hard to just listen and respond to what someone is saying, instead of inserting your own assumptions.

          And maybe if someone calls you rude, instead of becoming defensive, you could think about what you said and whether there’s something you could change in the future to make people feel more included.

          1. BC*

            Most people get pissy if you ask or use “they”. Therefore what are you supposed to do? Better just to avoid the whole thing and get on with your job and stay the hell away from peoples personal lives.

            1. DreamingInPurple*

              Do most people really have such a negative response to “they” where you are, if it’s used in a natural way in conversation? I’m genuinely asking. The only times when I’ve seen people get irritated about it have been when it’s been said pointedly – as in, “Ah, your fiancé(e) – what do… They… do?” or “what does he…. or She!… do?”

              Not arguing with the point that it can be better not to share much information at work, though, for many reasons.

    2. McWhadden*

      (As a gay person) this is pure nonsense and it’s not remotely odd to not feel comfortable coming out by correcting a gender in a casual conversation.

    3. Random Commenter*

      But people have a prerrogative to choose who to share details about their personal lives with, yes? Particularly when those details are potentially dangerous for you. And specially in a workplace.

      (As a Kinsey-2 who is mostly perceived as straight), I would take no offense if someone took their time to come out to me. For starters, there is no obligation to come out at all. The implication is not personal, that they’d think I particularly am a homophobe or that I personally wouldn’t handle it. The implication is social: some people, in general, aren’t all that great with this topic, and one is cautious regarding this in response, so it makes sense to hold out that piece of information until you feel more sure that it’s safe.

      The fact that OP’s fears seem to have been substantiated after all only supports that there was good reason to hesitate. Even if this reaction he’s getting is not coming from homophobia, they are being TERRIBLE allies (or not allies at all).

    4. ElspethGC*

      (As a bi person) I really, really don’t consider it ‘odd’ or ‘misrepresentation’ to not correct someone when they made an outdated and heterosexist assumption. The very fact that people made that assumption and no-one even considered that Taylor might not be a woman is a sign that the workplace doesn’t exactly have an overabundance of allies. Considering the number of places in the world and in the US where coming out can mean firing with no repercussions, it really isn’t that surprising that OP didn’t want to come out until he was more certain about the attitudes of his coworkers.

      1. Vic*

        So is this a better solution? A strange situation where some people know, some people don’t, then your boss finds out and feels embarrassed, or pissed that you didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt that he’d be okay with it? And you claim you didn’t tell the truth because it wasn’t your responsibility to correct him?

        Frankly, “coming out” is a privilege and a luxury—gay people are one of the few minorities who have a choice whether to hide it (you can’t hide that you’re black).

        And the only people who really have the “luxury” of staying in the closet are usually those who don’t present as “gay”; the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.

        By staying in the closet (which at base is hiding who you are), unless it involves your safety, you are living feelings of shame every day, whether you realize it or not, because you are always concealing or deceiving—not maliciously, but you’re still doing it. (And let’s remember that the OP never said he feared for his safety or his job but in fact was worried seeming ethical.)

        I find it very entitled to expect that others immediately accept you when you come out, no questions asked, after you’ve been pretending (and in essence confirming) you’re straight. That’s not how human relationships work. It’s great if someone can see your reasoning, but it’s also completely understandable for someone to feel hurt that you assumed they couldn’t handle it.

        1. Random Commenter*

          Assuming that not correcting someone is the same as pretending you are straight is highly heteronormative.

          Also the boss didn’t “find out”. OP told them.

          1. Vic*

            Have you found that staying in the closet or refusing to correct heteronormative assumptions are good ways of combating heteronormative thinking?

            They don’t seem effective strategies to me, but I’m interested in hearing how they’ve worked for others.

            1. i did, i did, i did*

              >Have you found that staying in the closet or refusing to correct heteronormative assumptions are good ways of combating heteronormative thinking?

              It’s not my job to combat heteronormative thinking. It’s my job to stay alive and get paid enough to pay the rent and put food on the table.

            2. Random Commenter*

              Fiest of all thank you for asking because I’ve been thinking about this for a few hours now.

              I see where you are coming from. I understand that lgbtq+ people remaining closeted helps invisiblize the community. But I think that it’s more important that people protect themselves if they feel they have to, while at the same time fighting in other ways to make it so that they no longer have to.

              Personally, I’m out as bi/queer at work and with my friends. But I haven’t told my family, because they are conservative and I haven’t been in a relationship with someone my own gender so far, so I think it would fracture the relationship in return for nothing. Because I haven’t been in any same sex relationships, to me it’s not hiding so much as not telling them details they don’t want to know in much the same way I don’t tell them about one night stands for example.

              So I’m letting my family think I’m straight even though I’m not, it just looks that way.* But I do fight against their preconceived notions about the community, by arguing a lot, by educating them, by exposing them to queer culture, by introducing them to my friends. They know I go to pride, and that I’m an activist, and so on, and these are always topics of discussion. In a way I know that their assumption that I’m straight makes them more honest with me when discussing this, while I think that if they knew they’d be polite to my face and then judge in silence. So that’s my personal strategy at least.

              *I am very much aware that my particular sexuality allows me to call myself queer while having a lifestyle that “passes” as straight and a the privilege that comes along with it. So this is not quite the same as a gay person, I’m aware. Just sharing my particular experience to illustrate.

              In any case, and more relevant to OP’s experience, I don’t think that it’s the burden of every single opressed person to do the best thing to combat the opression in the bigger picture, if that means exposing them to harm. Not everyone needs to be a matyr for the cause. It’s ok to do what needs to be done. This is the whole reason it’s so wrong to out another person, it’s because there are still risks associated and it’s a choice that only the person can make: what to say, to whom, when.

        2. President Porpoise*

          I think that’s where I am on this. I know at least one former coworker didn’t come out to me (but did to other coworkers) because he assumed that I would be homophobic based off the fact that I once mentioned I was Mormon when he offered me some tea (pretty much the only time I brought it up at work in the two years he worked with me). I am certainly not homophobic, and I was actually pretty hurt that he based believed that I was a stereotype of my religion – which I have since left in part because of its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. I had thought we were friends, or at least friendly, but it turns out that he probably thought that I was a nasty bigot at heart. I wish he’d given me the opportunity to prove to him that I’m not what he assumed I’d be. It’s not his responsibility to out himself to me, and he owes me nothing, but still – I wish he’d felt safer with me than that.

          1. anon today and tomorrow*

            I mean, it’s not really about you. You could have made him feel safer instead of just getting hurt that he didn’t come out to you. When you’re trying to be an ally, it’s more than just wishing someone felt safe around you. You have to actively show that they can be safe around you.

            I don’t really blame your coworker. If I had a coworker who was part of a religion that is known for its poor treatment of the LGBTQA+ community, I’d be wary of coming out to them unless they actually mentioned they weren’t homophobic. You know you’re not homophobic and don’t agree with your religion, but your coworker might not, and if you stayed silent then it most likely didn’t do much to help him believe otherwise.

          2. i did, i did, i did*

            Here’s the thing. There’s a cost-benefit calculation always being done.

            Scenario: he comes out to you.
            Risk: you could do X thing that would hurt him professionally, stop being his friend, say mean words to him.
            Danger: high.
            Mitigation: he does not come out to you.

            Scenario: he doesn’t come out to you.
            Risk: you get insulted.
            Danger: Meh.

            If you want to prove you’re not a bigot to him? Do it pro-actively. Make it clear that you support the queer community in other ways. Make yourself seem a safe person and you’ll be treated that way.

            And even then there’s a risk. My dad supports queer people in general. But in the specific of me? Not so much.

          3. ElspethGC*

            I agree with anon.

            I’ve mentioned somewhere else in this thread that I’ve discovered a friend is Catholic, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know I’m queer – and yes, I’m *terrified* to come out to her. I haven’t seen any signs that she considers herself a definite ally, and since the default of her religion is that gross “hate the sinner” rhetoric – that I certainly don’t want to be subjected to – I’m wary of outing myself to her unless I’ve put out feelers first on how she feels.

            You said you were Mormon. That religion has historically been associated with conversion ‘therapy’/torture and has actively campaigned against equal rights in recent years. Unless you’d given any clear signs that you were a safe person to come out to, why would your coworker’s automatic assumption be that you disagreed with your church on matters of sexuality?

            It’s not the responsibility of queer people to cushion the feelings of those around them – it’s the responsibility of allies to make it clear that they are a safe person to come out to. If you didn’t do that, then why would you expect any different?

            1. Vic*

              I gather these commenters are non-hetero people who apparently won’t do anything to fight homophobia and heterosexism without feeling completely “safe,” which boggles my mind.

              What was the point of gay liberation? Did people at Stonewell feel “safe”? People in ACT UP? Can you imagine if Rosa Parks didn’t stay seated until she felt safe?

              Since when do gay people sit in the corner waiting for others to make them “feel safe” to live their own lives in public? Why give (straight!) people that power over you?

              Read “Gentrification of the Mind,”learn about people who paved the way for the not perfect but better world we have today. Take power over your own life. If it’s not your job to fight for your own rights until you feel “safe,” whose is it?

              1. i did, i did, i did*

                Oh wonderful, I’m having flash backs to the queer groups in undergrad who had no interest in anyone who wasn’t out, and thought you were traitors if you weren’t.

                No one owes me being out to them. Not straight people. Not queer people. I will be the first one to tell you that visibility is important. But that visibility has to be consensual. Having more out people is better. But it has to be up to them.

                If I make the decision to trade my secrets for my safety, that isn’t something you can judge me for.

                I don’t “give” straight people power over me. They already have it. My brother can decide not to let me be around his children. My employer can decide to fire me. My religious group could decide to throw me out of it.

                I have the luxury of being able to be out online. I have been out online for TWENTY YEARS. The only reason I can do this is because I’m pseudonymous. If the wrong people IRL find out about the specific ways that I’m queer, I could lose friends, community, support. And I’m in a relatively safe place now! I’m not financially dependent on my relatives, just my employer. I’m old enough that no one can force me into conversion therapy.

                It’s really easy to tell someone else to take a risk. But I’ve honestly dealt with more bull*** about this from the queer community than from the straight one. At least when I have my anonymous support groups from my religious groups, everyone understands why you can’t walk into the house of worship wearing a pride flag. In fact, that’s the one place I’ve ever heard people specifically tell other people not to come out, that it’s too dangerous, to wait until they’re financially independent.

                Far too much can go wrong if you come out. And that’s not queer people’s fault. It’s straight people’s. Don’t blame me for the faults that oppress me.

                1. Random Commenter*

                  > Don’t blame me for the faults that opress me.

                  I think all your comments so far have been on point to what I was thinking but couldn’t quite put my finger on, but this phrase in parcial, to me, nailed it.

              2. i did, i did, i did*

                Okay, I’m not done.

                Rosa Parks was a trained activist. Her actions were deliberate and heroic. People in ACT UP were also activists. People in Stonewall were *rioting* from the oppression they were under.

                Do you know how many people I’ve heard from who were kicked out of their homes for being gay or trans? The number of mothers who had their own parents steal custody of the grandkids because they felt lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to raise their own children? The number of people whose spouses got custody in the divorce because their sexuality was deemed in a way that wouldn’t raise the children as part of their religion, and so the spouses got it, and they’re not allowed to see their kids because they could corrupt them?

                I got off easy and I know it. I can build online communities, and I have. I have done what little I can IRL. But there are actual costs to being out, and dismissing them outright as gentrification of the mind is epically, disturbingly missing the point.

              3. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

                Not everyone has the same risk tolerance–either in terms of facing the same dangers, or of personality–and that’s okay. I’ll never know whether/how often being openly bi has cost me, in terms of work; I decided I was willing to take the risk, both because I want to know that my friends wouldn’t reject me if/when they found out I wasn’t straight, and because of what Harvey Milk said about the value of people knowing that they have non-heterosexual friends, neighbors, and colleagues. But “I’m willing to pay the price” is very different from “this won’t cost you anything.”

              4. Celia*

                My goodness. The burden of solving homophobia does not fall solely on every individual queer person’s shoulders. I came out to my coworkers and was instantly shunned, ostracized, and ended up leaving my job earlier than I should have, setting my career back significantly. I would absolutely not recommend this to anyone. What you are advocating for here is so deeply and shockingly unsympathetic and unrealistic.

          4. beth*

            The thing about being an ally is, it’s not actually a state of being. It’s an active process.

            If you want someone to feel safe with you, you need to be acting in a way that shows them that they’re safe with you. If you want a gay person to feel safe coming out to you, you need to be taking active measures to make the space around you safe to be out in–for example, maybe you push for initiatives to set up policies explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people at your company.

            If you’re just passively not being prejudiced, that’s nice? It’s certainly better than being actively threatening. But it’s not actually helpful, either. It’s just quiet coexistence, which is neither here nor there and gives me no information whatsoever on how much of a risk it would be to come out to you.

            If you want people to feel safe opening up with you, you need to create your own opportunities to show that you’re safe–not just wait for marginalized people to risk themselves to create opportunities for you.

          5. President Porpoise*

            Thanks all for the replies to me. I don’t bring up religion, politics, sex, or really much of my personal life at work – mostly because that’s kind of the culture here. I wouldn’t have even brought up my Mormon-ness had it not been a “oh, thanks so much for this tea! It looks delish but I can’t drink it.” “Oh, medical thing?” “No, Mormon. But I really appreciate it.”

            As for being an ally – I agree that actions are much more important than just general goodwill. As it happens, at the time, I was actively assisting my gay best fried and his husband with their first son’s adoption – something that it turned out my church leadership had a huge problem with me doing. The problems with my involvement in the church were many and varied, and of long duration, so if he’d asked me at all about my religious views he probably would have gotten an unvarnished picture of where I stood on all of those issues that might have been of concern to him. Probably it would have come up if we’d talked more about personal lives. I know it’s not about me, but wow, I hate that people just assume stuff – in all directions.

            1. Ciara*

              Do you really expect LGBT people to grill every Christian they meet about the intricacies of their relationship with their religion and whether or not they believe they are going to hell for who they love? I get that it sucks to have people assume things about you, but if you are a member of a group that has historically oppressed and literally tortured members of another group for immutable facts of their existence, the onus is on you to actively prove that you’re an ally.

        3. anon today and tomorrow*

          Wow. There’s so much homophobia in this statement that I’m speechless.

          And yes, I realize you said you were gay, so maybe internalized homophobia is another word, but these thoughts are certainly of no help to a lot of LGBTQA+ individuals.

          1. Vic*

            I’m curious to understand how encouraging people not to stay in the closet reads to you as internalized homophobia.

            1. Random Commenter*

              Because you are encouraging them to potentially endanger themselves and blaming them for their own opression.

    5. Gayked and Afraid*

      I am about to go to bed so I’m not going to touch this one for now, lol. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have worthwhile thoughts to add.

  70. Wendy*

    Hi OP. I just wanted to wish you all the best! My spouse and I have been in really similar places, and for us, moving to a new city was a great and really freeing. I love my home city, but living somewhere else has made us both feel a lot freer and safer. My new city is a larger, and my neighborhood here is really diverse and LGBT friendly, which helps a lot. We’ve also both felt a lot more comfortable at work here.

    I’m sorry your current job situation went less than ideal. I know the feeling of coming out actually making you feel more trapped and lower, It’s hard, but it sounds like you have a solid plan, and a really strong relationship. I’m wishing you a ton of luck with everything.

  71. Bulbasaur*

    Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out the way you hoped.

    This is an enlightening update for me as I think I could very easily have reacted much the same way as your manager did. I don’t think it would have occurred to me that you might react the way you did, but based on the update I can clearly follow your reasoning and understand why you feel the way you do. Hopefully it will help me to be more empathetic if I am ever in the same situation as your manager.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what might the manager have done differently in this case that would have made you feel better supported and accepted? Or is this a change that you feel you would have needed to make regardless?

  72. restingbutchface*

    Good for you, you trusted your gut. Congratulations on your new start and having such a supportive husband to be. What a catch :) sending you love and good thoughts x

  73. theletter*

    Can I put in a good word for Chicago? We have romantic ice skating in the winter, fantastic beaches in the summer, a yearly parade, a whole ‘town’ of bars celebrating LGTBQ+, restaurants featuring food from almost any place you can think of, great theater, a big individual-contributor athletics community (a marathon, several 5K’s, lots of groups that organize soccer/softball/etc).

  74. HereKittyKitty*

    Good luck OP! I loved moving to another state and being able to assert myself as being bisexual. I, too, always found it a bit difficult to be back home, or even in a job where I previously wasn’t out. A fresh start where all the new people I meet know I’m bi has been refreshing!

  75. SigneL*

    It makes me immensely sad that this is happening in 2018, even though I know that it does. Wishing you much happiness, OP.

  76. Bostonian*

    Pick Mass! Pick Mass! (Ok, I’m biased… BUT, in my defense, a friend of mine who moved from Ohio with his husband can’t stop raving about how much better in Mass it is. And, yes, I realize Ohio may be a low bar…)

    Wishing you the best of luck with the move. I’m sorry to hear that coming out at work was such a negative experience for you. I hope that a fresh start for you and your fiance will be just what the doctor ordered.

  77. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

    Gay woman here, OP. I hope your future is rainbow bright. I understand your feelings very well. I’m in NM and while accepted, it’s still not uncommon to see and hear homophobic things. My co workers are “you don’t look like a lesbian” and wouldn’t understand how insulting that is. I grew my hair out then chopped it again and one of my co workers was very upset and I can only think it’s because short hair was more gay to her–in other words, I wasn’t passing. Good luck!

  78. CanadaTag*

    I’m sorry things went as they did, OP, but I’m glad that you and Taylor were able to discuss the situation and come to a decision that you feel will be right for you. As with many others, I send you both {internet hugs}, and I wish you all the best. And yes, starting over can definitely be the right decision. (I grew up in Toronto, aka major urban centre in Central Canada, and now live in a small city on the east coast that has a much slower pace of life, and it’s been a wonderful change for me. Not that I’m working – I’m off on disability due to autistic burnout – but the change in pace of life and other things has made a huge difference for me.)

    All the best to you and Taylor, and I hope your wedding is a wonderful one!

  79. Nom Nom De Plume*

    I am nearly 70 years old and it breaks my heart to realize that the same hatefulness and prejudice that was the default setting of my childhood is alive and well 6 decades later. I wish you and your fiance all the best, and hope that you find a community where you feel safe, included, and loved.

  80. AKchic*

    Good luck to the both of you on this job search and fresh start. It can be hard to break old habits, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall back in to old patterns even in a new location.

    I hope everything works out well for you and Taylor. I wish you both the best.

  81. Suzy Q*

    I’m sorry you’ve been feeling left out of things at work, while also acknowledging that there could be other reasons.
    In any event, what you and your fiancé are doing – moving somewhere new for a fresh, honest start – sounds wonderful. I wish you all the best!

  82. Bookworm*

    Thanks for the update OP! Sorry this is how your work decided to treat this.

    Good luck in finding a better place and better fit!

  83. MassMatt*

    OP, thanks for the update, even though it wasn’t an ideal outcome. I am impressed that you read all the comments and found value even in ones that were wrong and insensitive.

    And hats off to Alison for making this a safe and inclusive community! This is not what internet comment boards are known for, to put it mildly.

  84. I'm in the Wrong Story*

    Late to the party, but I wanted to put in a plug for Orlando. We have a highly visible queer community! We have the best possible score from the Human Rights Commission! And no winters! (And most important for me, my two out-and-proud kids feel safe and supported at their [public!] schools.)

    OP, I wish you all the best, wherever you land.

    1. DreamingInPurple*

      I wish I could come back there… I lived in Orlando for 8 years and loved it, but had to leave when I finished school 4 years ago because I couldn’t get a job. How is employment around there now?

      1. I'm in the Wrong Story*

        I honestly have no idea, sorry! I’ve been out of full-time work since 2006 (by choice) and most people I know have been in their jobs forever.

        Though I have not heard it’s particularly bad, so maybe it’s getting better?

  85. Bowserkitty*

    Good luck OP, I have been wondering about you. I would love to recommend SF because I felt truly at home there when I visited as a tourist ages ago but man is it expensive!!!

  86. Joie De Vivre*

    I am so sorry your update wasn’t a happier one. Good luck with your move and future job.

  87. OyHiOh*

    For cis straight people wondering what you can do to be seen as safe confidents at work, the candidates listed on victoryfund . org appreciate your support. One person on this list represents the next district over from mine (and I live practically on the district line). I have her signs in my yard today, along with those of her progressive counterpart in my district.

  88. narya*

    I just want to say congratulations to you & your fiance! I am very sorry with what happened to you at your workplace, of course, but I wish the best for you both! I think, or at least hope, there are many more people out there who wish you happiness & goodness than anything else, and you’ll be welcome wherever you go. Good luck to you!

  89. chickaletta*

    Just want to wish you the best also! I’m so sorry your office situation turned out the way it did, I wish we lived in a world where that kind of stuff didn’t happen. I hope that the fresh start in a new place will be everything you hope it to be. Good luck!

  90. Eva*

    Hey OP!

    Who am I to decide anything for you, but since you are asking for advice, I must say the one thing that concerns me.

    Where you are might change, but you won’t. You admit that you might be reading the situation wrong, and that the fact you weren’t invited for lunch and happy hour has nothing to do with the situation. Maybe you have a tendency to take things personally and attribute them to your sexuality when they may have nothing to do with it – and considering how dumb some people are and how much you might have suffered already, that’s completely understandable.

    However, what are you going to do when you move and you still get scared and afraid that people are treating you differently because of that again?

    I don’t know what is the best move for you, but don’t expect to change yourself just by changing where you live or work at.

    Either way, please know I wish the best of luck for you and your fiance =]

    1. mcr-red*

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. The fact that you weren’t invited to lunch or happy hour may seriously have nothing to do with your sexuality. As you said OP, it takes a lot of planning to not eat alone at your office. The happy hour drinks could have been last minute impulse thing. Do you normally go out for drinks with the group? My team knows I’m a “you’re all great, but I want to get home to my family” kind of person and don’t tend to socialize outside of work. They may not have invited you because they know you want to get home to your fiance and not hang out with people from work.

      I think you and your soon-to-be husband have a good idea, though. Sometimes you just need a fresh start, and you are entering into a new chapter in your life, so what better time than now!

      I guess my advice is just don’t go into a new work situation looking for ulterior motives of your coworkers. People are going through their own issues in life, so Janet may be thinking of her impending divorce and wanted to sit in her car and cry at lunch at that’s why she didn’t invite you to lunch. It had nothing to do with your sexuality.

      Congratulations for your wedding!!!

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      A lot of that depends on where you are and how safe you feel in that area. I wouldn’t read anything into OP’s thoughts if he were in, say, Arkansas.

    3. CM*

      From the OP’s comments on this and the other thread, it sounds like he has a long history of feeling unsafe where he is. And it really does wear on you to have this constant awareness that people hate you for who you are. Even if individual people are lovely, even if this workplace rallies around him, it’s still hard to be in that situation where you have to be monitoring what you do and say in case you slip and say something like,”My husband and I were grocery shopping when…”

      So I think it’s great that OP is choosing to go somewhere where he feels more welcome — and I also applaud people who decide to stay put and live their lives and carve out a community for themselves.

  91. SherSher*

    I just want to throw in my encouragement…. I hope you find a place where you can be comfortable being you. I’m a straight while female and have zero experience with what you are dealing with, but I truly wish you all the best.

  92. Warm-blooded icicle*

    Captain Awkward has this thing about divorce that might be applicable here: Wanting to leave is a good enough reason to leave.

    Best of luck OP and I hope we’ll get an update from you next year.

  93. always in email jail*

    I’m vicariously excited for you and your partner and the potential upcoming move. I’m so sorry for the circumstances, but I really, truly hope you guys find amazing jobs somewhere you feel safe. Sometimes a change in location is a great reset, and I really hope it works out for you!
    PS I hope you find somewhere warm, with a beach! (Since I’m living vicariously)

  94. DeepBreath*

    OP, I’m worried that you’re jumping the gun a little. I don’t think your coworkers will view this as you lying to them. I wouldn’t. I would view it as the way you chose to handle personal information that is not easy to handle.

    I think you should give it more time, and don’t assume that missed invitations are discriminatory. Just be yourself, do your best work, and stay positive. If there are clear patterns after a few weeks or a couple of months, then make a decision. But it sounds like you’re making some huge life decisions based on (possibly emotional?) assumptions when this news is very fresh to everyone. Give your coworkers a chance to prove to you that they can step up and treat you with respect.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Moving areas is about so much more than just one job, though. If OP and his fiance don’t feel safe in the area, leaving is a very good choice. LBGTQx people have reason to be nervous, given the current state of violence towards non-majority populations in the US.

  95. Jules the 3rd*

    OP, I hope you and Taylor find a place where you feel safe and happy. I’ll put in a plug for the triangle in NC – despite the state legislature drama llamas, the triangle is a large, diverse and welcoming area. From granola Chapel Hill to funky Durham to button down Raleigh, there’s community here, and family, and stuff to do, without being overwhelming like NYC.

    I will also say that the ‘best places to work for x’ lists reflect reality, in my experience. Human Rights Campaign has a good LBGTQx list.

  96. Galatea*

    One of the worst things about being gay, in my experience, is that coming out often becomes begging forgiveness and kindness from people who hurt you with their homophobic (or just heterosexist, but still) actions, words, and assumptions. Coming out is scary and there can be huge consequences for it.

    Additionally — in my experience, you can tell when someone is uncomfortable with gay people — there is hesitation or people laugh at your jokes a little too loudly, nothing you can say to straight people to get them to understand why you’re freaked out, but its there. It’s rare ime to have an incident like this happen where it FEELs like homophobia and not have it turn out to be homophobia. I really dislike implications the OP “owes” it to the people who have made him worry about his position at the company to deal with their feelings until (if) they step it up.

    Anyway, good luck to you, op; hope you find a safe place to land.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      If you read OP’s comments, you’ll see that OP has talked to other friends, and been told really hateful, hurtful stuff, like ‘we can’t have you around our kids, exposing them to that lifestyle.’ The work behavior was ‘the last straw’ for wanting to leave the area, not the first strike.

      And really, if OP’s in an area where LGBTQx people are not safe (ie, huge parts of the US), not saying anything is a safety issue. He’s got every right (and a whole lot of reasons) to prioritize his safety.

  97. Michaela Westen*

    Hi OP, I was wondering how you’re doing. I’m glad you came out because now you don’t have to wonder and worry about it.
    I was going to say, maybe if you hang in at your job things will get back to normal and you won’t feel like every little thing is directed at you. On the other hand, maybe it will get worse.
    You could wait and see what happens, but if you have an opportunity to move to a more gay-friendly area, why not?
    Please don’t worry about responding to every comment. I would find that overwhelming anyway. :) It sounds like you and Taylor are smart and resourceful and I’m sure you’ll be fine wherever you end up.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      P.S. – the north side of Chicago is very gay-friendly. It’s become even more so in the last few years.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Also there’s a LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce here which I expect would know where to find gay-friendly churches. There are probably similar organizations in most cities. Maybe there’s even one where you currently live?

  98. No Name Yet*

    OP – after reading some of your comments here, I have a non-work-related suggestion: when Taylor is interviewing for jobs, look for local open/inclusive/accepting churches in the area.

    It sounds like (100% understandably!) the rejections from your family and church home have been the hardest part, and work was the icing on the cake. I don’t know your denomination, but in the 7 places my wife and I have lived over the years, we’ve always been able to find a church that was welcoming to us (and fit other criteria we found important at various times, like being welcoming to 20-somethings without kids or being welcoming to kids during the service). We’re Episcopal/Lutheran, which absolutely makes that easier to find than in some other denominations – but definitely worth looking. Some of the larger denominations have lists on the national websites of churches that identify as inclusive, which can be a place to start (though in my experience those aren’t always fully up-to-date, so I wouldn’t necessarily assume a church not on that list would be hostile).

    On a work-related note: I’m a cis-bi woman married to a cis-bi woman, and while I’m not terribly femme, I ping on nobody’s gaydar. So coming out is an ongoing process, over and over, at work and otherwise. Which sucks. We’ve been together a long time, and when I was younger I absolutely didn’t tell people at work until months after I’d been there and thought it would be okay based on knowing them – I remember the first time I did, and literally trembling with anxiety when a coworker and I were looking at a magazine article about a wedding and I “casually” mentioned something “Jane” and I thought about doing if/when we got married. My coworker looked a bit startled and kind of blinked at me, and then it was fine.

    At this point in my life, I’m not interested in working somewhere I need to be closeted with coworkers (I’m not out to patients), and I’m lucky enough to be in a field where that’s realistic. (We also chose to live in a state/area where that was going to be easier to find.) So now, I casually name-drop my wife during interviews and see what happens – usually just with the person who would be my supervisor, occasionally if there’s a colleague I’d be working closely with or someone who pings my gaydar. My wife does the same thing, though she presents as more butch, so I suspect it’s less of a surprise there. Obviously you don’t have to do this, but it’s also okay if you do. It sounds like your field may be easy-ish to get jobs in, and please know that this information about how people react is totally reasonable to use in your decision-making process.

    Good luck to you and Taylor!

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      In the triangle NC (if you happened to come here), the Quakers are especially LGBTQx friendly, but most denominations are pretty welcoming.

  99. VALCSW*

    This update hurts my heart. OP, I hope you find a job where you feel seen & valued regardless of whom you go home to.

  100. somebody blonde*

    While I’m not surprised it turned out this way, I am sorry it did. My tip for you going forward is that you should try to determine the company culture during the interview. A question like “what does the company do to promote diversity” should generally give you a sense of where they stand in general, and honestly, I think if you can casually mention Taylor and his gender, you’ll find out what they’re like. Maybe a few places will discriminate against you for being gay, but you don’t want to work at those companies anyway.

  101. Teacher*

    OP, thank you for the update. I wanted to share my own story because something similar happened to me and I really admire the self-awareness and humility you had in admitting that sometimes it is you projecting when you think you may have been treated unfairly. I spent six years living in my husband’s home country where I look, act and sound different from the people who lived there. There is a very negative view of my home culture in that place. I would often think that people were being mean, unfair and discriminatory against me because of it. But there was often other reasons for the way people treated me, often having nothing to do with my nationality. It took me a long time to admit that and stop seeing every negative interaction as related to my nationality and race. It took a lot of time and maturity for me to be able to admit that. I see the same thing in your story. I wish you all the best in your new town and surroundings. I think it will be good for you and your partner!

  102. sfigato*

    I’m sorry for the outcome, and I wish you and your future husband success in a new city. I’m a straight guy who has mostly worked in the San Francisco, and I’ve had queer colleagues at almost every job I’ve held and never thought about the fact that people might not feel comfortable coming out, or might not want to be outed, or could be fired for coming out in some states. Your letter and the comments were really enlightening. I hadn’t really thought about it from that perspective – to me it is like someone being Jewish or vegetarian – not my personal choice, but not something I think is any of my business to have an opinion on or judge people on. I hadn’t really thought about the myriad of negative consequences from coming out, or why some people might choose to stay closeted. Now I will.

    1. Gayked and Afraid*

      Thank you for your kind comment and thoughtful response.

      While this might be way too much for an internet thread, I would encourage you to re-frame homosexuality from a conscious choice like religion or diet is, and instead a fact of life – more along the lines of race. I am hesitant to say this because a reality is we just don’t know how or why people are gay – we honestly have not found genes or anything that indicate why I am the way that I am! And so I know that makes it tough when I tell people “I am only attracted to men” to believe that (after all, wouldn’t there be some science supporting it?), but I’d encourage you to make the “choice” to be attracted to a man for a day and see if you think that’s feasible or realistic.

      Hopefully that makes sense and gives you something to think about. Thanks for being an ally!

  103. min*

    I haven’t read all 500+ comments so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but one thing to keep in mind is that you will be coming out over and over again wherever you go. It was something that I wasn’t personally prepared for and it took a couple of years for me to get over the awkward feeling of it.

    Every new job, every new acquaintance, at some point you either lie or you come out. In the beginning, like you, I didn’t correct people’s assumptions if it didn’t seem necessary and this led to the same type of difficult conversations later down the road sometimes.

    When deciding to make such a large life change, be aware that it won’t change the fact that you will still be coming out on a regular basis. But also, know that it really does get easier with practice.

    I wish all the best for you and your fiance.

  104. Easter*

    Hi, OP, just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in this. I’m queer but “look straight” (giant eye roll). I can remember many times agonizing over how to come out to coworkers and professional acquaintances- will I interact with this person enough to make it worth it?, etc. But even worse were the feelings of guilt/fear/worry that it would be surprise to them somehow – all because *they* made an assumption – and that then they would judge me or react as though I was lying to them. Of course the flip side then was somehow having to casually interject my sexuality into brand-new work/professional relationships, just because I worried if I waited too long, it would seem like I had purposefully mislead them. So I felt like either they would be mad I lied, or they would think I was a weirdo who was talking about her personal life after knowing them for 30 minutes. This resulted in me intentionally staying closeted sometimes, which, just, no. I still struggle with this.

    Good luck, OP. I hope that you and your fiance have a wonderful life together!

  105. Rb*

    I think when you find a place where you can be your authentic self, you might be surprised at how many people accept it easily. Most of us do. You are a very self aware person and that is such a gift. Have a great and happy life!

  106. bigguy1999*

    Why were you upset that people ate lunch without you? To me, this is no big deal as lunch time is one of the few times during the work day you can have a little peace and quiet to yourself. I love eating lunch alone because it gives me time to relax and unwind during the work day without lots of noise or extra conversation.

    1. Elspeth*

      If you read Gayked and Afraid’s comments, you’ll see that there are more reasons why he doesn’t feel safe and that leads into why he was upset – he’s not in a very gay-friendly area.

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