I have generally maintained that my sexual orientation (or anyone's for that matter) is private. Not secret, not something to hide or be ashamed of, but really not anyone's business. I understand that the implicit and explicit messages in the media, tv, entertainment and in our culture in general bombard us with hetrosexualism and LGBTQ folks need to make their voices heard, but for me it was important to not have my orientation be the only quality or characteristic people gravitated towards or focused on. I didn't think it had anything at all to do with my job.
Until. I had interviewed successfully for a leadership position and learned that my new boss had asked a mutual acquaintance "What team does she play on?", meaning me and was I gay or straight. Our mutual acquaintance replied that he must already know or he wouldn't have asked. Now the fact that my boss was a HE and that he asked this indicated to me that this could potentially be an issue and truthfully I was unsure how to proceed. It also didnt help that I would come to know that this information was shared with some staff prior to my arrival, as if as a warning. HE was a good old boy, meaning he was good and old and a boy. I determined that the best course of action was to proceed as I have always done. I worked hard, I built relationships and eventually could tease the good old boy about how well he was doing working with a lesbian. Staff came to accept me, but i always did and do wonder what the level of acceptance would be if I was more overt or flamboyant.
My journey has been uneventful in terms of coming out. Well that is not exactly truthful but in relation to my work or facing discrimination my story is tame. But not everyone's is and sometimes I feel that in this one area it is gay men who face steeper mountains to climb. But that is also why education is so crucial, so that kids don't have to face discrimination but rather acceptance. It is why I get braver about coming out to people so that the issues around orientation normalize and become part of our (OUR) culture.
Diversity in education and leadership increases depth and richness. An organization is more productive and healthy the more diverse it becomes.
Perhaps I need to be less private. Perhaps I need to be braver so others can find their way. My work and journey continues.
Thanks for reading and letting me share.