Work life issues...

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by amy.banana, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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    Hey AE readers! Any advice on how to deal with work would be a great help.

    I am a lesbian, and have started a new job about one year ago. I have a girlfriend of 3 years whom I love dearly. I sometimes hate my job because I work in a large facility (a hospital) and see many people on a daily basis. Most assume I am straight,, have a boyfriend, husband, and over time it has begun to bother me greatly. I am not the type of person to blurt out any personal information much less about relationships but more and more it has begun to upset me. Also, within my office setting some of my co workers know, but not all. I want to be comfortable at my job and one day be happy when I am married.

    I know I shouldn't give a crap about what people think about me but I have been struggling with my work identity greatly. I am not ashamed of who I am but I also don't want to be treated differently.

    Thanks for listening.
     
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  2. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    Then don't make it an issue. I have found that living quietly and letting people get to know me for me without the label preceding me is the best way to garner friends and make inroads. When I first started practicing law, I was very afraid of coming out and I ultimately was forced out of the closet in my first big firm job. It was uncomfortable.

    At another firm after that, it was much more embracing and supportive as there were several out people there. They prided themselves on "diversity." Since then and now that I have my own practice (which is in a bit of a conservative town), I've had to really give this some thought as my name has to mean something for marketing purposes (hey, I have to get clients somehow). So, I do things differently. I don't hide who I am, but I also don't spew rainbows the minute I open my mouth. When making small talk with colleagues, I mention my wife as if it's never been an issue. When I go to events, my +1 is a woman -- and I introduce her as such. A client asked me and my significant other to dinner, and when he asked his name, I mentioned a her (and there was no problem). So, we're going to dinner. :)

    The point is, none of us will ever be able to control other peoples' reactions -- some are going to judge negatively, some not. However, I've discovered that if I treat who I am as a nonissue, most likely others will too. The ones who will make it an issue have no relevance in my life. And frankly, doing what I do, I get judged all the time. I've had to develop a thick skin.
     
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  3. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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  4. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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    Thanks for your response and props to your hard work and dedication in law as well as in opening your own practice. What strength! You're right- it is a non issues, and some weeks I am fine with that, in others not so much. The world never truly knows who anyone is at face value anyhow, so why should I care. Still comes up though.

    A woman in my office who does not know however, who will never know makes off the collar comments about gays and marriage. One day that kettle is going to boil.

    I guess I will have to get that thicker skin soon enough, because this
    isn't going to cut it.

    Thanks!
     
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  5. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    Don't mistake me...my attitude evolved..didn't happen overnight and a lot of the crap you're dealing with bothered me too.

    The woman in your office -- probably has her own secret demons, so she projects her own negativity. Kill her with kindness...if she finds out, it will only irritate her more :)
     
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  6. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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  7. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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    Hahaha will do... very true:p
     
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  8. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    It is a little hard for me to answer, as you haven't given all the details. Do you live in a place where gay people are protected from discrimination or being fired at work? Is your Hospital a tolerant kind of place, or is it a religious Hospital, with a difficult environment?

    To me, with coming out at work, I think of 3 issues - discrimination, privacy and personal comfort level. Obviously, if you are in a situation where you aren't legally protected, you have to think about "will my employer be cool with this? Could I loose my job?" And while people shouldn't be 'scared into the closet' - sometimes they are.

    If you aren't facing that kind of possible discrimination, the next issue is privacy. Different workplaces are different about how much people keep to themselves or share. I tend to err on the side of being private. Even if I work in a place where everyone is TMI all the time, I tend to keep to myself to myself. So I do come out, but I don't go into tons of detail at work. Small talk level of sharing, only.

    Then there is personal comfort. Why do you want to come out? To end negative comments? So you don't have to watch your pronouns? So you can keep a picture of your gf on your workstation? So people don't ask you about a bf, or flirt with you? Because you feel defensive or protective of your gf?

    Coming out at work can change some of those things, but it won't change others. Like @Spygirl , I'm kind of a come out naturally at work kind of gal. If people bring it up, I answer truthfully. "oh, this weekend, my wife and I are going to paint the porch. Exciting, huh?" This approach works for me. It gets it out there that I am gay, and that I am in a relationship (the wedding ring helps, too). I don't feel pressure to use pronouns, or to lie / lie by omission when asked questions.

    But coming out isn't a silver bullet that ends all gay related work problems. A Hospital is a big place, so not everyone will get the 'I am gay' memo. It's not going to stop people from assuming you have a bf - until you've come out to like, the entire Hospital - which will take like 5 years. Maybe 10. So you can either be bothered when people assume you are straight, or you can just chalk it up to their issue and don't let it bug you. "Is my bf taking me out for Valentines Day? Nah, I'm taking my gf to a concert."

    It also won't change the homophobic people issue. Since I turned 25ish, I've always worked for companies that were very gay friendly and diverse. And I've always been out. But I've still had a coworker who spread weird rumors about me and a Manager who refused to talk to, or shake hands with my partner. And heard my share of dumb gay jokes, or gotten dumb gay email jokes.

    In each of those cases, I had to ask myself, did I think it rose to the level of discrimination, of something I really needed to face head on and file a complaint about? But tackling discrimination, is a little different from coming out.

    In my case, I decided not to file a formal complaint. Rumor spreader was a temp employee. Manager guy actually referred me to a good job years later, so maybe he wasn't so bad after all. And I confronted chronic dumb email joke guy with a - next email like this goes to HR and is CC'd to the entire office.

    I don't know what your companies' policies are. But you could look into them. If you are really worried an organization like GLAAD might be able to give you a little free legal advice. If your coworker is really bothering you, you might want to think about going down the complaint road. Or whatever steps your company outlines (like notifying a manager, or documenting what happened).

    Good luck with everything.
     
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  9. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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    To BlueNote:)

    Thanks for your reply as well. Sorry about not being specific enough-haha I am in NY so It really shouldn't be an issue. It is most likely myself making it an issue. It was easier at my older job because I was around people my age and now I am around an older crowd, not that I mind however many of them are married with children and are in that mind set.

    I laughed about the gay memo, it would be easier to just send one out. I am sorry you received nasty joke emails that is horrible I don't know how you dealt with that. Behavior like that would not be tolerated fortunately in the facility I work.

    I love my job but sometimes feel so alone being surrounded by so many people assuming one thing as well as being that. :(, and being 8 hours a day full time it can really be daunting.

    As far as that coworker who makes comments, if it continues I will ask her to stop, and if she doesn't stop than I will have to complain.

    I'm happy to hear all of those people that were awful to you disappeared- the hell with them. And thank you again for your wonderful insight, I greatly appreciate it.
     
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  10. Eloise

    Eloise Well-Known Member

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    I tend to keep my private business private at work. I really don't care what others think. I'm sure some think I must be a lesbian because I'm not married. Others probably think I can't get a guy. Whatever. I don't talk about relationships at work because that's not why I'm there. And, because like some others have mentioned, even though I work for progressive companies, individuals can discriminate against me if they have a problem with me being gay. I never want my sexual orientation to be the reason I was passed over for a raise or promotion, so I don't lay it on the table.

    Now, all this is good and well because I'm currently single. If I were in a long term relationship I would probably handle it differently. I doubt that I'll ever get married, but if I were to do so, I would not hesitate to talk about my wife the same way my co-workers talk about their spouses, which is hardly ever.

    In the end, you have to do what you feel comfortable doing. How I've handled coworkers in the past who use the Bible and the church to discriminate is to talk to them about those beliefs. I've found that people will have a conversation with me if they don't know I'm gay. I don't act defensive or irate at their beliefs, but ask them to think about them differently. If they knew I was a lesbian they would probably think I might complain to HR because of their beliefs and wouldn't talk to me. I like to think that others might just think about things in a different light if they are not being put on the spot or feel defensive about it. I've actually been more offended by office jokes about disabled people or dumb blonds than I am about gay jokes. Some people are just a-holes, so I don't let it get to me.
     
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  11. amy.banana

    amy.banana Member

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    This is very true! Thanks for sharing your experience as well. People are people and learning to shut it off and on at work is a good thing. The people that i am close to and trust know and the people I am superficially friendly with don't and that is how I keep it.

    I like the reaction to bible pushers. Devils advocate.
     
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