I’m not really in the habit of getting into a work place and announcing my sexuality, sexual preferences or even sexual desires if you like. This doesn’t mean I’m in denial, I just don’t see the need to volunteer my personal info unless someone asks, then I gush it all out at your own peril.
However, when I do dress up my androgynous self cannot be missed, although some might misplace how I present myself as being masculine or even butch, but I’m quick to tell them my ‘butch’ is a state of mind and I love it but don’t wear it on my clothing… “Arg” (my attempt at sounding frustrated) – that type of thinking belongs in the 90s. We are evolving creatures in our sexual preferences, this notion is what adds to stigma and one being ostracized by society at large and more appallingly within our own gay community. There is just no linear, cast in stone way of being, this actually is a form of stigma that is quite prevalent at the workplace albeit in very subtle ways.
I went to a networking event for work with my male line manager a while ago, he seemed bowled over by my ‘networking skills’ but told me how saddened he was by my sexual orientation. My ears couldn’t believe what they we’re hearing, was this man really serious? Was he saddened by my sexual desires? How very odd, I thought. I am not sad about his sexuality. Anyway, it upset me that people still have this jaded mentality. These are my sexual desires for crying out loud, and no one but me and whoever benefits from them can have a say. If that was not enough, he went on to say that “it is a pity that, even with your hard work, you can’t get far in this organization, due to your ‘sexual orientation’”. I could have died right on the spot. ‘It’ then continued to say that “the men at work wouldn’t allow a woman like you to be in an influential position here, having you in a position like that would be like they do not exist.”
By now I was furious and begging myself underneath my breath not to flip my lid and completely lose it. In essence, me being absolutely in-touch, sometimes in a tongue in-cheek way, with my own God given masculinity, I was threatening theirs. I was momentarily gutted by what he said, it shook my world, for an instant. My views about the organization I work for changed, I would be stigmatized and frowned upon because of being me – my true self – a queer lesbian. I am glad to say I no longer work for this company.
This could have made me despondent and bitter but I chose to not let it affect me. Some people are just not worth it. It actually made me even more determined than ever not to be dictated to by societal prejudices. Before this stigma moment at work – I had faced the occasional stares in the lift or colleagues just blatantly showing you that they won’t greet you, but will enthusiastically greet whoever is standing next to you with that pretentious syrupy sweetness, “eeeuu!!.” Shame. I actually feel pity for those who have not allowed themselves to grow mentally.
It’s tough to have to go through this ‘stigma thing’ kind of all your life but we forge ahead and keep on pushing, don’t we? On the flipside there are good people who love and respect me for me regardless of who I choose to love.
Stigma and narrow-minded judgments don’t rock my world anymore. Not even for an instant.