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View Full Version : Help - I'm in sort of a quandry


exDS vet
02-12-2006, 02:38 AM
I am the General Manager of a family fun center in the Denver area. I have this small problem that is related to coming out at my job. I am out to my boss and the manager below me. They have had no problems with it at all. Our home office is also supportive and the company even offers domestic partner health insurance.

The problem is with my other employees. Many of them are between 16 and 18 years old and my assistant manager is 22. They all appear to be straight. And many of them come from very conservative families. And of course the nature of my business involves many young kids.

So most of my team doesn't know that I am gay and I don't know if they could handle it if they knew. The problem is that I have not had to hide who I am for many years, and I don't want to start doing it again now. Nobody has told me not to say anything, but I am fearful that if I do, people might jump ship.

Here's the question. Should I maintain the status quo with a don't ask, don't tell attitude? Or do I share who I am if and when the opportunity presents itself and risk many of my employees quitting or even worse, having their parents force them to leave because of it.

Any suggestions?

Mama Twinkles
02-12-2006, 11:15 AM
Vet, what frightens you about their leaving if they find out? Are you worried about your reputation if they leave, or about a staff shortfall? Their treating you like a pariah is no mark against you, however painful. I don't think your employees belong there in the first place if they would leave due to who you are. You are entitled to be there exactly as you are. I would be much more concerned about your own safety and well-being at work if you tell them. If you think you will be scapegoated, shunned, etc., then you don't have to be a hero by coming out. On the other hand, if you do come out and they mistreat you, your manager (or you) should come to your defense and fire them. If you stop hiding, you can educate and be a positive example to your employees, and above all can be free of the tension of pretending to be someone you are not, but ONLY do this if you can handle whatever judgment may be spewed your way. Put yourself first. And good luck. We are all with you, brother.

Rence
02-12-2006, 05:20 PM
Aren't you pre-judging the teens that work for you and their parents? Isn't this exactly what you don't want them to do to you?

This might not be a popular opinion but not all conservatives are gay-hating homophobes. I am gay and I have some quite good friends who would be labeled as conservative. Now most conservatives aren't going to support what would be considered the 'gay political agenda', but that doesn't mean that they will all be unable to deal with gays in a one-on-one situation. I find that for the most part it is a difference in political philosophies rather than a personal loathing/fear/whatever towards gays. Same is true on the other side, I have met folks who are very politically liberal but are truly homophobic in their dealing with gays personally.

So first thing I would do is not paint all these folks with the same brush. Try to get a better idea of who they are individually. My bet is that some will have no problems at all, while others may have issues. Not knowing the individuals involved, it is hard to judge. And again, you are dealing with a group of individuals, not a herd a homophobic conservatives.

It sounds like you have the companies support, which is good. I would try to determine who among the staff is most likely to be accepting and start with them. Rather than a big broad announcement, take it a step at a time. If you judge correctly you will pick up more allies and when someone finds out who isn't accepting,they will have to deal with "We've known for ages and its no big deal, what's your problem?" from the other workers.

Kevin&Randall
02-12-2006, 08:51 PM
As a former Colorado / Denver-area resident, I understand the poltical and social mores you are living with. I guess it was one of my deciding factors of moving to Florida.

In my opinion, if your boss and assistant manager are comfortable with you being gay, then you have the support that you need. You don't need to announce it to everyone, but if you are asked be honest, but brief. A simple yes would suffice. If someone wants to make an issue of it, make sure it is behind closed doors and with your boss present.

If the parents of your staff are having issues, that really becomes their problem. You might loose an employee, but I'm not sure it is much to fret over.

Take a deep breath. Be who you are. And good luck.

Randall

:rainbow:

exDS vet
02-13-2006, 01:57 AM
You all make some very good points:
Mama Twinkles;
It's been a long time since I have found myself in this unusual position. Normally, I wouldn't hesitate to share this with the team, but I guess their age and maturity levels are the issue, but is shouldn't be. They could always choose to leave. Staffing could be an issue, but we deal with that all the time.

Rence;
You make a great point, and I hate to sound like I am labeling people. The ironice thing is I have one girl who I have been considering promoting to Assistant Manager. She has said that her family is very religious and that her father won't allow them to watch television shows with homosexual characters on them. I can't choose not to promote her because of how she or her father might feel. I'm wondering if I remind her of what I know and then tell her about me and see how it goes from there.

Randall;
I lived most of my life in the San Francisco area, so this was never an issue. I also spent a few years in Phoenix/Scottsdale and no problems there either. Denver has been a little bit different. I'm glad you can relate.

Thanks again for all of your feedback.

Tony-NJ
02-15-2006, 07:43 PM
Personally I would keep it status quo. Eventually if they stay and get to know you it probably won't matter. Why would you announce that your gay? I'm out at work - however no one has ever asked me and I never really told anyone. Then again I'm not flamboient, and don't wear a sign, but it's also not hidden. Most people have been at the company for many years and most know Chris my partner. I say just be yourself, no need to "come out" is there? I'm also not saying deny who you are, I guess I just don't understand why it's an issue.

RickinNYC
02-16-2006, 09:30 AM
Personally I would keep it status quo. Eventually if they stay and get to know you it probably won't matter. Why would you announce that your gay? I'm out at work - however no one has ever asked me and I never really told anyone. Then again I'm not flamboient, and don't wear a sign, but it's also not hidden. Most people have been at the company for many years and most know Chris my partner. I say just be yourself, no need to "come out" is there? I'm also not saying deny who you are, I guess I just don't understand why it's an issue.

Tony, YO!

I completely agree with this post. No need for you to come out to one and all IMHO. Unless you think there is a true purpose to make a statement, let folks figure it out for themselves. Besides, this would be a great opportunity for some people who wouldn't normally think of "who's who" in gaydom to learn that we are indeed just like anyone else.

Like Tony, I'm not particularly flamboyant at all. Nor do I wave a flag or wear a "Have you hugged your gay co-worker today?" button. However, I am indeed out at work to most folks. They have either figured it out, or they've met Joe, my partner. I don't hide it. I make statements like, "Joe and I are headed down to WDW for vacation" much like anyone else would refer to their wives or husbands.

Viki
02-16-2006, 10:47 AM
Ditto to what Rick said. If my personal like is going to be shared I very much like it to be a slow evolution, as I would prefer no matter who I was partnered with.