Prior to accepting my new position and moving to Cincinnati, my last several bosses were all lesbians. All of them were “out” but few of them discussed their sexuality; it was kind of an unspoken rule. We all knew they were gay but out of respect for them and their privacy, nobody discussed it.
After coming out to my mother and living first hand the shitstorm that often follows the experience, I went to my boss and came out to her, told her what happened, and expressed interest in staying with the company but leaving the state. From that point on, she became a very staunch advocate and an even better business mentor.
A couple of months later I am now in a better-paying, more challenging position - and I'm roughly 1,500 miles away from my family.
Beyond a fresh start and a wide berth from my Mormon upbringing, I have also been exposed to an entire world of diversity that I hadn’t previously known. In fact, there are more than 3,000 associates in my building and I have on my team of 15, a wide variety of racial, religious, and sexually diverse folks. It is amazing and something I never experienced in Utah.
One of the greatest things about this company, though, is that they don’t just acknowledge differences, they celebrate and applaud diversity. Along with hiring a broad and diverse workforce, they also provide opportunities for associates to join together with other like-minded employees so, this past week, I joined the LGBT Associate Resource Group (LGBT ARG).
This group of close to 100 associates meets monthly to discuss issues that affect the LGBT community and employees and they also organize community events and service projects.
Let’s just say I’m a little excited.
I may not be ready to wear my rainbow toga to work, but I finally feel like I’m at a place in my life and my career that I can be me. All of me. It’s a nice feeling; one that I haven’t felt in a long, long time (if ever, really). I think I am finally getting to a point in my life that I can follow the lead of my former bosses. I believe I’m fine with my coworkers knowing I’m gay and I hope they would be okay with it, too. Furthermore, I trust them to be professional enough to respect me and recognize that my sexuality doesn’t define me or my performance as an employee. It is just one piece of a truly unique and ever-changing puzzle.
On a side note, as we talk about work, I want you to know I considered changing my tab on this blog to say “Mike” rather than “MJ” a few months ago. But I didn’t. Not because I chickened out, but rather because I adopted “MJ” as my name at work.
My worlds are slowly colliding. I'm making progress and the steps are often small, but they are forward-moving steps nonetheless.
You know, it never really ceases to amaze me. Six months ago there wasn’t a chance in Hell I would be telling all of you this or would have even considered joining a gay group at work. But for some reason, you the readers (as well as my co-authors) have given me more strength than you will ever know. Thank you all. Anyway, I hope you all have a splendid week, thanks for reading. Much love to all of you!