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How to deal with the Str8 World?


Trixie
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I've been spoiled, I suppose. For the past ten-plus years I've been working in a enviroment that was totally gay. Gay, gay, gay as the day is long, guys and gals, gays of every race, creed and color... it was 10 hours every day of 'We Are Family..." In that cozy existence, I let my guard down, and forgot what the world is really like.

 

But last year, lured by a salary nearly double what I'd been making, I moved on to a new career. A new career in a much larger place... in the suburbs.

 

The impact of being the only gay (at least the only 'out' gay) of some 70 employees didn't strike me at first. I was busy learning the new routine, gamely taking on the challenges of being an old dog facing new tricks. That's all been ok, I've grown comfortable with the daily workload, even fond of it. BUT... my co-workers continue to leave me with a daily case of sour-heartedness.

 

I'd forgotten what it was like, being the lone homo. The gossip, the ever-so-subtle slights, the overtures of friendship consistently being taken the wrong way. The inability of the majority of the male staff to greet me in the morning, or look me in the eye, for fear of being perceived as "suspiciously friendly" by their peers.

 

It's been a long time since I've had to deal with the str8 world on it's own callous terms. I've become rusty at defendng myself from it, and find myself easily sucker-punched by every awkward moment and slight- real or perceived. It's making me crazy, and depessed.

 

I know we have a huge cross-section of America (and beyond) here on the board. I'm sure many of you find yourself in the same sort of environs... I would love to hear some stories and advice about how you all deal with high-school like atmospere of the suburban workplace. Because frankly, I feel very lonely these days, and need help coping.

 

Meekly, la Trix

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Hi Trixie,

 

I think I know what you're going through, and I sympathize greatly.

 

I've been at my current job for twelve years. When I first started, it was a small group of about forty people, all of whom knew I was gay, and almost all whom were accepting of that fact.

 

Now, after much growth and a semi-hostile takeover, I find myself part of a huge multi-national organization, with over 400 people in my group alone, most of whom don't know me.

 

Many of the new employees in my group are younger straight guys, and after years of being extremely friendly (touchy feely even) with my coworkers, I have suddenly found myself being treated like the weirdo of the department by all the new guys.

 

I would like to add more comments, but I'm already late for work, so I'll sign on tonight and comment further.

 

Keep your chin up! :)

 

...Hoover

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Well, I can certainly relate. A while back, I worked in a department at an SF hospital where all 3 in our department were gay men. It was great. I could openly talk about and ask questions on any topic unique to gay men. Including the use of escorts, by the way!

 

The worst experience I ever had was teaching in Catholic schools. No way could anyone be open about his or her sexuality, including straight people. When the AIDS epidemic hit, the church had a knee jerk reaction when several teachers died of HIV. Needless to say, the parents were freaked as no one was sure how easily it spread. We had a whacko who came to schools doing an anti-drug hysteria program, and she calmly informed parents whose children had been in the class of a teacher with AIDS, that it was an airborne pathogen.

 

I still believe homophobia is alive and well in the workplace. During my lifetime, however, I have seen gay rights make incredible strides. The high point, for me, was the gay marriage supreme court decision in California.

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Guest Wetnwildbear

Hey Guys I understand and have shared your position.

 

I have worked for private family owned companies, large corporate

 

entities, educational and government institutions.

 

In all of theses cases I have adopted a Le Cage Aux Folles

 

attitude - I am what I am.

 

I never advertise that I am gay, I simply assume that people know.

 

When asked about personal issues I answer matter of factly

 

that my boyfried/partner/lovemuffin/same-sex date and I did

 

(fill in the blank _____________________________) this weekend,

 

we went to see ____________, we had dinner with__________, etc.

 

 

I always have and do treat it as a non-issue.

 

 

I have found that when I am matter-of-fact and put myself out

 

100% that co-workers react in a similar manner - i.e. "Oh that sounds

 

like fun or I want to see that show/band/movie/concert myself - what

 

did you think?"

 

 

As to those who react inappropriately, negatively, or in a

 

threatening manner, I document the incident in writing and notify

 

senior management in writing of same.

 

 

If there is any fallout, then you have created a record. Be willing

 

to fight for yourself - who else will?

 

More and More states and courts have little tolerance for

 

employment discrimination/harassment because of sexual orientation.

 

Employers and their attorneys know this and most want to avoid

 

litigation and want to retain talented employees.

 

 

If it is that bad - that you dont even want to fight - then

 

it is time to leave - $$$ can never replace self-respect and

 

happiness. If you are good at what you do (as most of us are) then

 

others will be greatful for your talent, dedication, creatitivty and

 

loyalty.

 

Peace-Love & Happiness

 

WILD

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I agree. Make friends with the women, don't bother with the guys for now. Eventually the guys will relax, or you'll just decide they're not worth the trouble. The women will probably enjoy your friendship and you'll probably find they have other gay male friends so they may be able to relate to you better than you'd imagine.

 

I worked in a suburban office park a while back and while I found it isolating, the bigger part of the problem for me was being bored at lunchtime. I didn't know what to do on my lunch hour and didn't want to sit at my desk. Eventually I joined a gym nearby and got a routine going there, and made some acquaintances there including other gay guys, and eventually straight guys too.

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It upsets me that you are seeing the GAY and STRAIGHT world as two DIFFERENT WORLDS. These days there is a blurring of the lines. Many "straight men" cross over or "experiment" because of the what they feel is an appealing lack of complication. Hey we know it...ALL MEN (STRAIGHT or GAY) are DOGS at HEART. My married brother OFTEN expresses jelousy that I am gay (gives you some insight into his marriage). Women see gay guys as good friend potential because they can be there for them in many ways that a potential male sexual partner can not be. We are in the age after the REAL WORLD, WILL AND GRACE and QUEER EYE. You might actually discover that you are not GAY enough for some of your co-workers. Some might approach you expecting you in ways to be an EXOTIC SHAMAN with unique artistic insight that they are lacking. My greatest concern is that your words reveal that you are approaching the "OTHER WORLD" with a defensive stance. This encourages a similar response from others. CHILL. RELAX. Be strong in who you are at the core and it will be respected and defended by others. Most people these days feel that their life is LACKING and they are NOT COOL if they do not have a few gay friends. Approach these "STRAIGHT STRANGERS" as people that you are offering the opportunity to "BE COOL" and add a new "COLOR" to their lacking lives. NEVER deny anyone the opportunity to know you...when that happenes both worlds lose.

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Hi Trixie

 

I'm sorry you are having this distress. I have a thought however.

 

I know you like to travel to exotic and strange places. You are in one now. Think of how you manage in those other lands. Pretend you are on a trip and it will all start to be interesting and maybe even amusing. You've been in tougher places than this and came out un-scathed and it all made for interesting stories. Release your inner tourist. Before you know it you'll be fighting off lunch invitations.

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>Hi Trixie

>

>I'm sorry you are having this distress. I have a thought

>however.

>

>I know you like to travel to exotic and strange places. You

>are in one now. Think of how you manage in those other lands.

>Pretend you are on a trip and it will all start to be

>interesting and maybe even amusing. You've been in tougher

>places than this and came out un-scathed and it all made for

>interesting stories. Release your inner tourist. Before you

>know it you'll be fighting off lunch invitations.

 

 

 

Trixie-

 

Foxy and I are basically saying the same thing in two different ways....do you want to be the UGLY Gay AMERICAN Tourist in "STRAIGHTLAND?"

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Releasing my Inner Tourist

 

Oh Foxy, you doll!! How nice to see you again!

 

Thanks for making me smile, and for the good advice, personal tales and good humor from all of you sage johns and their purchased pretties.

 

As for making friends with the gals, well, there are only three, none of which are fodder for the imaginations of the straight males. They are lovely women nonetheless although all three of them have this passion for baseball which I don't understand, and NONE of them watch America's Next Top Model, and so our topics of conversation are limited.

 

I know chatting about sports is always a good icebreaker, and some of the men like ultimate fighting which I adore also. but apparently we like it for different reasons, and my feeling is that if you don't get a woody watching it, why would anyone watch it the first place? So we don't talk about that anymore.

 

But I think that the rider of the winged horse may be onto something when he said that perhaps I am not acting "gay" enough. We do have a frequent client there whose sexuality no one ever has to wonder about. He is a walking 3-ring gay circus, and ostensibly the straight crowd adores him. I think I worry people because no one seems to be able to tell that I'm gay. In fact, when I first told a few of the guys, they thought I was kidding (As if straight men would kid about such a thing!). Maybe if I were more obvious, in a fun, big-flaming-queen sort of way... .

 

By the way, lest I give the wrong impression, no on there acts in a truly abusive or threatening manner. It's more the small acts of disinclusion that weigh heavily on my heart.

 

La Trix

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Trixie, I’ve read your posts for years and you come across as a very nice guy. And you seem to have a number of friends on the message board who really like you. So I would say that step one would be getting rid of the idea that there’s something wrong on your end, and rest assured that if your coworkers got to know you they would also like you, assuming they’re also good folks. And if they’re not good folks, then you sure as hell don’t want them as your buddies.

 

I’m not sure if being gay is a major part of how you interact with others, or if it’s just one of many facets of your personality. I’ve always found that my workplace friendships started with some shared quality, like a good sense of humor or similar political views. Sexuality - mine or theirs - comes into the mix later on, after we’ve decided we like each other, and are ready to start sharing more intimate parts of our lives. Sexuality can be a scary thing to lead with, for many people. I’ve worked in a few companies where sex - gay or straight - was not part of the workplace discussion, and I still had people I enjoyed hanging out with.

 

You also didn’t mention whether you want to be friends with everyone, as you were in your last job, or if you might be content starting with just one or two workplace friends. My preference has always been for a few friends that I have a really good time with. Then other people notice we’re having a good time, and want to join in.

 

Since you’re the new kid on the block, you may be the one who needs to make the first overtures. Maybe pick someone who is shy, and would really appreciate a lunchtime walk with you. If you have a good time, do it again, and invite a third person. Before long, I’ll bet there will be “Tickled by Trixie” coffee mugs on every desk in the office. :-)

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hmmm... I never thought of the merchandising possbilities attendant to my fetish. Perhaps I should sell the movie rights- with the stipulation that I might myself audition the actors that play my lovely, sensitive escorts.

 

La Trix

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