Calling in Gay

Posted: 10 December 2008 in queerlife, work

I found out late this afternoon that today was call in gay day.  Blame it on the Mississippi, but the news didn’t make it over here to lonely conservative Virginia.  I’m surprised I didn’t read it somewhere earlier, but I assume it’s because I didn’t make it on the gay agenda this week.  Kidding aside, calling in gay is an interesting way to raise visibility.  It’s a way to say “Hey, you know those people that work next to you, that you eat lunch with, that you joke with on coffee breaks?  Some of those people are gay.  Funny how they aren’t that different from you.  They don’t wear feather boas or toolbelts more often than you, they don’t make incessant sex-starved conversation, they aren’t any more (or less) depraved.  Why should they work for the same benefits as you do with fewer rights?”

That’s one way.  My wife says I didn’t get the gay memo cause I’m not gay enough (meaning that I don’t have a toolbelt) but she might say that because I have a different approach to raising the gay profile.  I’m out to all of my coworkers.  It isn’t a “when asked” policy like I adopted early in the Foreign Service, it’s an “always” policy (As an aside, I fully support that discretion as long as you’re upfront when asked or if confronted with an out-of-the-ordinary heterosexual advance.  It’s your right to keep your life private in whatever way you choose.  Further, you should have that right, and sadly, you don’t.  Right now, not announcing your gayness is tantamount to oppressing the whole lot of us, and it shouldn’t be that way.)   No, it isn’t okay to call my partner my roommate (and yes, people still do).  I’m unfailingly nice about it, but I’m insistent.  I apply this niceness, this good sense of humor, this ability to listen and laugh, to making sure the people around me know that, while I choose to be with a woman, I am as normal as they are.  I do my share of the work and I pay enough attention to my colleagues to know when they need a hand (my wife might say I leave it all the goodness at work too often).  I choose to raise awareness by being present, human and likable.  I couldn’t do this if I called in gay. 

Two different approaches, both equally as effective in the moment.  Both approaches leave an impression.  Here’s the link if you want the full lowdown on Day Without a Gay.  Now, in lieu of making you redeem points, I give you the proper Gay Agenda:

6:00am           Gym
8:00am           Breakfast
8:30am           Hair appointment
10:00am        Shopping
11:00am         Brunch
2:00pm          Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, State and Local governments as well as all other                 national governments.
2:30pm           Beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from stress of world conquest
4:00pm          Cocktails
6:00pm          Light Dinner
8:00pm          Theater
11:00pm        Bedtime!

  1. Digger says:

    I didn’t call in gay either, mainly because it would really have screwed the other staffer. Not the impression I want to leave.

    It is a shame that people keeping private about their sexuality holds us all back, but you are right that it does. My partner’s parents didn’t support gay rights until they learned she was gay. Now they do. I think most people, if they realized they have a loved one who is gay, would support full equality for us.

    In the meantime, I am as out as possible in part for those who can’t be. I have my partner’s picture on my desk. We bid as a tandem when looking for assignments. Because of my position with GLIFAA, I have gotten my boss’s permission to speak to the media. And I have gotten his signature on the GLIFAA letter to the incoming Secretary asking for full rights for the partners of those of us serving our country. So far, nearly 900 of our colleagues have signed the letter asking that same-sex partners be designated EFMs.

    I think, for me, all of that is much more effective than calling in gay.

  2. backlist says:

    I think those are incredibly powerful ways to promote our rights. I’m thrilled to hear how well things are going with the letter!

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