The Cold ShoulderWhen I came out to my dad a few years ago, one of the things he said to me was that if I was openly gay my life would be harder. He said being gay would negatively affect my career, my social life, my family, and basically every corner of who I am. Luckily for me, so far he's turned out to be wrong. And, while coming out hasn't been 100% easy, it's definitely been more positive than negative.
But, in a way, my dad was right. There are definitely going to be people in this world that aren't going to be ok with me being gay. Certainly some (maybe most) of my extended family has at least some level of uneasiness with my being gay. They may not agree with it, but they at least put on a good face, and for the most part they did a good job of showing that their love for me was bigger than an issue like my sexuality.
So, my family is one thing, but people at work are a bit different. See, there's a couple at work, an older married couple. I'm not their direct supervisor, but I am a manager, and I personally hired both of them into their positions. I hired the husband first. He's a very nice, jovial guy and does a decent job. He's not the top producer in the office, but he's reliable and dedicated. So, when he referred his wife to work for us, I agreed to interview her.
The interview with the wife went very well too. I expressed my concern with her that having the two of them work together was a concern for me, and in an attempt to address my concern, she told me that she and her husband had a very Christian relationship where he ran the house and she served as his wife. It was an interesting comment that sounded odd, but I didn't think all too much of it, and she got the job.
As employees, both were very nice. They both regularly said hi to me when passing, and occasionally would stop by my office to say hello. All that changed, though, at our company's Christmas party. I went to the party with J and introduced him to the couple when I saw them there. But, as I introduced them, I noticed a distinct pause as they put two and two together. It wasn't that big of a deal at the time because most people don't realize I'm gay unless I told them, so I figured that was the issue.
Fast forward a few months. These days the wife of the couple never acknowledges me, except for maybe a half smile if I say hello to her first. If we pass in the high, she deliberately avoids contact. And, for those wondering, we did not have any sort of work-related problem to cause this. It's more than not just saying hello, though. The other day she had a question about a vacation request she put in that I had not approved yet, and instead of coming the 25 steps to my office, or sending me an email, or calling me on the phone, she emailed another manager that does not handle vacation time to ask her to figure out what the problem was. A very strange move by someone that used to swing by my office just to say hello. And, when I called her to follow up on the request, she seemed almost put off that she had to speak to me. When I asked her how she was doing, she just said, "fine." When I apologized for not getting to her sooner, she didn't speak, and when I told her the reason I hadn't approved the time off was because of a misunderstanding, she just said, "ok."
Needless to say, it was an odd experience, and it definitely solidified for me that the perception I had about her changed behavior towards me was true. I'm sure some people will think I'm reading too much into the situation, but I'm pretty sure I have it figured out. For some reason, the simple fact that I am gay made her change her entire perception of me as a person. The person she seemed to like in the beginning fell to the wayside, and she somehow created this persona of me as a gay person that she didn't want to have anything to do with.
It's sad really. Don't get me wrong--I'm not going to lose any sleep over this, but I just find it odd and disappointing. A Christian woman chooses to ignore what she knew of me and respond negatively simply because she found out I am gay. She seems to have chosen to take up arms in the culture war than look at the whole of the individual. It's just too bad that if we're supposed to "hate the sinner," this is how things end up.