By Deb Morley
I once heard someone say that if you never go into the closet then you never have to come out to anyone. I really like this philosophy as it encourages me to be genuine in my relationships and avoid those painstaking “There is something I need to tell you” conversations with someone whom I wished I had revealed my true self to long ago. However, being out at work is different.
I have found that having a partner and now a wife has made it easy to be out as queer at work. One simple answer to the question, “What did you do this weekend?” has opened the door for me to be able to quickly and easily share that I am in a same-sex relationship and married. “My wife and I went for a hike.” Done. While satisfying to be able to so easily share that I have a significant other who is a woman, and that we have done that thing to our relationship called “marriage,” I shiver to think of all the assumptions that are then made by others with so much information that communicates so little about who I am and what I am all about.
A few months ago I seized a moment in a management meeting where I work to out myself as bi. We were having a conversation about the composition of search committees that we form when looking to hire a new employee for the organization. There has been a long-standing practice to include a “diversity member” (yes, that’s what they call that person) on every search team. That has resulted in the same small number of people of color who work in our organization being asked to serve on search teams again and again. I asked if our goal was to meet the legal definition of underrepresented groups or if we wanted to embrace diversity in the larger sense in an effort to represent our organization and show that we value diversity. When a few colleagues looked at me with puzzled looks on their faces, I pressed on. “For example, as a bisexual woman who is married to a woman, I feel that I represent a diverse segment of the population.” It was a moment. It passed quickly. But I was heard. “We would welcome you on any search team,” stumbled the head of human resources. That really wasn’t my point, but I appreciated the welcoming statement despite his awkward way of delivering it.
So while most of the organization probably still assumes I am a lesbian married to a woman (in my application cover letter which was shared with all staff I had mentioned relocating to the area with my wife), at least my peers on the management team know more of who I am. I am a bisexual woman married to a woman.
Deb Morley was active in the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network for many years before moving to the Philadelphia areawith her wife, friend and partner Gina and their two kitties, Lucy and Everett.