"I’m thinking of taking a job (or at least, applying for one) that would have me very closeted, and living with my parents. If I got the position, I would probably take it—it is a lot more money than I am making right now, and it would be a good thing for my career in the long run. But how to maintain self-identity in the meantime?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
I, honestly, don’t completely understand the need to be out at work. Regardless of who I was dating or what their gender was, I was never the kind of person who constantly talked about my relationship with my co-workers. It’s always made me feel a little weird. I’m a pretty private person when it comes to my relationships, so NOT coming out never bothered me or made me feel like I was lying. PLUS, being gay isn’t the only part of my identity, you know?
HOWEVER, I understand that some people are not like me and they can’t just NOT talk about a part of them.
You and I are basically the same human bc I would take the job, too. Keeping work / personal life separate isn’t that difficult. I mean, after a while you start to make really good work friends and maybe you go out a few times, you get to know each other and they’re your one person who ACTUALLY knows you as a human. Make sure the people you’re hanging out with / dating know your stance on the situation, because if you’re out and you just introduce your girlfriend by name without saying she’s your girlfriend, you stand to really hurt her feelings. Just be open with the people you care about and you’ll be totally fine. PROMISE.
Dannielle and I are very different when it comes to keeping our feelings in. I have a really, really hard time being closeted in any capacity at the workplace, because I like to make a million friends and have long conversations and I always feel weird and like I am lying if I have to skirt around certain topics.
I certainly agree that it is no one’s obligation to be out ANYWHERE, and if you are like Dannielle, then perfect — the above will work wonderfully. If, however, you are more like me, then this could be a little more challenging for you. Putting myself in your shoes *slips on converse* I would say that the first step would be to look at this as a temporary, and ever-changing situation. You aren’t going to be living at home with your parents forever, and you aren’t going to have to closeted at work forever.
Second, I would talk to my close friends and my girlfriend, and explain that I was feeling really conflicted, but that it seemed like the right choice was to do this for now and see what came of it. Let them know you will need them even more as a support system, so that in those moments when you tell your coworker that you just “aren’t interested in dating right now,” you can go outside and call them up to tell them how weird it feels and how nothing is fair and you are angry, etcetera.
Third, I would urge you to take this day by day with yourself. I am sure that the job is a good one, and important to your future… but that NEVER, EVER means you should be hurting yourself deeply on a daily basis. If this is something that, after you begin it, finds a rhythm and you have moments of frustration but are feeling content overall, then okay. If you find that it is weighing on you and causing you a lot of stress, you have to re-evaluate the importance of things. You being depressed and angry all the time and feeling trapped will affect your relationships and your life as a whole. If that is how this begins to affect your life, you should consider making choices that will allow you to be you. Period.