Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Foot in the Closet Part 2

The last time that I talked about feeling more closeted than I used to it was in relation to living in a small town. Now I'm sad to report that another area of my life is feeling somewhat clamped down on, and that's my job. To put this in some form of context I was never completely out and open at my job in New York. I never came into work in drag nor did I talk about it brazenly with anybody in the office. However some of my co-workers who I considered friends were aware (some even came to see me perform) and that made it feel like I was never hiding anything. That's not the case anymore. There's a few things I think contributing to this closeted feeling as far as my job goes. Again I'm not one to flaunt, because while I have no shame about who I am I also feel that it doesn't define me nor is it really anybody's business. However regardless of whether or not I choose to tell anybody I hate the feeling that I can't. Feeling like the choice just isn't there anymore is what's getting me down at this point.


Photo by my wife Laura.

For the first time I find myself working at a company that actually makes something. So while I work in the office it's attached to the warehouse and the production line. These places are home to much more blue collar type workers than I'm used to being around. I hate to generalize and make it seem like "these people could never get me" but speaking bluntly it's far less likely that they would. It's also more likely that somebody out of the lot would be angered by somebody like me. Even in the office the co-workers in my immediate proximity are a bit more... rural than I'm used to at this point. The kind of folks who say "git-r-done" seriously. Nothing wrong with any of them, and I'm enjoying working there for the most part but it's definitely out of my personal comfort zone at this point. I didn't have this issue at my last job, because even though I never came out to anybody there I had the comfort of the fact that there was a very obviously and very openly gay employee. Just knowing he was there was a relief and kind of took the pressure off my mind. I don't have that cushion now and it gets me down sometimes. I don't expect to be able to prance around my job in a dress. I don't even really want to tell these people. I get along well enough with everybody but they're not the kinds of people I'd become friends with outside of work therefore not the kind of people I'd let into this part of my life. But for the first time I feel like I actually have to truly hide it and keep a lid on it. In New York a fair number of people know, at my last job they didn't but if they found out it wouldn't be a big deal. The idea of people at my current job finding out actually scares me, and that's a new feeling. One that I'm not enjoying. I'm sure some of you will think "Then get a new job." Except that setting this issue aside I like my job, I like the work and the people are pleasant. Besides where I'm living and in the economy we've got going I'm fortunate to have found work at all, so I'm not about to look that gift horse in the mouth. Just wish it's a gift horse I didn't fear was going to throw me off.

4 comments:

  1. You have my complete sympathy! (This is going to be a long comment, I hope that's okay!) (oh, and "get a new job"... um, even in the best of times, easier said than done... and there's never a guarantee that the new one will be better on this particular issue anyway).

    I live in a... fairly rural area and have my entire life. It has only been extremely recently that I have been "out" to ANYONE about my style preferences, and I certainly would not enjoy having to clamp down on my new found freedom. So far, I have had good luck, and a lot of people are much more awesome than I thought they would be, but I still have fears about "that one person" who will react extremely poorly... to the point of violence even, and certainly, a job is more risky about that sort of thing than other social venues.

    The one thing I have personally learned about "being out" is that I feel so much... saner, that I would never want to go back to how things were before... so all this long rambling comment is to say that I'm really sympathetic and hate to hear about the boat you find yourself in.

    For me... this all relates to one of that big reasons I started my own blog. It's the internet and I'm fairly pseudonymous, and if they don't like it, well, they can send me a nasty email. I realize this may not be your cup of tea, but I discovered style blogs, and realized that there was a group of people who really enjoyed fashion and posting pictures of outfits on their blogs, and so I felt I could give it a try, and just not make a big deal out of the fact that I'm a guy.

    And it's so far worked out very well for me. I've started going out a LOT more, even to regular restaurants. And it definitely serves as an outlet to dress regularly and interact with other people and for most of them it has turned out to be no big deal. I get some fairly natural questions from people who read it who don't know anyone who crossdresses, and I had a lot of fun MAKING a big deal out of it all around Halloween. (But hey, Halloween IS national crossdresser day whether anyone wants to admit it or not. :) ). Anyway, I know a blog is no substitute for real life, and I'm not even trying to make a suggestion, but I definitely feel like I understand where you're coming from with this, and you're not alone! Anyway, I hope something in all this was helpful, and I hope it wasn't an unwelcome novel in the comments! :)

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  2. Matt,

    The comment is certainly welcome but a blog will never be enough for me. For me what's so frustrating about all of this is the fact that it is a step backwards. I used to be much more out than I am now, and as much as I want that again it's sadly not realistic right now.

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  3. A blog's not even enough for me. Although mine has been helpful to me in becoming more bold. I would NOT want to go back like things were for me either... there were plenty of bad times... and I still have a long way to go. I'm ECSTATIC that I've been out with friends and my wife twice, EVER, to a regular restaurant to just have a nice evening out, and both of those happened this year. I know that's probably not impressive, but it's a huge deal to me, and amazing progress from even August of last year(when I started my blog).

    Anyway, I can't imagine how much it must suck to have been so out and free, and have to lock all that way. Of course, being "in the closet" out of pragmatic realism is very different than being in the closet due to straight up fear.

    And I have no idea what sort of people you're around either. My geography has some things in common with Vermont, and I have been pleasantly surprised with how people have responded to me when finding out. Especially my friends and even acquaintances in their early 20's are very open minded. (And religion is a big deal in my area too, and most of them are Christians and okay with it... the times they are a changing...).

    Anyway, I guess I'm writing all this as a note of sympathy. I have no advice or anything to offer other than my own experience. I certainly wish you the best in figuring something out.

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  4. You'll just have to get by wearing fabulous panties and lingerie to work every day under your boy clothes (like I do...lol).

    Leslie

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