When I started coming out seven years ago it was terrifying. How would people react? Would I lose friends and family over it? I obviously survived all of those encounters. The awkwardness and fear felt so strong back then- I’m glad that I have put most of that behind me.
I know its cliché, but I just stopped caring. Obviously having the love and support of friends and family was extremely important, but after that I realized that I didn’t need to have an emotional investment in the insurance guy’s or my dentist’s opinion.
Now, I just want people to assume that I’m hella gay. I get annoyed when people think straight until proven gay. Like, I have an undercut, and wear plaid and beanies… do I need to be making out with my girlfriend all of the time for people to get my queerness?
For being out all of the time isn’t telling one that I’m a lesbian. It doesn’t come up in most day-to-day conversation. Being out is about my state of mind. I used to put on my ‘straight’ mask whenever I had to interact with a new person or go to a new place. That shit is exhausting. I realized that I didn’t need to ‘act’ to make my way through social unknowns. I know that in certain places that I’m probably not going to bring up my girlfriend unprompted, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less out. I’m still going to have my undercut, my plaid, and my girlfriend. The gayness is still being projected, even if I’m not hitting people upside the head with it.
Everyone’s journey is different, but it’s absolutely fantastic when you get to an emotional and physical place where you can just be gay all of time.
It’s absolutely freeing.
Last week a teacher was fired from Holy Ghost Prep Catholic High School after maintaining a marriage license with his partner in New Jersey. Griffen had worked at the school for 12 years, teaching Spanish and French. In this time he had brought his partner to events, and had also had administrators over to their house as guests.
The administration stated that he broke his contract by obtaining the marriage license…. but they’ve known that he’s been gay for over 12 years? Now, it’s a Catholic school right? What should I really expect, especially a Catholic school run by a priest?
My mother voiced the need for Griffen to sue the school into submission. In theory yes, that would be fantastic. Luckily the tide has turned and our rights can be won in the court of law. But…in the great state of Pennsylvania ‘fire at will’ is the legal policy that rules the state. (I’m not going to go into private school issues…. that’s a whole other topic that I’ll try to tackle next week).
Obviously PA needs to get their shit together and get on the marriage equality and anti-discrimination bus. But the thing that I keep coming back to is that Griffen has taught their for 12 years….. 12 years…..
12 years of being who he is…. and THEN getting fired. When is it going to be completely safe to be 100% out 100% of the time? Will there ever be a time where true work safety and security can exist for LGBT+ folks? Will a sweeping nationwide anti-discrimination policy secure peace of mind in the workplace , or is the fear of a loop-hole always going to make us afraid of being out?
I know that Catholic / private institutions will always have some right to hire / fire outside the realms of decency, but there is still a glimmer of hope that I hold onto; I hope that one day I could work with a Catholic run organization (shelter, hospital, school etc.) and not have my organization be kicked to the curb if I’m outed to them.
Maybe its the few people in my 12 years of attending Catholic school (more on that next week) but I would love to believe that this case in Bensalem, PA will be one of the last of its kind. I hope that the growing push toward true social justice inside these school walls will one day change the administration and hierarchy of the church towards an age of tolerance, acceptance, equality.