What should I do about being involuntarily outed at work?
March 27, 2009 7:18 AM Subscribe
I'm about to be involuntarily outed as a bisexual at work. What should I expect?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I am a bisexual man in my late 30's. I work for a Fortune 500 company in a conservative state in the US. Although I have a college education, I was demoted last year from a highly skilled hourly position to a position as a factory worker to avoid layoff. I still make an acceptable wage for now and I have no intention of voluntarily leaving the company yet, especially in this economic climate.
After I transferred to my new position, I was assigned to work for and be trained by a man I will call "Bob". He and I work for an actual supervisor I will call "Jim". I'm pretty sure that Bob has unnaturally good gaydar, because he started to ask questions that were geared toward identifying my sexual orientation soon after we met. I never identified myself as a bisexual to him or anyone else.
At the time, unknown to me, a search on Google for my real name brought up my preferred internet handle, which was and is unique to me. A subsequent search for that handle brought up all the blog and usenet posts that I've made about my sexuality, my atheism, and a lot of other stuff that isn't anyone's business at work.
Bob started to blackmail me. He would make homophobic remarks to me,make thinly-veiled threats like, "people should be careful about what they say on the internet", and started a campaign to ruin my name as a worker with my coworkers and supervision. Last night, I heard him talking to our supervisor, Jim, about getting me fired for something that he had framed me for. I decided enough was enough.
Sexual orientation is a protected status in our company, so tomorrow I am going to file a sexual harassment case against Bob with the company. I've been told that Bob was written up a few years back for calling a lesbian at work a "stupid dyke". Hopefully, he'll be fired for this, though I have my doubts. Of course as soon as I do this, everyone I work with will find out that I'm bi.
As far as my bisexuality goes, I've been happily married to a woman for 15 years, have kids, don't flirt with guys or girls and basically live the life of a straight man (who really likes gay porn :). I decided a long time ago to stay in the closet. My wife and I are the only ones who know right now. She's totally cool with it.
So, my question (finally!): How should I deal with being forcefully outed at work when I am quite content (at this point) to stay in the closet? What can I expect from my mostly conservative coworkers?
Sorry for the long story, I just wanted to cover everything, since I can't respond to questions. TIA for your answers!