I grew up in the heart of the Bible belt, a college town in W. Va. during the mid 1950’s and 1960’s, to a Southern Baptist family headed by a WW II veteran, military background father. I was not necessarily “out” during high school, but I was sexually active and had feminine mannerisms. My mother and grandmother were my best friends. In fact, most of my friends growing up were adult women because I could not trust people my own age. At one point the harassment in High School was so bad that I contemplated suicide a couple of times. In fact, I did eat an entire bottle of aspirin, (the only thing I could find in the medicine cabinet at the time), and fortunately, I only got a little sick. For some unknown reason God had something else in mind for me; even though I was always taught at church that I was a sinner, abnormal, and a freak of nature, I knew in my heart that “my” God is a loving God, therefore I knew he loved and accepted me for the person I am.
Until after high school, I always thought the word “gay” meant happy. I had always been called “queer”, “faggot” and other derogatory names that definitely could not be considered as ego builders for a young teenager. After I graduated from high school, I went to work where I was befriended by another gay man who introduced me to the local gay community in my home town, such as it was. We had two gay bars that were private clubs with locked doors. I finally felt that I was among my element and made many friends and became an active part of my home town gay community. I was finally out, or at least as out as I could be in 1970, in a small W.Va. college town. We still had to be careful in those days but at least we did have a place of our own where we could be ourselves.
It’s saddening to know that if I had told my father I was bisexual while living with him, that I would have been kicked out of the house, or worse.
It’s sad to know that although my mother says she’s supportive, that she says hateful, closed-minded things about it when she’s angry.
It’s sad to hear that many people who say they support LGBT people, don’t know what transgender means.
It’s sad that after confessing to loved ones about being trans, that they refuse to acknowledge it.
It’s sad when people who disapprove of who I am go out of their way to make me feel horrible. That people who are supposed to care about me over-emphasize “SHE” when talking about me, or use my birth name with a spiteful tone.
It’s sad when people call a boy a lesbian.
It’s sad to feel like I have to hide who I am when looking for a job, for fear that a potential employer would be less likely to hire me.
It’s even more sad to know that as difficult as my life may seem, that there are countless others who suffer so much more than I.
But it’s truly inspiring and heart warming to know that there are people out there who give a damn, and who are working hard to make this world a place where we can all find happiness.
I worked at a church for almost a year, teaching small children around the ages of three to five about how Jesus died for us and he is the all mighty one. I knew I was gay and I wasn’t afraid to show it.
One day from my one year mark at that job, the head boss called me into her office and there were two other women sitting down in chairs. They sat me down and asked me if I knew why I was there. I said because of something on my Facebook page – (I had already gotten in trouble for something on Facebook that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do).
They told me it was because of the way I spoke to my girlfriend on Facebook. They said it was inappropriate. If I was sending dirty stuff to her then I would understand, but all I did on Facebook was tell her that I loved her. They told me it was wrong for someone like me to teach children about god when I directly went against his word.
They told me if I was still in the closet about it I would be allowed to work there. Since I had come out of the closet I realized I had never been happier. It hurt me to have to leave all my favorite kids behind, but my beautiful fiance helped me through it all. She made everything better.
I live in a small town in North Alabama. I have tried to keep my sexuality quite by just letting my friends and family know. I went out of town to get a job at a local family restaurant. One of the girls I worked with found out that I was a lesbian and told my boss. That next week I wasn’t on the schedule to work.
I tried contacting my boss and she would never returned my phone calls. I asked a local lawyer what I could do about this, they told me that Alabama is a self employed state and that there was nothing I could do.
Since this I have been scared to go find a job and I have been living at home with my dad and grandfather.
I was a substitute teacher at our small community school my son attended and I was so glad when they asked me to help out there. I started teaching in Kindergarten and the teachers thought a lot of me. Soon I was teaching K-8th!
I enjoyed every single day that I was at the school. As soon as word got around that I was a lesbian, that’s when the teachers shunned me and I was not asked to teach anymore. I loved those kids and was deeply hurt by this. There was nothing that I could do! My son was treated badly and two girls would often do underhanded things to him that just broke my heart as a mother.
He didn’t seem to mind, but if he did he never said because he loved me very much. My son did not want his picture placed in his 8th grade annual. I never knew the reason. Was it because he hated that school? Did these kids hide his paper that he was suppose to have sent home telling about the pics being in the annual? I don’t know.
I can remember another time when he wanted me to spray orange spray paint on his hair for a week. I remember asking him why he wanted to do this and he said that he just wanted to. But looking back, I figured that they were beginning to make fun of him,s o maybe he thought he would give them a real reason to laugh. I don’t know.
I stayed in this small community, held my head high and time moved on. My son has turned out to be a fine young man and I am very proud of him! He will be leaving for the Army soon and fighting for our country. We’ve been thru a lot. My divorce when my son was eight,was also terrible.
My ex told all of our neighbors about me being gay. He also was told me that we couldn’t stay in our home becaue he would burn it down. So we left to move in with my mom. I had to sneak back in to get our things.
Today, I am still out and will never hide who I am. I love my son, family, God and my country! I will continue being who I am and YES I Give a Damn for sure!!!
Montana is sometimes called the last best place. With the way our state is going, I don’t think its turning into a best place, more like just a place.
In Montana, unless you have a federal or state job, or it is worded into the discrimination policy of your employer, you face the possibility of going to work and being fired just for being gay, lesbian, bi or transgender.
In 2010, a town on our western border, Missoula, passed a city ordinance to protect the GLBT community from discrimination within the city. Now, in the 2011 Legislature, a Representative from up on the highline (near Canada) is trying to get a bill passed that would overturn that ordinance.
For a while, I had faith in Montana that eventually we would get past being a backwards state, and be as accepting as almost every other state. That faith was boosted a few days ago when I heard that the State Senate was working on a bill to add sexual orientation to the list of things protected from discrimination.
My name is Jessica, a 35 year old EMT in South-Western Pennsylvania. I also happen to be transgender. A few years ago, I came out at work and transitioned on the job. My coming out letter to my coworkers was published in a book called American Heroes Coming Out From Behind the Badge by Greg Miraglia. It is Greg’s 2nd book that features stories of the GLBT community that work in police, fire and EMS. I am the only transgender story in either of Greg’s books.
My coming out story has been extremely positive. I have helped spread education to the other police and fire departments along with emergency rooms to put a positive face on the transgender community. But we need all of your help. The gays and the lesbians have done a great job in education and promoting, the trans-community has not. I know that some people feel that the trans-community is the black sheep of the GLBT and this must change.
I had worked up the courage to come out to my boss as trans and the next day I had a “talk” with her in her “outside office” so no one can hear. She had given me a couple words out of the bible letting me know how bad homosexuality is and me, being confused, kind of just stood there.
First off, I did not come out as gay and, second of all, that was just uncalled for. I no longer work there.
Thank you Give a Damn Campaign. That is just one of my many DAMN stories.
Peace and love,
I’m a 49 year old, twice married man, who, after years of struggle, and self-denial, came out last year. The first person I told was my closest friend, a married woman, who is also a co-worker. She, of course, decided that I needed a “Coming Out” party and started inviting various friends and coworkers. At first, this made me a bit nervous. We do work with a few homophobic people. The truth is that everyone at work simply accepted this “new” me as me!
A funny little side story to this. When I get into a bad mood at work, my coworkers say that my “evil twin”, Ted, is in for the day. Just before our staff Christmas party last winter, I was mentioning to my friends at work that I wondered what would happen if I told management that I wanted to bring “Ted” with me as my date. Another of my coworkers, one of the ones that I thought was the most homophobic overheard us, and in a very indignant manner, said that management had no right to say anything and that I should bring whoever I wanted as my date. I was very pleasantly surprised by his tone and his total acceptance of me and my sexual identity!!
I’ve read a lot of the stories on here, and it seems most of us have one thing in common: the workplace “cocoon”. I’m sure you’ll know what I’m taking about. Even if you work in an accepting environment, you still shield major parts of your personal life from your co-workers. You refuse to indulge personal information, regardless of acceptance. This defense mechanism shouldn’t have to happen, yet it does.
I haven’t been out very long (I came out as bi during a very drunk Christmas ‘09, and then as fully gay in March of this year), but I’m still hiding who I am to different people. I’m out to most of family and all my friends, but that’s it.
I’d just as soon hide that part of myself from my co-workers than divulge that information, mostly because it’s safer and easier. In this economy, you never know if an employer will cut labor (especially true here in GA), and I don’t think 3 months is enough time to trust your coworkers enough with that information. (I say 3 months because my last 2 jobs laid me off after that time.)
My last job was working in a factory. I had one co-worker out of several hundred that I trusted enough to come out to. I came out to her around the time I came out to my family. She was accepting and proud of me, like I knew she would be. But I still found myself talking in hushed tones to her about it, or pulling her away from other ears, or using gender neutral pronouns just out of habit.
Equality matters to me, but we’re a long way away from the acceptance we deserve. Until then, as a fail safe, I’d just as soon keep my mouth shut.
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