After lots of smaller steps, I brought my partner to my company's end-of-year event and introduced her as such. The LGBT network met up and had drinks beforehand which was a good way to get started, and then we spent the evening mingling. There are a lot of people in my company so it was a gradual coming out over the course of the evening to the various people I've worked with.
It went really well! There were no big reactions and only one person asked anything intrusive (and it was well-meaning so I didn't really mind). It's possible some people didn't get that we were a couple but I'm sure most people did. It was great to be able to share my working environment with my girlfriend who had heard about some of these people before, and she enjoyed herself too.
As well as being a goal-ticker for me, this was also a big deal for our relationship, because while we've been together a long time I've never felt up to including her in this part of my life before.
This isn't exactly complete - there are several people I didn't get to see, and I will always have to keep coming out to new people I work with - but this has set a massive precedent and has changed how 'out' I consider myself to be at work - so I'm marking it as done.
Not work-related, but then it’s all related…
I went to a meditation hosted by an acquaintance from school whose friend occasionally guides casual sessions. One of the exercises yesterday was to visualise our lives in ten years’ time and to ask what our future self would tell our present self.
My future self told me to live openly and be out, and not make excuses for why I can be in the closet in parts of my life if it’s a little easier, because if I ever have a child (which was part of what I saw in my future) I want that child to be proud of its family, so I have to be too.
Then we were asked to share what our future self told us. Even though the class were mostly hippy types who I doubted would be homophobic, I still got nervous before coming out to this group of strangers by sharing. I think a big part of it was that I feel more comfortable and safer by coming out the casual ‘mention my partner when it comes up’ way (which is more equivalent to how straight people effectively come out), and this forced me to come out the more personal kind of ‘I am gay and this difference to you affects my life’ way. That’s the difference between how I want to be out at work and most parts of my life (the former) and how I can be out in really personal situations only (the latter).
The great irony of course was that sharing contributed to my goal.
My company's LGBT network had a combined drinks event with a broader social club. This was such an easy way to come out - people were somewhat prepared and I could easily explain to those who didn't know me from the social club that I was from the LGBT network (unfortunately I was one of very few but I think the event was still a success). I met someone from my project there who I'm now out to, and who even wants to be an ally which is great. I'm also now out to a friend of his, a new contact, and two younger people in my company, one I used to 'buddy' and one I have a mutual friend with outside of work. Plus I got to spend time with a couple of people in the LGBT network (one gay, one ally) who I hadn't spoken to much before.
Gearing up for major progress. I asked my girlfriend to attend the end of year work event with me in a couple of months’ time. She is happy to. We have set up a pre-drinks for the LGBT network which will help partners get to know others at the event and means a lot of us can get there together, which may make us more comfortable. This is a big deal and I’m a bit nervous, but it might just end up being great.
Answering honestly! I’m on a new project now and getting to know people slowly. I was at lunch with a group of people and some of the women were complaining about their partners spending too much time on a sports betting site. As we were heading out one of them (who’s particularly friendly) asked me whether I have a boyfriend, and I said I have a girlfriend. It’s that simple sometimes. She asked how long we’d been together and whether her friends who got married in Melbourne would have had to travel to get legally married, and joked that I wouldn’t have to worry about the sports betting site (which I had in fact never heard of). It’s likely that at least one other person heard us. That went well, as a start… much better than on my first project many years ago when I was asked if I was seeing someone and followed my then first instinct, to say no (a lie).
-My girlfriend and I are doing a run for charity and have a shared fundraising page which I've sent to many colleagues to get donations. It's certainly not explicit that we're partners but I feel a tiny bit more out for that.
-I shared the aforementioned coming out newsletter with my career counselor. Figured it was good for him to see something I've been involved with, and it has outed me to him.
Today I was interviewed in my company's LGBT newsletter. It is only emailed to our network and straight/HR allies but it's something - and with things like this they could get forwarded and who knows to whom I'll end up being out. I'm really happy with the content and have already gotten some positive feedback from a HR person I know.
Last night I randomly ended up spending the evening socializing with a few women I'd met at work social events. It came up to mention my girlfriend when I was asked whether I'd been to a particular restaurant for a special occasion (her birthday). Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether people get that I don't mean a girl who is my friend, but at the end of the night I shared a taxi with one of them, to whom I'm now definitely out.
Progress: I casually came out to someone on my new project today, with whom I work very closely. We have a good relationship and I mentioned that I would be leaving at a reasonable hour on Tuesday (Valentine's Day) because my girlfriend and I have plans. He just said, 'well there you go' and later said we should make sure my calendar for that whole afternoon is free. It felt good! Hopefully I'll get further out later on.