I’m very grateful to work with C’s family, there is no issue of my sexuality (Well I am married to their daughter) and I haven’t got to worry about homophobia in the workplace. Many people who identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual are still faced with awful levels of homophobia whilst at work, so Stonewall have launched a new campaign to help eradicate homophobia in the workplace. This campaign involves the sharing of images across buses, tubes and advertising boards that highlight an image of someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual with the call to action, that if that bothers you, they still have work to do.
Almost every job I have had since I came out has been accepting of my sexuality. I never hid my relationships and often found myself talking about my girlfriends and when I married, my wife, as soon as people attempted to get to know me. There was no big coming out plan on my part, my life is as normal as your life is to you, so for me talking about those in my life is as casual as anything. It came as a surprise to some at times and often a smile spread across peoples faces as they shared stories of their loved ones.
But sadly I have encountered homophobia in a workplace, but I had a lucky escape. During a time in my life when I lived a long distance from family and friends, I applied for a job at a little shop to help me earn some money after a long spell without a job. The interview went really well, so well in fact that they started listing hours I’d work and where I could park, before the interview had even finished. The started to wrap up the interview with a “we’ll see you soon and call you with your start date”. I was so happy and already thinking about the call I was going to make to my mum to tell her I finally had a job. But one last question was coming, they knew I wasn’t local because of my accent and were obviously curious what had brought me a long way from home, “So, just out of curiosity, what brings you to this part of the UK?” I smiled as I gathered my bag together “I moved here to live with my girlfriend and her children”. As soon as the words left my mouth I was aware this wasn’t what they were expecting to hear. One shifted uncomfortably in her seat, whilst the other started muttering that they had other interviews lined up and would have to let me know if I was successful.
My heart dropped as I walked out the room confused, the interview had gone so well. They didn’t even get up to show me out the room, let alone the store. I walked out the store and was suddenly overcome with emotion, they had loved me, they wanted me to start as soon as possible, but as soon as they discovered I had a girlfriend they couldn’t wait for me to leave the room. I convinced myself I was imagining their frosty behaviour. I walked over to the store where my girlfriend worked where she excitedly asked how it went. They seemed to love me I said, until I told them I’d moved to be here with you. She was just as shocked as I was, but reassured me that they still may call.
Several days later they called, the way they spoke to me was far from the friendly ladies I had been interviewed by. “The position has been filled by someone more qualified”. I was gutted, I needed that job and was angry with myself. But not because I felt I shouldn’t have said anything about my girlfriend, I was angry because I didn’t challenge their change in tone, I was angry that I didn’t question their behavior. I just let them tell me I wasn’t good enough for the job and hung up.
My girlfriend had contacts on the shopping complex who confirmed what I thought, they hadn’t filled the position and the vacancy remained open for about 6 months before they filled it. I used to tell myself their loss, but what I tell myself now is my luck. Why should I be angry I didn’t get a job somewhere people couldn’t stand to be in a room with me because of who I love.
There is still work to do, behavior to be challenged. Love is love, it doesn’t effect the way I serve a customer or stack a shelf.