Monday, May 18, 2009

Coming Out




My nephew recently was informed by his 16 year old niece that she was gay. This information stunned and shocked him. Of course the first thing he thought was "What did I do wrong?" That's what all parents think when they are faced with the knowledge that one of their children is gay. My Mother has the same reaction when I came out to her in April of 1963. Her first words were "What did I do wrong." I told her "You didn't do anything wrong, this is who I am. I've always been this way as long as I can remember." I realize that this is a lot of information for any parent to process. But it is a fact of life that is becoming more prevelant these days as more and more young people refuse to live their life as a lie and are coming out to their parents, relatives and friends.

Since my grand niece told me that she had informed her father she was gay, I've been debating if and how I should post this information to my blog. I have decided to post this information but I will withhold their names out of respect for their privacy. Anyone who knows me personally, knows who I am talking about. I only have one nephew (I have four nieces.) He has two daughters and is a wonderful father to both of them. He is divorced from his daughter's mother and know lives with his second wife and her teen aged son. Both of his daughters (my nieces) live with his former wife. He has an amicable relationship with his former wife and sees his daughters frequently. They both adore him and I can understand why. My nephew is a smart, funny, laid back kind of guy who is strong yet gentle. All the attributes that anyone could want in a dad or a nephew. He's also a pretty good looking guy too but that's no surprise, he has the family gene.

Below is my response to him after I read his comment this morning on Facebook that said "I'm going back to work today. I hope there are no more surprises."


(Nephew),

I think you got hit by the Big One. You shouldn't get any more surprises unless you got one like I got back in 1998. My boss at (bank) called me in. I thought I was getting a raise because I was doing such a great job (which I was by the way). Oh no, he gave me a written warning for POOR JOB PERFORMANCE. Talk about a shocker. Of course I eventually got fired.

It wasn't until two years later I found out he was a homophobe and he had a track record of manufacturing "evidence" to fire gays like me who were out. How did I know? I found out quite by accident when I was talking to a co-worker at (bank) a couple years later who worked for him in Philadelphia. He also fired her because she was gay. Made up evidence of course. He got away with it both times. She told me he had fired three other guys who he knew were gay. They eventually got rid of him at (bank).

When I was fired I told Bill that he wouldn't last long at (bank) because they knew what he was doing. He didn't last. He was gone in less than a year. The president of the bank told me that he liked me but had to end the "conflict" between me and my boss and that's why he "terminated my employment" as he put it.

I had heard of gays being fired from their jobs just because they were gay but I didn't believe it could happen that easily. Especially, since I had done such an outstanding job of bringing the trust operations department back under control. But it happens (nephew). Imagine my surprise when I was talking to Terry D. (who used to work for him at (bank) in Philadelphia) and when I told her I used to work at (bank) for Bill E. she said "Oh him, he's a homophobe who fires gays." Now, she didn't know I was gay and I didn't know she was gay. I asked her how did she know that and she said "I'm gay and he fired me by manufacturing evidence that I was performing my job poorly. He's very clever how he goes about it but he does fire any gays who he finds out that are working for him." That's when I told her what happened to me. She then told me of three other instances she knew of that this guy fired gays. She said (bank) eventually got rid of him because they were afraid they were going to be sued. I tried to sue (took it all the way to the Human Relations Commission in Philadelphia for a hearing) but lost because I couldn’t produce any witnesses to his homophobia towards me.

Now I'm realistic enough to know that most straight people don't care about gays being fired just because they are gay but it is a life changing event if it happens to you. I prefer not to live my life as a lie and this is the risk that I take. I now work for an gay man at my present part-time job. I didn't know he was gay when he hired me, and I seriously doubt if my sexual orientation didn't have anything to do with why he hired me. We both just happened to be gay which we discovered through the course of several casual conversations over the next few months after I was hired. Neither one of us hides the fact that we are gay but we don't walk around with a sign on our necks saying we're gay either. But, I don't have to worry about being fired for being just who I am. I don't have to lie to keep my job.

Thought you would be interested in the greatest shock I ever had in my life. I hope I don't have any more like that just as I hope you don't have any more shocks. At least this year anyway.

Have a great day!

Uncle Ronnie

1 comment:

  1. My life has turned out better anyway. The homophobe actually did me a favor by getting me fired. If not, I would probably still be working in PA and paying all those taxes. Now I'm enjoying the good life in Delaware in a beautiful home. Maybe there is a God and he/she does have a grand plan. Thank you!

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