I have discussed this on my poly blog (which will one day be migrated to here) before, that it is rare to have a negative experience when I out myself as either poly or queer these days. Now there are many reasons for that, some of which are internal and some external (white, middle class, cis-female, able bodied privilege ahoy). Oh and the fact that I get to choose my audience also plays a large part. It is rare that I am outed and feel that I have to justify myself and my choices – though that happens from time to time.
There is a big difference in power between telling someone something in an environment in which you are comfortable and have an expectation of the reaction and having someone else tell someone with the potential for accusation, interrogation and a negative reaction, not to mention real and actual harm. I don’t go around telling people I know who will react badly because I don’t want to waste the energy on ameliorating that reaction and any relationships that may be impacted. Though sometimes I am tempted to be evil and tell people so they go away and leave me alone – sadly those situations are usually ones where my parents would be impacted instead of me and I don’t think that’s fair on them.
I work for a massive, multinational company which has won awards for it’s diversity policies, and seems to actively work hard on not just having the policies, but making sure that the workplace is safe for the GLBTIQ people who work there. So I feel safe being out because the workplace culture there is one where I can be out and that doesn’t matter. I think this is also helped by my own internal attitude of, “if you have a problem with me (specifically the poly and bisexual me), then that’s your problem and not mine”. That’s how I tend to out myself as well, if it is relevant I just state it like it is, and expect people to keep up (which is somewhat evil of me). I do answer the million and six questions that arise because I consider that fair (especially when I’ve dumped someone in the deep end), but I don’t let it become a big issue – which is part of the choosing the audience thing.
So, after all that brain dump, why this is relevant now – I outed myself at work (again). The reactions were funny (as in LOL funny). The first time I outed myself at work was kinda accidental. I tend to pluralise partner, and most people drop the plural either thinking I did it accidentally or their own hearing filter fails to catch it. One guy caught it and somewhat unprepared (I wasn’t sure how much the policy was put into practice at this point in my time at my company) I explained the poly situation and being bi, and how everything was fine. Everyone quizzed me, and then it was rarely mentioned again. This time, the perfect opportunity was presented to me, most of my team had changed and only two people who were present at the first outing were there, so I told everyone – it makes the pronoun game far less of an issue.
One colleague struggled, more with the concepts of polyamoroy than anything else. They were all curious, but non-judgemental. I was briefly the centre of attention as everyone wanted to know how it worked, how the relationships were structured, how jealousy operated, how we got to this point, etc. Another colleague, one who had been paying attention and whom I’m becoming friends with, had picked up on the different names I regularly referred to and put it all together herself – she wasn’t surprised but was proud that she’d figured it out.
I’m lucky. I’m lucky I’m in a situation where my relationships, queerness, lack of religious belief, and political leanings mean that I am unlikely to lose my job, be shunned, or have my children (if I had any) taken away from me. I’m grateful that I’ve figured out that other people’s issues with me is their issue to deal with and not mine. I’m happy I have the internal fortitude to keep that point of view most of the time.