Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

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Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

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Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Women in the Workplace

shutterstock_183577280% of the people I have reported to in the workplace have been women. This includes every position I have had, from my high school jobs to my college internships to my career. Most of my bosses have been women.

I come from a hardworking family with two parents who worked full-time. My mom took her maternity leave to have my sister and I, and then got right back to her job, working as one of the 11% of civil engineers that are women.* And yet, she still managed to have a life AND be involved with the PTA. The women there would give her patronizing remarks when she was unable to make meetings in the middle of the day because of having a career.  “Oh… you have to work?” Really? Not to judge these women, but my mom is a project engineer managing teams across a multinational company with a masters degree from Penn State who also is able to balance being an active mom, so who are they to speak?

All that being said, it’s no surprise that I take pride in the fact that I have mainly reported to women. I have had the opportunity to work for some amazing, powerful women, (and one awful one) and I am very thankful.

My first job, however, I worked for a man. In high school, I worked at a pizza place called Bella Roma, which was/still is owned by a man named Ray. To put it frankly, he was a sexist pig. Only girls were allowed to work behind the counter and wait tables, and only boys were hired to be delivery drivers. He made inappropriate remarks about women who came into his shop. You could see it and hear it in the way he treated and talked to people. Luckily for me, he was only in the restaurant during one of my shifts each week so I didn’t have to deal with anything first hand, but the stories were passed around. He was a douche.

I worked there for a year and then I started my long line of working for women. My hometown job included working for my friends’ mom, and my college campus job had me reporting to one of the female graduate students. It wasn’t until I started my internships that I noticed the amount of women in the workforce around me.

Maybe it’s my industry. I was a Communications major with minors in PR and Professional Writing, and my experience has been in HR, PR and Marketing. I had four internships while I was in college, all of which I reported directly to women. Three of these internships were within small businesses, and, this next part is noteworthy, ALL THREE OF THOSE BUSINESSES WERE OWNED BY WOMEN. These women were boss ladies, bad bitches, and I wanted to be like them. They were rough around the edges, intimidating, hardworking, and determined with something to prove. I was given mentors at these internships as well, also women. I was inspired by the attitude they had and the image of themselves they they projected into the world. Say what you want, but women get shit done, and done well. Today, almost 40% of all businesses are owned and operated by women.*

My first job out of college, I worked for an awful woman named Heather, who was the HR Director for a small manufacturing firm. When I first started, I heard rumors that she wasn’t well liked, but she was so nice to me in the beginning that I figured they were just saying those things because she was a dominant female. As I got to know her more, I realized that she didn’t make a whole lot of sense most of the time. She wasn’t great at managing people. She was no where to be found for 90% of the time, and the other 10% she would micromanage so much that it was hard to do our jobs. One time, she told me that instead of teaching me the new way she wanted things done, she had been giving me a look periodically to see if I could figure out this own my own. Sorry I didn’t pick up on  your telepathic signals, Heather. I could continue on about the strange things she used to do, but my point here is that I didn’t see her as a good boss. She was off-putting and manic and hypocritical and backwards. She didn’t know how to handle people, but then again, neither did most of this organization. I worked there for less than a year before I was begging another company to take me.

After that, I did a complete 180 and started working for a wonderful individual named Cheryl. You can put Cheryl on the top of the boss lady list. Professionally, she helped build a branch from scratch and was running the HR department for her home office and several other offices in the region. Meanwhile, she was dealing with a mother battling cancer, a husband having multiple surgeries on his airwaves, and a daughter in and out of the ER with asthma issues. As if all that wasn’t enough, she also fought against the daily prejudice of having an interracial family (a beautiful one) and fought against stereotypes of women in leadership. I was continuously inspired by her strength and prosperity, and the fact that she was a baller breadwinner for her family. Over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of income in U.S. households.* Cheryl also was a phenomenal manager. She cared about us on both a personal and a professional level, cared about our growth, and cared about us overall being happy. The year she was my boss, she won HR Manager of the year across a national company, and soon after I left the company, she was promoted to Regional Manager. To put it simply, she dominates.

When I interviewed to leave that company, it was with a man named Glenn. Upon accepting the offer, I learned that Glenn is who I would be reporting to. Truly, my immediate thought was, Wow, this is the first time I’ll be reporting to a man since Ray. I wondered if the differences would be noticeable or noteworthy between working for a man versus a woman. I was unsure of how my experience had shaped me or catered to me in my career. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but certainly curious.

However, it was obvious from my interview experience that working for Glenn was going to be a much better situation than the man I worked for when I was 17. True to my expectations, Glenn has been a great leader who is extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher. He’s also managing a team of over 40 individuals while juggling a daughter at home with health issues. I’ve clearly been fortunate to work for several admirable leaders. Lucky for Glenn, we are now adding leadership to our department, and his team of 40+ will be broken up into four teams with four separate leaders. As we make this switch, I will no longer be on Glenn’s team, but will now be reporting to a woman named Michelle.

What I’ve learned about great leaders and managers, is that they are also great people. They are professional and experienced, yet level-headed and caring. They are advisors, mentors and confidants. They multi-task, they prioritize, and they execute. They are the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with. And in my case, they have mostly been women. This should be celebrated! But we have a long way to go.

Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women*, and yet only 15% of executive officers are female.* Not to mention the prevailing wage-gap issue – despite the spotlight that has been put on it, women still make about 78 cents to the man’s dollar.* I won’t even get into the workplace harassment issues that the media has highlighted, but let’s just recognize the amount of mountains that women have to climb.

So I say, keep climbing! Inspire and empower the women around you. Celebrate their successes, and learn from them to create your own. Collaborate. Nominate. Share knowledge and information. Acknowledge accomplishments and milestones. Break boundaries and tear down stereotypes.

I want to thank the women who have inspired me. From my mom, to my previous bosses, to my mentors, to my friends – you all dominate everyday. As leading women in your industries, you are constantly knocking down walls and paving a greater way for the women who come after us. I hope to pass along the gifts that I have been given from you to other strong women with powerful potential.

Who run the world.*

Thanks for reading.

*11% of civil engineers are women, according to bls.gov.

 *30% of all businesses are owned and operated by women, 
over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of 
income in U.S. households, and the pay gap across all 
occupations is 77.5%,  according to resourcefulmanager.com

*Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women and 
15% of executive officers are female, according to americanprogess.com

*Who run the world? Girls. According to Beyoncé.