Jun. 29th, 2012

denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
I wanted to specifically post congratulations to Jon "maddog" Hall (executive director of Linux International), who announced this week in his Linux Pro Magazine column, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth, that he is gay. It's humbling to realize that someone who is no more than twice my age was born in a time when such an announcement would have been unthinkable, where today the majority's reaction is usually more along the lines of "oh? Okay then!"

In 2001 or so, I was working for Prudential Insurance & Financial, and the department I worked for had a "lunch and learn" type event to celebrate Pride month -- one of those "have a talk with real live gay people to talk about what it's like being gay" forms of diversity training. It was organized by one of the VPs of the department, a woman about 20 years older than I was who'd been living with her "roommate" for years, and one of the guys in the project management team, a guy about a decade older than me. Both of them were out in the not-really-out-but-not-really-trying-to-hide-it-too-hard kind of way, and that lunch was the first time either of them discussed being queer at work in any way other than to carefully-selected friends.

I'd already been out at work, mostly because I am so very, very, very bad at staying in the closet and tended even then to out myself accidentally all the time. (Bruce Byfield contacted me yesterday for permission to name me in his article on LGBTQ presence in the open source world that stemmed from maddog's announcement, saying he knew some people were out to friends/family but not more publicly. I thanked him for his consideration but reassured him that people on Mars probably know I'm a dyke. *g*) Even so, and even though we were in a room full of other queer people and straight people whose presence at the (voluntary and self-selected) discussion group meant they were pretty far along the path towards ally-hood, I remember how ridiculously hard it was to actually open my mouth in front of a room full of my coworkers and peers and say, yeah, I'm a lesbian. I wouldn't have thought it would be, until I was halfway through a point I was making and realized I was shaking like a leaf.

Today, only a little more than a decade later, I don't have any problem at all calling [personal profile] sarah "my wife" in front of other people -- at work (and it's not just because my 'coworkers' now are people I'm also good friends with), at conferences, during doctor appointments, to people I'm talking with casually. Part of it is definitely because I live in a relatively liberal area of the US -- there are certainly parts of this country I'd be a little more careful and countries where I wouldn't mention it at all, and unfortunately that 'relatively' does still need to be in there because there are still many, many things that Maryland and Marylanders fail at -- and part of it is definitely because I've grown into a lot more confidence as I've gotten older. But a huge, huge part of it is changing societal attitudes and the increasing visibility of queerness.

Things aren't perfect. They aren't going to be perfect for a long time. But they are so, so much better, and every voice standing up to say "I'm so-and-so and I'm gay" helps to turn that tide.

Congratulations on being able to make your announcement, maddog. And thank you for doing it. :)
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