denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote2012-06-29 10:30 am

we've come a long way, baby

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. :)
tesserae: white poppies in the sun (Default)

[personal profile] tesserae 2012-06-29 04:11 pm (UTC)(link)
It's remarkable to see how far the world has come. I'm part of that 20 years older than you generation and my closest friends are +/- 55 now - for us, closets are part of living memory, as is the "out but not talking about it to anyone who doesn't already know" variation. And I remember being in a diversity seminar 20 years ago when the (exclusively) straight men who worked in the mechanical arts department protested fiercely that the seminar was being taught by an out lesbian and therefore they certainly couldn't be expected to actually listen to her...

Things have changed. THings need to keep changing. But wow, yes, it is a different world.
arie: (Default)

[personal profile] arie 2012-06-29 04:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Wait. You're a lesbian?!

;) <3
arie: (Default)

[personal profile] arie 2012-06-29 04:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I have no memory of those events. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

[personal profile] desh 2012-06-29 07:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm sure no one else does either.
dine: (rainbow terror -dreamtrance)

[personal profile] dine 2012-06-29 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm about 8 years younger than maddog, and remember well how the closet affected daily life for most people - though I was out to coworkers (by accidentally outing myself) by 23, and to most friends and some family by that point as well, being cautious just made sense given societal conditions.

I'm so damn glad that things have moved on to a place where "oh? Okay then!" can be the expected reaction, instead of being exceptional. it's been a v. v. interesting lifetime, and I'm eager to see what happens next.

gwendraith: please don't take (mother and sons)

[personal profile] gwendraith 2012-06-29 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
We have (thankfully) come a long way. When my younger son told me he was gay in 1999 I was concerned, not because it mattered to me what his sexuality was but because I was worried that life might be difficult for him. I needn't have worried because he's never had a moment's problem in 12 years and he's been married for 5 years now to a really great bloke. So, both my sons are happy, one straight and one gay and both with really great partners :)
tinyjo: (Default)

[personal profile] tinyjo 2012-06-29 10:57 pm (UTC)(link)
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

I resemble this remark :) Never catches up with me emotionally during the conversation, just after! I do love living in a time where this is totally not a problem for me - just so lucky in so many ways.
pineapplechild: HELLO!, says the giant squid, wait why are you running away (Default)

[personal profile] pineapplechild 2012-06-30 04:27 am (UTC)(link)
I'm in a new job, and said new job has a very public, company-backed LGBT group. Said company has a very good company line towards us queers, and I've been looking into aforementioned group with interest. (... partially because I'm single once more.)
The thing is, said group mainly organizes through our company intranet/facebook clone, and I'm finding it incredibly hard to actually hit that "follow" button, as my followed groups are visible on my profile. And it's not like I'm particularly in the closet, and I'm in my twenties. So, yeah. It is hard to purposely out yourself. I'm hoping that after I've been there a bit longer I can screw my courage to the sticking place and hit that damn follow button, and maybe even go to some of the events.
stormerider: (Default)

[personal profile] stormerider 2012-06-30 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
That's really awesome; maddog is one of the top Lts. of the Linux community and him going public like that will definitely make an impact. I remember when I heard about Eric Stallman and it was still a big deal back in the late 90s. Yeah, we definitely have a long way to go-- the whole marriage issue in the US proves that-- but it's nice to look back and see how far we've come sometimes, too.
pauamma: Cartooney crab holding drink (Default)

[personal profile] pauamma 2012-06-30 11:29 am (UTC)(link)
I think you mean Eric Allman. :-)
stormerider: (Default)

[personal profile] stormerider 2012-06-30 11:57 am (UTC)(link)
Errrr, yes *sheepish* I don't want to offend Eric by comparing him to Stallman :P
pauamma: Cartooney crab holding drink (Default)

[personal profile] pauamma 2012-06-30 12:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Also, I somehow don't see KMcK and RMS living as partners for 30 years, for a number of reasons. :-)