Last year the Westpac Rainbow survey showed that Marriage equality had done little to positively change the lot of LGBTIQ (Queer) in the workplace. Well that depends who you talk to of course. By and large the majority of workplaces represent a hetero-normative worldview tightly framed by the dominant gender binary and those voices believe they are the saints that granted the ultimate wish.
I sometimes liken the experience of being chosen to lead a group of heterosexual conservative women to what I imagine a woman in 1970 being selected to lead a group of blokes faced – open hostility, avoidance, red herrings and an attitude of ‘it’s not us, it’s you”. It was the way I dressed, cut my hair, challenged or questioned non-inclusive views, the look on my face and then finally it was my eyebrows.
It was apparent that if I chose to present as femme, wear a dress, heels and make up that the team ‘softened’. I became the recipient of much praise, lauded for my style and fashion sense and for how gorgeous I looked. The trouble with that is it was not how I felt. The very act of appearing like this was an act of manipulation at first amusing and then dishonest. The problem was that if I chose to present my authentic comfortably dressed gender fluid self the team reportedly found my appearance intimidating and uncomfortable.
I think this experience is exactly why many remain ‘closeted’ at work – it’s a massive hurdle to face every working day. The problem is that calling out non-inclusive, homophobic attitudes is rarely led by those who are reaping the privileges associated with fitting a gender binary and what happens instead is that the authenticity of Queer and LGBTIQ workers’identity is sacrificed every day.
The experience has been euphemistically described as a challenging journey, a few months out the other side I’d call that a polite understatement.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”. Carl Jung