Coming out again and again

Gay couple Stuart and Mike talk about assumptions made by colleagues in the workplace, and how coming out is an ongoing process rather than a one-time deal.

Duration 02:16

Photograph on Stories page by RCB.


MIKE: I mean, you sort of encounter it in the workplace where people, there are – people just assume, people assume you’re straight. People make loads of assumptions based on just how you look and they’ll... It’s one of the worst things about… my least, the least favourite things about sort of... go – you know, being on placement. I work in a – sort of healthcare, cos I’m studying physiotherapy, so… but, working in a sort of, you know, practice and people are coming talking to you and they’ll automatically start talking to you about girls you’re dating and things you’re doing and -

STUART: Yeah. People will see your wedding ring and ask you how your wife is, or – they’ll just… and then it feels very awkward to then correct them. Even though I think that correction’s quite important, I think I shy away from that. [Pause.]

MIKE: Yeah. I think like –

STUART: I think, because of my... perceptions of how they might react to me telling actually. And it, it feels like you’re having to keep coming out, again and again and again.

MIKE: Yep. So it’s not, not necessarily like overt, overt homophobia; it’s more like just assumption that you’re straight… And it’s tiring, it’s quite tiring, and it’s... I was gonna say it’s almost – you almost feel embarrassed about it, which is ridiculous, but then maybe that just says… I suppose that’s kind of like a relic from when you felt like it was something to feel maybe ashamed of. But, there is that moment where you sort of think, ‘Should I, shouldn’t I, say something?’ And, I do try and come – I do try always – always trying out to – if they say that, to correct them, because there’s been times in the past I haven’t, and then you might see them again and again and again, and they’re still asking about things, and… [sigh] you either just change the subject or you actually start, actually start acting in line, which is, just… ridiculous.

STUART: Or start – I know in the past I’ve used, like, generic words, like ‘they’ or... or just haven’t used any…

MIKE: Yep. Yeah. Non-gender-specific…

STUART: Non-gender specific terms, which is again, awful, cos it just reinforces that, but... I think again, it’s about – when you’re, when you grow up for such a long time feeling… different, and…

MIKE: Like you’ve got something to hide or, or be ashamed of…

STUART: Something you need to be – you need to hide. It’s, even, I came out when I was 18, so 14 years ago, and I’ve still struggled to change that really.

MIKE: Yeah.