It has, once again, been a horribly long time since my last post. Part of the reason for that is simply that I’ve been letting life get in the way again, but part of it is because I have been struggling with how to write this next post, what to include, how much to reveal about myself in it, and also just a certain amount of time waiting to see what would happen.
Shortly after my last post, I was outed at work as kinky by a coworker, which is something that I never expected to happen, or that if it did happen, that it would be something of a non-event.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I work in the tech sector. The former is a well known kink haven and the latter is known to be accepting of all sorts of personality quirks.
So, when there was any reaction at all to my lifestyle choices, I was a bit surprised.
I think that was part of the problem – everyone else was surprised as well – and if there is something that people can almost universally be expected to react poorly to, it is surprises that change fundamental assumptions that we make about some person, place, or thing. I should have expected this and prepared for it a bit better. Perhaps I should not have kept things so compartmentalized in my life, but with a few exceptions, I don’t socialize with my coworkers and even when I do, they tend to fall into the category of ‘vanilla friends’ which makes them a bit easier to hold at arm’s length.
So.. when they found out that I have a ‘secret life’… well… I suddenly became a great deal more interesting.
My role is kind of boring. I’m one of the most senior engineers on my team. I’m a mentor and a role model in some ways. I’m not a manager (though I was once.. it turns out that I am a wonderful leader but a terrible manager) but I am very visible and deal with a lot of different people in my role. It’s been interesting to see how people reacted to the news.
My shrew of a boss either still does not know or is refusing to acknowledge the news. If it is the latter, then she is actually probably a better boss than I give her credit for, but the problem is that I’m pretty sure that she is just so clueless and uninformed that she still doesn’t know and whatever consequences are coming from that vector are still waiting in the wings.
But the more interesting reactions are the ones that I am getting from my peers and from the other cross-functional people that I deal with regularly.
I’ve had some interesting questions posed by a few of the more adventurous of my coworkers, but really nothing too extreme. I wasn’t expecting anyone to say anything though, so that’s an interesting bit of information.
The really surprising thing though is the change in the way that people treat me. It’s a subtle thing, and I have to be very careful when I evaluate such things because my own perception can definitely distort things, but there have been some distinct changes in the way that certain individuals interact with me. Some avoid me more, some act like they know a secret about me and that we’re closer as a result (even though I didn’t divulge the secret myself,) and some act very nervous around me now, like they expect me to pull out a flogger and start wailing on them any minute.
I should have been more careful. I had a headshot as my profile photo on Fetlife. That was how they found me. Someone was trolling Fetlife and saw my picture and went apeshit.
Of course, this means that the person who found me out has to have a Fetlife account as well. I somewhat naively thought that would be some protection – after all, anyone who saw my photo on Fetlife would have to have an account themselves, and would presumably be somewhat discreet as a result, but alas, the world is a bit more complex than such naive assumptions. It turns out that no one cares how I was found out, only that I was… I should have predicted that.
Ultimately, I still don’t know the full impact of the news on my career and work relationships – some of this is still evolving. I’m rarely the object of discrimination, so this has been a new experience for me in some ways. I’ll be sure to post a follow up in a couple of months when the full impact of things is more clear to me, but one thing is absolutely certain. I’m never more sure of my privilege in being born a white male in America as I am now.
Yours in thought,
As a postscript and a side-note… I’ve received a few emails lately asking why I don’t allow comments on my posts. I actually do, and always have, but I set things such that posts older than two weeks old could not be commented on in an effort to avoid necroposting, but since some of my posts are being referenced on other sites now and at the request of those who emailed me, I’ve removed that restriction and you should be able to comment on any post I’ve written.
Posts are still moderated and go through a spam filter, but once you have a post approved, subsequent posts should automatically be approved for you. Please do not abuse this .