Interestingly enough, we had five "experienced" employees (ten-plus years with IBM), and four "newbies" (less than five years; with one less than one year). We also had an EAGLE member who is currently working in Singapore attend the meeting!
As it turned out three of the four newer employees now work in an area in which Jay used to work. As several of us shared our coming out, and being out, stories those guys were riveted by Jay's experiences. It was so pertinent to them, because a lot of the same people are still working in their area as when Jay was there.
When Jay told his story about sending an e-mail to the whole department about him being gay, and then just sitting at his desk WAITING, they were practically at the edge of their seat. And then Jay said, "Alex was the first one to come into my office, and he shook my hand, saying, "Thank you for sharing that with us." They were incredulous, "ALEX? ALEX did that?"
Other things shared:
One of the new people is dating the son of an IBMer who works close to his area. He is afraid to come out because he then might get questions about his boyfriend, who he doesn't feel comfortable talking about because it might get back to the boyfriend's father. (The boyfriend is not out to his father.)
This same employee is the one who has only been here a few months. On his second day here, in June, his manager forwarded the management bulletin about it being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in IBM. When he saw it he thought, "Oh shit. I've been here for two days and she already knows." Eventually he realized she'd sent it to the entire department.
The younger folks seemed to, in general, feel that they are able to separate their work life from their personal life. They made statements such that they thought it was something people didn't have to know about them.
A more experienced person talked about how this was the case for him, too, at first, but as the years went on that changed. When you get a partner, for instance, you eventually get tired of denying they exist, or not being able to say simple things like we did such and such over the weekend. He also discussed it affecting his ability to "be all that he could be" here, and since he has come out he is much more confident and energized and has become a recognized leader in his work area.
One of the newer employees asked, "What advantage, really, do you feel being out has?" The IBM Singapore employee shared his perspective of having been an "out" IBM employee here at RTP, and now working in Singapore as a closeted employee. (He did note how glad he was to hear the recent announcement about IBM's global policy on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression!) He related that, for instance, when he travels to Tokyo, and he goes out for dinner with his colleagues and clients, he finds it very awkward to turn down an offer to get him "a woman of the evening" on occasion, or feels like he will be perceived as not being part of the team if he constantly turns down their offers to go out to dinner after work or to celebrate some milestone, just so he won't be put in awkward situations.
All in all, it was a great meeting. The new people learned a lot, and the more experienced people felt like mentors. Win/win!
I got my haircut with Thomas at 4:30. Exchange of the afternoon:
<John> Don't you think it would be a little difficult keeping my hair colored with it this short?
<Thomas> Not for me.
There are two more cats temporarily residing on Azalea Drive. Two foster cats -- one that's very, very, very, very nice and cute.
Robert came over and we had hot dogs, waffle french fries, and broccoli for dinner. We had the best intimate time tonight EVER! One, two, three... MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!