A few days ago, I had dinner with a coworker from my last job. While I was transitioning at my previous job, I did not come out while working there, so she was unaware of my transition when she invited me to dinner. In order to avoid any surprises, I always come out prior to any in-person meeting. It seems like the safest bet, I avoid surprising them in person and give them a chance to cancel if they have a problem. In fact, I expected my coworker to cancel after I came out to her. When I worked with her, She was fairly open regarding her discomfort with LGBT people. Despite this, she still wanted to meet up for dinner, so I went.
In general, the dinner went well. My coworker behaved similarly to other people I have come out to and avoided acknowledging my transition. She went out of her way to avoid gendering or naming me for most of the evening. She was clearly a little uncomfortable the entire time and generally didn’t seem to know how to act. She wasn’t rude or insensitive, she just seemed anxious and incredibly concerned about offending me.
It seemed like we would go the entire meal without any acknowledgment of my transition, however, she eventually brought it up. Towards the end of the meal, she suddenly asked what my parents thought of my transition. I was completely honest and told her that my parents were fine with it and hadn’t been surprised by my coming out. She struggled with this answer, in a way I wasn’t prepared for. She didn’t understand how my parents could have been accepting of my transition. I understood that this was more about her and her children than me, but it was still awkward. I just didn’t know how to respond.
While it was a nice dinner and I enjoyed catching up with my coworker, it was uncomfortable being treated so strangely. I have been out for almost 9 months now and while things were awkward at first, everything has returned to some sort of normalcy. People treat me like a person and not like an oddity, which is pretty nice. Even the people I have come out to more recently have been better about it, not acting too odd the first time we met. This dinner with my old coworker was very reminiscent of when I first came out, a conversation spent awkwardly dancing around my transition, only to suddenly bring it up in the worst way possible. Frankly, I don’t miss it.