I’ve never been to a conference with such strong undertones of camaraderie as Out on Bay Street’s 10th annual celebration this past weekend. While we were all there to network as professionals, there was an aire of understanding that we were all held together by one common marginalized element – our queerness. During conversations about careers in finance, there was an underlying comfort in knowing it was a safe space – whether this was true was another thing – I can only describe the honesty and authenticity of everyone there as palpable.
On the first night there, I’d attended a women’s speaker event on gender equality. Strangely enough, I’d had a dream last week and in the murkiness of it all, I could only remember a brunette, who I wrote off as a side character – an extra – in my dream. It wasn’t until she took the podium at this conference that I realized that it was a member of OOBS. I’d spoken to her briefly at a women’s speaker event in August and hadn’t thought twice about anything. I should’ve talked to her at the conference but I procrastinated until it was too late.
Life happens without you when you hesitate.
Anywho, at the same event that she had led, I’d unknowingly chatted with the President of OOBS. He came by after giving a grand closing speech to let my friends and I know that the OOBS lesbians were going to Crews and that we should join them – an extremely kind gesture. After much hesitation, we decided to go.
Funnily enough, I ended up bumping into the French illustrator while in line for Crews. I dragged her by her (gay) jean overalls and we decided to meet up at Crews (as she went to grab her bag from a friend’s place).
She has a knack for showing up in my life after 1am when I’m unknowingly emotionally constipated and direly in need of a rant. She’s my Fairy Gay Mother. We vented and ranted and I told her the story of Maryia. Oh, right:
Maryia’s an incredibly cute blonde chick who I danced with a few weeks ago at Cream – a queer lady dance party. We left without getting each others’ numbers, but my friend ended up matching with her on Her, a lesbian dating app. Learning about this, I broke my (non)vow and re-downloaded the app.
I spent three two hours trying to find this girl.
But I did, and I messaged her, chatting back and forth and leaving her my number.
She ended up asking me out to dance at Yes Yes Y’all and I reluctantly did, after the conference’s first night. After getting preoccupied with chatting with my friend at my place as we pre-drank, she called me on my phone as I’d stopped responding to her texts. I froze… but it was a guy on the other end. It was her friend. He was calling me from her phone, which I found this incredibly endearing because it indicated she was shy.
The whole thing quickly went to shit when got there and found out one of her friends was her ex, and that she was actually emotionally unavailable. She was so distant and depressed that she couldn’t even dance.
It was maddening. It was saddening. I felt sad that she felt sad. How fucking ridiculous is that? How do you turn this empathy off. My empathy is broken. She’s practically a stranger, I should’ve detached completely when I had the chance.
Anyhow, against the advice of my friend, I texted her asking if she was ok. We cleared up the air, and I’m glad we did because there was a chance we’d see each other again, given how small the queer women circle is in Toronto.
Anyways, that’s my update – very fruitful in terms of my career, but absolutely devastating in my personal life. C’est la vie. C’est ma vie.
None of this was supposed to happen.
True to my selfish nature and obsession with my career, my plan was to eat, live, and breathe big data this summer. My social life (friends and relationships alike) was to be put on the back burner and I was supposed to spend every waking moment working towards the six-figure* job guaranteed at the end of this summer course.
* The Program Director anecdotally said salaries of previous graduates started at $85,000 and moved up to $115,000. I’m busting my ass for these numbers.
I wasn’t supposed to be doing stupid shit like coming out to my mother or spending an entire weekend physically, mentally, and emotionally hungover. Every day counts when it’s a fast-track intensive program that has you in class five days a week, seven hours a day.
I overthink things. I overthink everything. In particular, I overthink social events, which is exactly why I shouldn’t be doing anything social because knowing myself, it’s hard for me to get my mind off anything after getting home. I overthink what people did, what people said, how the group dynamic was (WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME), what I should’ve done, what I didn’t do well, what I could’ve done better, the list goes on (who the fuck does thisss). My mind is usually scrambled with such random, absolutely inane thoughts that bar me from doing anything mentally strenuous… like studying for midterms.
Going into the program and knowing myself, I’d half-assedly told myself to avoid social activities and being social. “How hard could it be to avoid people?“, I’d thought. Jesus fucking Christ. It’s like everyone was right and I’ve been lying all this time about being an introvert.
So because I’ve been failing to stay antisocial, I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and writing them out has been cathartic. Being around people plants seeds in my head <ramble> probably because they’re so unpredictable while if I’m left alone, I can essentially predict everything… and learn nothing </ramble> that later manifest, when I least expect, into the most complex and beautiful-but-sometimes-ugly flowers. I’ve been pressured by the urgency of new ideas popping up at the most random of times, which explains why I clearly haven’t been sticking to my one-post-per-Sunday rule.
A good friend of mine tells me I’m using this program as a scapegoat to escape my feelings and my sexuality. She’s not 100% right (I have my eyes on that six-figure salary), but she’s not wrong. It’s a fantastic excuse to not get into a relationship, or pursue a romantic interest. It’s a fantastic defense mechanism to not develop and explore feelings – they’ve been dormant for 24 years (minus the early straight girl crushes and other fuck-ups) – shut it down while they’re still undeveloped! Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to someone! You can’t trust them! You can’t trust anyone! They probably won’t even like you once you let them get too close! Why risk it all? Focus on your career! You’re doing amazing, anyway!
I don’t know. I’m sure I’ve made some breakthroughs with this post but overall it’s gone nowhere. 9/10 would write again. I hate everything.
Just over a year ago, I was headhunted by a search agency. I met with the recruiter at her office and she left the room for me to fill out my professional profile to keep in their records.
Right after “Ethnicity”, “Sexual Orientation” came up and I froze for a long time (this was before I’d come out). My head buzzed with indecision – I was well aware large corporations tended to lean towards hiring minorities at the behest of HR prodding them with shiny Corporate Social Responsibility badges.
But I hastily checked off “straight”.
Fast-forward to tonight (and the reason for this emergency post). I was speeding through an online registration form for Out on Bay Street – basically on auto-pilot – and before it even registered in my brain:
This is a fucking milestone.
It doesn’t look like a lot, but in contrast to a year ago (and on auto-pilot, too!), this is progress. This is pride.
I knew almost immediately what I was going to say. When it came to my turn, I looked around my circle of highschool friends who had united for New Year’s Eve. “My highlight of 2015 is… coming out.”
Some knew. Only a few didn’t.
“You-.. You were coming out!? You came out!?” the straight boy beside me blurted out. “Then why did I sit myself here!?”
There was little hesitation that that was the highlight of my 2015. It opened the floodgates to a lot of critical self-evaluation and understanding, which ultimately explained why I acted a certain way and had built walls where there shouldn’t be.
Because of that, I grew a lot in 2015. I feel like it was the year I recalibrated to the world with my “new” identity – I reevaluated where and how I fit, my social groups, and what I wanted in life. Most importantly, I feel I had less to hide, and this ultimately gave me more confidence. I no longer had to be scared that “someone would get too close” and “find out”. And I wasn’t just scared of them knowing the truth – I was equally, if not more, scared of having to confront the truth about myself with them.
In 2015 I also:
- Traveled alone and visited New York city, both for the first time.
- Had our first family vacation in a long time to LA.
- Went on a legitimate date (although it didn’t end well! It made for a good story.)
- Went to an LGBT professional networking event.
Coming out and all its consequential experiences overshadowed any vacation I took. Not much progress was made with my career, and understandably so – I essentially put my career (and everything else) on hold this year to deal with coming out. No regrets.
So what does 2016 hold in store for me?
A few posts back, I blogged about an event that I wanted to attend held by Out on Bay Street. It would’ve been the first event in my professional life to overlap with my personal… but I pussied out and took the first lame excuse I could think of (“I’m tired”).
A second chance came and running off the regret of not going to the last, I promised myself I’d go. Up til the last minute I was worried I’d end up passing on it again. But this time I had someone to hold me accountable – the same one who introduced me to the organization the first time, and a highschool friend to whom I came out this summer.
Unlike the one I pussied out on, which was a women’s speaker series, this was open to all LGBT professionals. And being a networking event, I can’t say I was surprised that it was a SAUSAGE FEST.
But interestingly, 5 seconds in, I bumped into someone from a nonprofit I’m with. We had a good alcohol-infused chat after I corrected his thinking I was an ally. It was lovely.
It got a bit awkward at times as the number of gay men was overwhelming, but my highschool friend let me cling onto him for dear life and he introduced me to his gay crew. I actually had a ton of fun, which I didn’t expect. One of his darling friends was relentlessly trying to set me up with his roommate (who wasn’t able to make it out).
I’ll be sure to keep my calendar synced with Out On Bay Street’s events. I’d also like to meet more women next time (/obviously). But at least I can close 2015 having gone to an LGBT event (and a networking one nonetheless!).
There’s a strong sense of security that comes with having a job. I’m not talking financial – that’s a given. A 9-5 (or whenever you end) job anchors you to a period of time each day, five times a week, where you are being productive and you are occupied. It’s routine, it’s secure, and it’s the source of livelihood for the lucky.
Which is why I’m terrified of quitting.
I won’t go into the reasons for quitting here, but I wanted to articulate (for myself) my thoughts about the best time to quit. For me, I’m debating one of two things:
- Quit with no job lined up – I`m quitting so I can have the time to figure out what I want to do, instead of jumping at the first opportunity.
- Quit when I have a job lined up.
I was very ready to jump at number one. The first day I went into work after a night of deliberating my future and deciding to quit, I walked around with the lightest step I`d had in a very long time. I was excited at the prospect of being unemployed – I’m financially stable and have enough saved up to be okay and independent. When would I get another chance at that?
Number two, on the other hand, I’m almost afraid to admit, but it stems from a deep sense of insecurity; am I quitting with no job lined up because I can’t get a job? Do I need to prove to my peers and family that I am a wanted and employable professional?