Thursday, September 2, 2010

Coming Out

Guest Blog Post by 'The Cop'

I was invited by BHD to write a guest blog post about my experience as a police officer who happens to be gay, and the processes and trials in coming out.

I write it that way because I am a cop first. Being gay has nothing to do with it. I am a cop. I am gay. So be it.

It was very hard for me to be myself, although I have been a police officer for over 10 years. All of my fellow officers thought, naturally, that I was straight, interested in women, and such. In fact, for some social events, I would invite female friends to go with me as a date. No one thought the wiser ... so I thought.

Then a fellow officer came up to me one day and said, "you're gay, aren't you?" I was shocked. I thought I hid it very well. I never once looked at anyone else on the job, said anything, or posted anything anywhere on the internet.

I gave him my best "cop stare" and asked, "why did you say that?" His response was informative. He simply said, "well, you are a very private guy, but after a few years, you just figure things out. That's okay. I won't 'out' you."

My head was spinning. I was afraid about what other people would say. I had a reputation to uphold. I was in line for a promotion, and I didn't want to jeopardize that.

I went home that night and began searching the internet for information. That's how I stumbled upon BHD's blog. He is respectful to cops and others. I sent him an email, and in that first message, I just asked if he knew any gay cops.

He replied, and said that he doesn't give out other people's information, names, or email addresses. BHD told me later that some people have asked him to connect them with gay cops for liaisons. I wasn't interested in that. I wanted to know others like me who I could talk to.

He referred me to Blue Pride, which is an organization of law enforcement officers who are gay. I joined, and learned a lot. They helped me figure out how to maintain my integrity, and they helped me come to terms with being honest in the workplace. I mean, after all, we enforce the law every day. We demand honesty and integrity in what we do. I felt so torn that by keeping the fact that I was gay to myself (being in the closet) that I was lying to my fellow officers. I thought that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. But then I learned that by hiding my sexual orientation, that a form of distrust was building among fellow officers. More of them had talked about me than I thought.

I communicated with BHD on-and-off for over a year about this. I am still reticent to communicate with others. BUT...

I approached the officer who first asked me about whether I was gay, and asked if we could have coffee after work. We sat down and I told him what was on my mind.

All he said was, "finally, you're being honest with me and with yourself. Don't you feel better?"

I was expecting something else. I don't really know what I was expecting. But I wasn't expecting such a casual response. Like, "no big deal."

I then screwed up my courage and told my boss. Again, her response was pretty much, "so what?" All she was concerned about was that I was doing my job well and working effectively with my fellow officers, the chain of command, and the community.

I realized that much of my concern was self-developed. To the point of keeping me awake many nights, fearing the unknown.

Thanks, BHD, for being such a supportive guy. I appreciate your friendship, your candor, your honesty, and advice. What I appreciate most is that I can say whatever is on my mind, and you don't beat me up for it.

I got that promotion by the way. But have things changed for me at work? Yes-and-no. Some people are more formal, or distant. Maybe I am over sensitive. But most people treat me the same. The expect me to do my job, and after knowing me all these years, they know that they can rely on me to help out and stay focused on our duties.

Now, off to fight the battles of law-and-order, honestly, with integrity.

Note from BHD: this blog post was long in coming. When my friend Kevin wrote me an email where he described coming out to close friends and gave me the okay to post a part of his message, that is what caused the officer whose words are above to send me an email with this guest piece in it. I never really know how my blog posts are received or thought about by others.

I wish my friend well as he continues to serve the public, and be himself. He has asked me not to give out his email address, but if you wish to write, you can write to me and I will forward it to him.

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