By: Justin Porter
To begin, I will set the stage: following my undergraduate graduation, I accepted a job offer with a large organization. Prior to starting my job, I had heard horror stories of what it would be like to be a gay man and be “out” in the workplace; some work environments are on the conservative spectrum of social issues. My biggest fear after graduating was not how to get a job but wondering if I would feel comfortable at my job.
While at the organization, I never told a single coworker I was gay because I was afraid of any judgment, and that my privacy would be exposed. For some time, I remember going to work and thinking, “just keep your head down, Justin, and soon it will get better.”
A year later, an opportunity presented itself at Deloitte. I had told myself that once I was able to find a new position, I would start living my true life in the workplace. Soon after starting at Deloitte, I began to tell coworkers about my all-gay kickball team that is like a second family to me. Eventually, I opened up about my life outside of work in more detail, specifically about my partner.
My partner Ivan and I have been together for a little over a year and a half now. Last March, Ivan had to undergo surgery to fix a birth defect. I remember coming to work the day of the surgery; since I wasn’t family I wasn’t allowed in the operating room. I decided that if I went to work, I’d be able to take my mind off Ivan until the day was complete. My boss, Jerry Johnston, and I talked about Ivan and Jerry immediately asked details about the surgery – if Ivan was ok, and if he would be able to help in any way. I remember saying everything was fine and that I would be able to see Ivan soon. Jerry provided concern, empathy, and kindness, and although small, this act allowed me to see the true colors of professionals at this organization. Jerry’s act of kindness will always stay with me.