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Bi, Coworker!

, , , , | Working | November 10, 2020

For context, I am a bisexual woman. I was out to my previous coworkers, but as retail is wont to do, pretty much every other employee has been replaced due to transfers or promotions or general turnover. My newer coworkers are a mixed bag; I’m out to some but not to others.

I am working with a coworker whom I am not out to; I have been warned by another coworker that this coworker is rather bigoted. As I haven’t witnessed this myself, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt… until this happens.

We are working together after hours for the first time on a normal weekly project I usually do alone.

Coworker: “Hey, do you mind if I play some music? I work better with something going on.”

Me: “Sure thing! I work better with music, too, and I’m not picky about what you play.”

Coworker: “Even if it’s Disney music?”

Me: “Are you kidding? I know the words to pretty much every song from every movie!”

We work and talk about our favorite songs from each movie as the relevant songs come up, including a lengthy discussion about the coworker’s favorite movie and how much she loves it because the family in it is almost identical to hers. I start to think that maybe I’ve been misled about this coworker…

A song from a snow-themed movie comes on and we both belt the words while we work.

Coworker: *After the song ends* “Did you know that the actor that played [Character] is gay?”

Me: “Really?”

I open my mouth to say, “That’s awesome!” but she cuts me off.

Coworker: “I think it’s so stupid how gay people push so hard to have gay stuff in all these movies and TV shows. Nobody wants to see that!”

I am stunned speechless. Her voice sounds absolutely infuriated and she is turning red in the face with anger. I miss half her rant because I start drafting a text to our boss as I’m getting a little worried for my safety.

Coworker: “I mean, what does it matter? Why do they want to ruin everything by being in it?”

When I speak next, it’s in a tone one would talk to a child with.

Me: “You know, I can’t speak for everyone, but I bet it’s nice to look at a TV or a big screen and see someone just like you. You love [Movie] because the family is just like yours, right? I’m sure gay people just would like to watch something they love and see someone like themselves and their families, too.”

She didn’t have anything to say to that. Our (lesbian) boss never scheduled us together after hours again, and I never told the bigoted coworker that I wasn’t straight until long after we’d both left that company.