30 November, 2012

Coming Out

OPINION
Hi, I've been a part-time nanny for the last 6 years, and am now transitioning into my first full-time (live-out) position. I am gay, and I live with my girlfriend. I've just started, so I don't know the family very well, although we definitely clicked during the interview process, and the first two weeks have been great. Very little about my personal life has come up, though, so my new employers don't know about my orientation, and I know very little about their political/religious leanings. My first job came through a personal connection, and subsequent jobs were all by recommendation/word-of-mouth, so I've never been in a position like this before. If I had thought about it sooner, I probably would've just discussed it in the initial interview and moved on if the family reacted badly.

Since I've already been hired and started working, though, I'd love to hear what other nannies think is appropriate. Should I "come out" to MB/DB? Should I avoid all references to my girlfriend, etc? Should I just let that information come out naturally at some point and treat it like it's not a big deal? Personally, I think it shouldn't make a difference, but I know there are families who would definitely care. Is sexual orientation something an employer should reasonably expect to be informed about ahead of time? Are there any other gay nannies who can weigh in with their experience? Thanks! - Anonymous

19 comments:

NannyKate said...

I agree that it shouldn't matter. As far as "coming out" goes, if you want to inform them of your orientation and feel comfortable doing so, be all means go for it, but you definitely should not feel obligated to do so. I don't think an employer should expect to be informed of their nannies orientation, in every position I have held, I have never been asked during an interview nor did I feel like I had the obligation to inform them of my orientation. This is an aspect of your life that has absolutely zero effect on your ability to care for their child. I believe the only details of personal life that nannies should feel an obligation to reveal are the aspects of their life that has a direct effect on their ability to care for the child. So my advise would be to tell them if you feel comfortable and simply want them to know, if not I would just preform your job as normal and allow it to come out naturally if it does at all, but once again, your orientation or other personal aspects of your life is not " must know" information for employers.

NYC sitter said...

Dear OP,

In my opinion, this is none of their business and I personally believe that your sexual orientation should not be something that has to be told during the hiring process. Imagine you weren't gay- would you feel "bad" for not having told the parents during your interview that you lived with your boyfriend? To me, sexual orientation is truly irrelevant in this case. In addition I am sure that if you, as you told us, clicked with the family, the occasion to tell them about your girlfriend will arise naturally. Do not feel bad for not having told them yet, there is nothing wrong with it.

Best of luck!

Nay The Nanny said...

OP it totally shouldn't matter, you're right, unfortunately it still does to some people. You need to get to know them better and see how you feel in time. If it comes up early on somehow, you can always just say your "partner" and watch the reaction you get from them. Don't fret over it, you had no reason to disclose this before taking the job and if/when it eventually comes up, if they do have a problem with it (I really doubt they will)...that is no family you want to be working for.

OwlRhode said...

I myself am a gay Nanny and have been with my wife for over 8 years. At my last Nannying position i knew the family beforehand and they not only attended our wedding but helped with some of the planning!

During my first discussion with my current family, I said something about discussing (whatever detail it was) with my wife, as she primarily takes care of the finances. There was no reaction either way and my relationship has been treated no differently than if I had said that I had a husband.

My marital status (and the fact that I have a wife) has no effect on how I work as a Nanny nor my relationship with each member of the family. Although they ask how she is and are interested in meeting her to get to know me better, there is no distrust or discrimination, which is further proof of us being a good match.

If it comes into conversation, then mention "my girlfriend" etc. If not, do not be too worried. If you ARE worried about it, then by all means ask to sit down and discuss it with them. The way I live my life is to not avoid nor deny my relationship but to not put myself on display. It is no different than if I had a husband - would I go into work and say "I just want to let you be aware that I have a boyfriend that lives with me/that I am married."

In a perfect world you wouldn't even have to worry about this. Unfortunately it is something for us to think about in a lot of interactions. Do what makes you comfortable. If they are hesitant or act differently toward you, find another family!

By simply interacting with the kids and having them aware of myself having a "wife" they have said "I can marry a girl OR a boy" no matter their own gender. They think about their options without anyone saying either way.

Best of luck to you.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

OP~
I do not think your sexual orientation is relevant AT ALL in your job.
In other words, you were under no obligation to mention anything during your interview/hiring process nor are you now.

However, in reality the world still has some close-minded conservative folks who still are not comfortable w/homosexuality in general. There are even some who equate being gay to being a pedophile. We have come quite far, but not far enough I feel.

To be safe, I would not make any references to your "girlfriend" at all...especially in the beginning. Perhaps refer to her as your partner, then change the subject.

I have worked for many families, and not one has ever inquired about my love life.
All they care about is that their child is in excellent hands and that I do my job responsibly.

marymack said...

I'm a queer nanny, and live with my girlfriend. I never "come out", but will mention "Oh, last night my girlfriend and I..." as if it's totally normally. Avoids any weird "FYI, I'M GAY! I LIKE VAGINA!" moments, and gets the point across.

Bethany said...

I'm not a gay nanny, but I don't think this is something you need to tell them. I'm of the mind set that your person life ( including relationships) are your business period.

Especially since you are a live out it's not like you need discuss overnight guests

I suppose if it comes up as natural flow in the conversation you could mention it.

But you do not need to have a discussion as if they were your family or friends.

If they find out and react badly that's their problem.

PinkFridayMissDee said...

I am straight, and I remember working in childcare center when my co-teacher asked me the questions that made me want to slap her, regardless of her being the wife of a cop. (I believe that's why she thought she could get away with everything.)

"We have never seen a boyfriend, and have never heard you mention a boyfriend, plus you dress like a guy. Are you gay?" She came right out and asked me when we were on the playground.

It took me a minute to process what she said, like it takes a minute to process surprising news. Kind of like that moment when you win the lottery or someone tells you something unexpected.

"What?", I asked her in a surprised tone.

"Are you gay? We think you are". the "we" she was referring to was the office clique she was part of, however, now that I look back on it, I don't think anyone cared if I was gay. I believe she felt threated by me, and I believe she asked me this out of insecurity, not to mention she was a total bitch.

Think of the pretty girl who turns heads. And the insecure girl who is afraid of you. lol

"I do have a boyfriend, I just prefer not to bring him around people like you. Secondly, even if I was gay, which I am not, I don't think that it is any of your business". I stood there, arms folded, glaring at her.

She felt stupid, as the look on her fact spoke volumes. "Oh", she said and flipped her long hair, walking away.

She never said anything else to me about it, but spread yet another rumor about me.

I love the questions families ask nannies about having boyfriends and how serious it is, etc. Questions about relationships and sexual orientation have nothing to do with how well one can do the job.

"friend" of the Family :D said...

Hopefully this will be a family who will like you for you and not your orientation. You seem to be a person who is considerate of other people and can pass those great qualities to children, whether or not you chose to "come out" to them or not is up to you and only you. If they have any problems or concerns once it is public to them have them ask you or discuss the problems. Hope this helps :D

Caroline said...

Another gay nanny here. My work family came over to my apartment a few months after I started and met my "roommate", but they figured things out right away. I don't think sexual orientation has anything to do with my professional life, so I never volunteered the information until it was necessary (which, in retrospect, could have been less shocking than "can I have a weekend off to get married to my girlfriend in Toronto"). They didn't bat an eyelash and, 4 years later, my wife is always completely welcome to tag along with me at work. :)

Definitely gauge how they'll react before you bring it up and don't make a huge deal about it. If they seem rather open-minded, chances are they won't care one bit.

blurp said...

It would be unprofessional for you to come out to them specifically for the purpose of disclosure. If it comes up organically that makes sense.

I grew up in a major city and now live in SF. My nanny is probably bi, but I really couldn't care less. I care how my child is treated, and how my house is taken care of. Who she lays down next to at night is irrelevant to that.

ATL Nanny said...

I always mention it casually in the interview process. It shouldn't be a factor, but for many families it is. And I'd rather not get the job and move on with my search, than work for a homophobic family and feel awkward and hide my family or worry about them finding out and firing me.

Since it's too late for that in this case, I would tread carefully for awhile. Personally, I would not lie about it. If they asked me about my husband/boyfriend/etc, I would correct them and hope for the best. But I would not go out of my way to bring it up. I would just try to stay as professional as possible for the first few weeks/months and not talk about my personal life at all. Eventually you'll be able to gauge their personalities and political leanings and decide if it's something you feel comfortable sharing with them.

oceanblue said...

I say if it comes up it comes up, but I would not bring it up.

Your bosses don't need to know about your love life.

Boundaries they are important.

1234 said...

Why do you need them to know you are gay?

Why is their approval of that aspect of your life important to you?

I'd be more concerned with making sure I was doing a good job with the kids and making sure my employers approved of my work than making sure they approved of whom I was sleeping with.

anon nanny said...

I am a gay nanny as well and it should be a non issue. My family is very liberal and cool and I am lucky for that and they know about my lifestyle and girlfriend and the kids even know as well. I am treated as equal and that's how it should be. I would never work for a family who was against equality.

nonetheirbusiness said...

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.
I'm the pot calling the kettle black, because my mb knows WAY too much about me. That being said, I think it is important to have boundaries. There is no reason you should have to inform you boss of anything about yourself outside of your work life. They have no right to know who you are with, or what you are doing outside of work unless it jeopardizes their children (like you live with a child molester who likes to ask you details about the children lol). If you did come out to MB and DB, and suddenly little Johnny starts exhibiting non-boyish behavior, rather than blaming it on a phase all boys go through, they may think you are pushing your non-traditional beliefs on their children.
To play devil's advocate, as a mom, I would like to know if my nanny was gay for two reasons. One, so that I could make sure the children did not use language that could be insensitive to the nanny, and 2 that I could explain to the children that some people live different kinds of lives than they do, and it doesn't make them bad people, just different.... Most parents however, are not as open minded. Also, if you choose to tell them, you may analyze things they say to be directed toward your orientation that you might not otherwise associate it with... For example, they tell little Johnny he can't play house and marry his friend because that's not how it goes... If you told them your orientation, you may see it as a personal attack. If they did not know your orientation, you could brush them off as close minded... Either way, they would have told little Johnny he couldn't play that way, but your perspective of the parents changes..
I hope you think everything through and make whatever decision you feel most comfortable with, but in no way are you obligated to tell them your orientation.

STR8 but not narrow said...

I think you should casually mention your GF and see how they react. If there is any homophobia there, it's time to look for a new job. You deserve to be in an environment where you are not judged by something like who you date or are attracted to. I'm straight, but I am very adamant about tolerance of all kinds. I will mention a gay friend or relative(I have several) and see how they react. If they show their homophobic colors, I'm outta there. Only by refusing to accept prejudice can we ever hope to change it.

Caroline II said...

I actually found this site by googling about being gay and being a nanny. I just want to say I'm SO relieved and inspired that there are so many members of the LGBT community who are nannies and have had positive experiences in the workplace. So thank you all for sharing your stories and reassuring me about the decisions I'm going to make w/r/t becoming a nanny.

Denvernanny said...

Even though the law prohibits hiring or not hiring someone based on their sexual orientation, working in an employer's home with their children is a different situation, a sacred trust. Your employers deserve the chance to evaluate you based on attributes that are important to them. You would NEVER knowingly hire an anti-gay nanny for your own children, would you? I was once eliminated from the running for a nanny job because I mentioned my church during the interview. She even asked me, "You are not going to try and convert my children, are you?" I was not mad, only very relieved to find out their biases before I had the chance to accept a job from them. I always mention my religion because it is a very large part of what makes me ME. I would much rather work for someone who is comfortable with my personal choices than find out later that they are afraid of and/or hate me.