I was recently invited to be a "table leader" at a big conference mentoring/career luncheon. I had been
volunteered nominated by a colleague because I have just set up a lab, and one of the topics is "setting up your first lab". Today I was finally filling out the RSVP form, in which you are asked to select all appropriate tables that you could lead. One is "gay and lesbian issues in science". Now, of course this one is relevant to me. And I'm glad to see that the big conference is working in this area.
Here's the weird thing: I am hesitating to check that box. I don't know why, but I'm definitely feeling a little anxiety about volunteering for this one. Now, I'm fully out. Not just here, but IRL. So, why am I scared? I don't know. Maybe part of it is that I would be coming out on such a large scale. My name will be in a program book, and this will be a thing that becomes "searchable" in my professional world. In the future, grant reviewers and the like will run across it if they google me. It is always a little bit of a nervous charge when I come out to a new person. And this would be that x 10^4.
I think I am, deep-down, a little worried this will come back to haunt me. Also, what am I going to say? I don't really know if I have any good advice for other non-heterosexual folks out there that are in this business. In fact, it would be useful for me to talk to someone about this that is a few years ahead of me on the tenure-track. So maybe if I was just there, as an example that some of us queer folk are making it, that would be useful?
This is getting a little rambly (is that a word?). So I'll stop and ask for input. If I'm "out" for penny, should I just bite the bullet and be "out" for a pound*? Do you think I should check the box, or keep my "coming out" on a more person-to-person level? And if I bail, is that dishonest of me?
*ouch. that is rambly and mixing up the metaphors. sorry.