My life has always been against the grain. Music was my choice, my love, my passion. I started playing music at the age of 9 and playing clubs by the time I was 11. I made it through the music industry without becoming an addict or alcoholic. But this was also my first taste in going against the grain.
I was younger than everyone else in the bands around me. I had to stand outside the clubs and wait for my band to enter the stage before I was allowed inside. My band members couldn’t have any drinks on the stage, not even water because I was underage. Being young wasn’t the only thing making it hard, being female was taboo. Female musicians weren’t even a novelty…yet. But I did it. I played music. I played with mostly male bands. I got to tour and do what I loved.
But there was a part of me that I couldn’t be unless I had a deathwish. Back in those days, I was surrounded by gay-bashing. Everyone from my band members to promotors, audience members, etc. I would hear jokes “Where’s the dyke?” “She’s on stage.” So I lived in a bubble that didn’t identify all of me. All I was at that time was music.
Unable to be the true me. I didn’t come out until I was 19 years old. I played in an all-female band and was finally comfortable since members of the band were gay or bisexual. But, our contract had stipulations. I wasn’t allowed to wear my leather jacket with my band name into gay bars and I wasn’t allowed to promote my band to the LGBT community.
As time went on and I retired from the music industry and I came out of the closet in a big way. I didn’t care who knew or what they thought. I wanted to be my authentic self. I thought it was tough being young and female in the music industry. But now looking back, it was probably the easiest I ever had it.
Trying to enter corporate America has been and still is the biggest challenge of my life. I do phone interviews and they are ready to hire me – sight unseen. But something happens when we get face to face. They don’t know what to do with me. I am a tattooed butch woman. Yes, my tattooed are covered in long sleeves and professional clothing. But my short masculine hair and questionable gender are uncoverable. Being my authentic self seems to put me in a category that lets my skill and talent go unacknowledged and it’s killing me slowly. I can do anything, I’m spirited, smart, a problem solver, team builder, technology savvy, empathetic get it done human! But all they see is someone who isn’t like them. The job gets backpedaling on the pay rate, I’m overqualified or I just never hear back from them.
What am I left with? Am I supposed to tuck my tail and go back inside a closet? Or become homeless because society doesn’t accept me. Change my appearance? Well.. In all honesty, I am growing my hair out even though I hate it. But I hate being unemployed more.
I ALWAYS do my diligence before even applying for a job. I research who the hiring manager is, I see what the companies core values are and if they actually apply them.
- Do they have or have they ever employed homosexuals? Do they seem like an open-minded company?
- Is going to an interview a waste of time, money, gas and self-esteem?
Should I have to do this? No!
Should I be hired for my talent? Yes!
And here I sit, 8 hours a day 7 days a week searching job sites, researching companies, core values, and employees even before sending out my resume. It shouldn’t be this hard. I should be hired on my ability to get a job done. And that’s what I do, for those that see me for my skills and talent. Once I’m hired I always exceed in my position. I win everyone’s hearts and build teams that work together. I’m a motivator, a teacher, and always willing to help get the job done.
If you are an employer or hiring manager, take a look at those who don’t fit your mold. Think outside of the box. Hire with diversity. If your organization employs everyone with the same background, it creates monotony while working together. It’s ok to accept us, it doesn’t make you gay. We aren’t contagious. We just want to find great employers who allow us to bring our full selves to work along with our energy, creativity, and drive to excel.