Alexa, Can I Be Fired For Being Gay?

In 2014, I lost my job a few days before I bought a house. Talk about terrible timing. I assumed they wouldn’t even let me have the place when I explained that I had no idea where my next paycheck was coming from. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. I still recollect signing the mortgage papers and thinking, “oh man, I better find a job fast.” 

I remember looking online and doing a lot of applying—job after job. I had been remote for over a year at this point. Now I was trying to find a job in Nashville, TN with no connections. I lived 1,000+ miles away from every business contact I had ever made and I owned a house. I had to make this work. 

I also distinctly remember another moment: Googling, “Can I be fired for being gay in Tennessee?”

I remember the wave of panic that washed over me head to toe when I realized the answer was yes as I scanned headline after headline about people just like me that were fired for being gay. I felt like it was six years earlier when I was making up pronouns and names for the people I dated to avoid telling anyone I was gay. 

I genuinely considered if I should go back in the closet. If I had to choose between talking about my weekends and paying for my home, I would choose the latter. My survival was on the line. I was willing to do just about anything. 

I got lucky – I didn’t have to choose. I got a call from a friend offering me a job. Remote, too. Everything turned out fine for me.

I’m lucky. That’s not typical. Jobs don’t just land in our laps every time bad things happen or because we are different. Trans kids don’t typically get the job after they see us. For so long, we could be fired just because of who we are. There were no protections for millions of cases over hundreds of years. 

While the world is a little different today, job insecurity still feels the same – if you’re LGBT+ or not. The shame and fear that comes with worrying about where your next paycheck will come from and if people will judge you always feel the same: scary. 

While we can’t change the world in a day, you can help people feel safer with one easy step. Add pronouns to your social media profiles. It’s a way of quietly saying “you’re safe here” in a matter of clicks. My blog this week will show you how (and explain more on why it matter so much to me.) You can read that here.

I’m also excited to share that we have all new Three Ears Media Pride gear. Get yours here!

LGBT and Diversity Weekly Letters

Kat Kibben View All →

Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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