A couple of weeks ago, I was in the lobby of the Gaylord hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi, for a job interview.
I had come here as a gay man to interview for a position in the hotel’s restaurant and bar department, and was waiting to speak to the CEO.
I was the only black man there.
As soon as the interview began, I realised that my white interviewer was probably one of the only people who knew what I was talking about.
A few days later, a white colleague, in a similar situation, told me that he too was going through the same thing, having been invited to a job meeting as a manager.
In the past, the topic of discrimination in the workplace had been a taboo topic.
When I mentioned that I was gay, it was the first time someone had ever asked me to explain it.
But this time, I had a choice: to make myself look more human by not explaining my sexuality, or to keep my identity a secret.
I chose the latter.
I thought I would be in good company, and that the interviewers would not know about my sexual orientation, either.
But I was wrong.
The interviewers were surprised and shocked to hear about my sexuality.
They were also genuinely interested in what I had to say.
The conversation went well enough for the interviewees to give me a second chance.
They told me I was welcome to be interviewed again.
But they did not invite me back.
The same experience happened to me when I came out as a trans man and a white gay man in 2009.
I told my story on The Howard Stern Show a few weeks later, and the interviewer was sympathetic to me.
He understood that my sexuality had been private to me for years and that he could only be a friend to me if I shared it with him.
It wasn’t until I spoke to my co-workers about my experience that I realised the discrimination I faced, and how it affected my career.
I still get calls from colleagues asking me about discrimination.
They’re shocked that they’ve been singled out for such treatment.
“I’ve had so much support from people,” I told them.
“If you’re a white straight guy, you’ve been treated differently.
If you’re black, you’re treated differently.”
But they’re not the only ones who have had to deal with discrimination.
The LGBT community has been singled up as a target for bullying and harassment for so long that many people believe that being gay is a choice.
And that’s not necessarily true.
For one thing, there are many gay men and lesbians who have not been targeted for discrimination.
It’s the fact that gay men are often less likely to be discriminated against because of their sexuality that has made the issue of discrimination so divisive in the community.
In an ABC News survey in February 2016, one in five respondents said they did or had experienced discrimination in their workplace or their neighbourhood, compared to one in three respondents who reported having been harassed or discriminated against in the past year.
That same survey also found that one in six transgender people had experienced workplace harassment, and one in seven had been sexually assaulted.
Gay men who identify as transgender also face a higher rate of discrimination than transgender people of all backgrounds.
A study from the University of Queensland in 2015 found that a quarter of gay men surveyed in Australia had been physically assaulted in the previous 12 months, compared with one in eight transgender respondents.
But there is another group that is less likely than LGBT people to be the target of discrimination: black people.
Research from the Williams Institute in 2016 found that the LGBT community faces higher rates of discrimination when it comes to employment than any other racial or ethnic group.
Black people are also more likely to report being sexually harassed, beaten or assaulted than other racial and ethnic groups.
There’s a widespread perception among the LGBT communities that discrimination against them has been increasing, particularly when it came to the workplace.
In a 2015 report, the Williams Foundation said that the discrimination experienced by LGBT people has increased from 30 per cent in 2007 to 57 per cent by 2020.
That report also found a higher incidence of discrimination against LGBT people of colour, with 36 per cent of those surveyed experiencing workplace harassment and 36 per and 14 per cent being physically assaulted.
For transgender people, it’s the discrimination in our community that is most problematic.
The majority of LGBT people surveyed in the Williams report said that being out as transgender or being gay was the most important factor that made them consider leaving the community, with 26 per cent reporting that it was their biggest motivation for leaving.
But many transgender people feel that it’s not enough for them to just leave.
They still have a lot to live for.
The Williams Foundation has commissioned a survey of over 1,000 LGBT Australians to explore how they feel about their identity.
What we found is that it is not just the discrimination that hurts us,