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Woman Receiving Diversity Award Knows She's Undeserving

DEAR ABBY: I'm currently interning with a government-contracted group. Part of my job involves working with LGBT rights organizations. Recently, at a meeting with my boss and several representatives of these organizations, the topic of fairness in the workplace was mentioned. I was asked what my experience was, and I shared that I thought the workplace was fair, and my experience was fine.

I didn't think about it at the time, but I now realize I was being asked how my experience was as an LGBT person. In light of this, my boss has nominated me for a diversity award. The problem is I'm a heterosexual female, and I think he promoted me for the honor because he thinks I am gay.

How should I handle this? Do I need to go on record to my boss that I am straight, that I have a boyfriend, and he misunderstood me? I don't want this to come back to haunt me, but I'm afraid addressing it may ruin my credibility because it has taken so long for me to address it. My sexual orientation is obviously not something of great interest at work, but I feel I am living a terrible lie, and I don't know how to fix this. -- ASHAMED IN D.C.

DEAR ASHAMED: No one should feel compelled to disclose one's sexual orientation at work, no matter the circumstances. That said, in this particular case, go to your boss before this goes any further. Explain to him privately that you didn't realize when the question was asked that anyone would presume you were gay. If you accept the diversity award without clearing the air first, it could potentially be a source of embarrassment and jeopardize your credibility.

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