Gay Visibility At Work

Coming out at work is something that I have not successfully navigated yet. While I am out in my personal life, I have avoided coming out in my professional life. At my previous job, I only discussed my personal life with a few coworkers. I only ever came out to coworkers that I spent time with outside of work. I rarely discussed relationships or dates when I was working. I avoided it, and when it did come up, I acted like I was straight. Staying in the closet was familiar to me, and I found it far too easy to return to.

Addressing my sexuality in conversations with people – especially people I do not know well – is uncomfortable. In the workforce, I tend to take the easy way out; I tend to let people assume that I am straight. While some of my coworkers may have been open minded, something stopped me from coming out to them. In that particular environment, I did not feel comfortable or safe doing so. I worried about job security and how some of the other employees would treat me. I defaulted to straight because I felt like it benefitted me. However, I might have respected myself more if I came out. It would have been brave and it would have created more visibility in my workforce, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

At my new job, there is an employee who is openly gay. She has a wife and children, and she talks about her family openly with many people. Knowing that there is someone else like me in the office is incredibly comforting. And yet, I have not come out to anyone there. I think it’s okay to hold off on coming out until I’m ready and I feel comfortable doing so. However, I can see how important it is to be openly gay in the business world. Seeing my coworker do it and seeing how she is still respected and beloved by her coworkers gives me hope. Hope that I would also be accepted and respected, and that I could one day be someone whose confidence and openness makes another gay employee more comfortable in their professional environment.

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6 thoughts on “Gay Visibility At Work

  1. bone&silver says:

    You need to do what’s right for you. I’m glad you feel so comforted by your openly-gay colleague; yet perhaps she’s more of an Extrovert, and enjoys the attention she draws to herself. Sometimes I just want to stay ‘neutral’ and get the job done! Plus I love my privacy. But yes, we do need to think about the role we are playing in modelling ‘being out and proud’ for younger folk coming up (and out). G

    Like

    • aquestinqueerparenting says:

      I agree that you need to do what’s right for you. I’m pretty much out at work but some suppliers I work with don’t know and it got awkward when I got married and hyphenated my last name. I also have a coworker who is out at work and highly respected. She doesn’t share much about herself except with her inner circle but it was comforting to know her while I was new at work. Be kind to yourself and be patient. I think you’ll know if the time is right. Thank for sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mac says:

      I definitely value my privacy, and I am sure I’m influenced by the fact that I tend to be more introverted. I do admire the confidence that some people have with owning their identity in such a public way, but I don’t think I am at that point yet. Even in my personal life, while I’m out I still have a tendency to avoid talking about or referencing being gay unless I am with friends of mine that are also gay.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. livinggaybrisbane says:

    I’m finally in a place where I’m totally open about myself at work. It took me a long time to get to this point, but I’m honestly so much happier with my life and my job. I work in a professional organisation in an industry that is generally viewed as conservative, so I had all sorts of reservations about being open, but for me its been such a great outcome. My leader and I both laughed about an awkward conversation with an ex in the elevator the other day.
    But you need to be ready to take the step.

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