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.