Being out in the workplace.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 05, 2012 3:35 PM GMT
    I'm completely out to my friends and family, but I continue to keep my sexuality private at work. It's not that I'm ashamed, I just don't like how certain things can change once people find out you're gay. Normally I would just avoid someone who gave me a problem (or tell them off), but unfortunately I can't do that at work.

    Added to that is the fact that people at my job, including the president of the company who I interact with on a regular basis, use derogatory terms frequently, and I just don't feel like opening myself up to that. I know (based on seeing a fellow out employee) that there's just a headache waiting for me.

    However, as I'm getting older I just don't care to hide it anymore at work. Anyone have to deal with a similar situation and have any advice? Or is anyone in the same boat and just keeping themselves closeted at work?
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    Jan 05, 2012 3:52 PM GMT
    I don't really care enough about my co-workers to share that much of myself with them. Also, it's true that you can't avoid them once you have a problem with them. But, if it bothers you enough then I think you should come out at work.
  • buckled

    Posts: 165

    Jan 05, 2012 4:11 PM GMT
    Being gay doesn't define you so don't feel obligated to "come out" to them. However, I personally never deny it if someone asks me or if they ask if I have a girlfriend.

    I work with a ton of women so it's easy for me to be out... talk about guys etc. But after I graduate and get into a more professional atmosphere I'll definitely not deny being gay / having a boyfriend (if I do).. but I see no reason to just tell people unless asked.
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    Jan 05, 2012 4:21 PM GMT
    buckled saidBeing gay doesn't define you so don't feel obligated to "come out" to them. However, I personally never deny it if someone asks me or if they ask if I have a girlfriend.

    I work with a ton of women so it's easy for me to be out... talk about guys etc. But after I graduate and get into a more professional atmosphere I'll definitely not deny being gay / having a boyfriend (if I do).. but I see no reason to just tell people unless asked.


    That's the funny thing. I work with mostly women too, and they're the ones walking around dropping the F-bomb and giving my openly gay co-worker shit. The president of the company is female, and she's the worst one. I don't think any of the men I work with would even give a crap.

    I've never felt that I owe them anything; this is about trying to balance wanting to be open about myself with not wanting to deal with bs from the people I work with.
  • buckled

    Posts: 165

    Jan 05, 2012 4:24 PM GMT
    Young_Sir said

    That's the funny thing. I work with mostly women too, and they're the ones walking around dropping the F-bomb and giving my openly gay co-worker shit. The president of the company is female, and she's the worst one. I don't think any of the men I work with would even give a crap.

    I've never felt that I owe them anything; this is about trying to balance wanting to be open about myself with not wanting to deal with bs from the people I work with.


    I didn't realize that you had open coworkers that are given shit... that changes things... don't know what to say now.. kinda sucks. =/
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    Jan 05, 2012 4:29 PM GMT
    Since the pres. of your company and a number of others are giving shit to your one outed co-worker, I would not out myself (handwriting on the wall, so to speak). I once got fired when my "news" got out. I had thought I was well liked and appreciated - being one of the stand out achievers in my office. Little did I know that some people are "hidden" homophobes. I was gone so fast I couldn't believe it. Was "being gay" the reason given for my dismissal? Of course not. They didn't want to be sued. Homophobes are not that stupid. They say it is downsizing, or reorganization, or some ingenious b.s. that just suddenly cropped up. Mmmm. Lesson learned for me? Keep it out of the work place (unless I'm absolutely sure the "news" won't hurt me).
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    Jan 05, 2012 4:38 PM GMT
    I'm fairly comfortable telling people I'm gay when/if asked. There are those occasions when someone is confrontational. In those situations, I tend to fire back. An agressive, "Are you a fag/queer/homo?" gets a, "Yes, are you?" response.

    Most times, I deal with it on a need-to-know basis. Note: Hardly anyone "needs" to know.
  • Kwokpot

    Posts: 329

    Jan 05, 2012 4:46 PM GMT
    Young_Sir said
    buckled saidBeing gay doesn't define you so don't feel obligated to "come out" to them. However, I personally never deny it if someone asks me or if they ask if I have a girlfriend.

    I work with a ton of women so it's easy for me to be out... talk about guys etc. But after I graduate and get into a more professional atmosphere I'll definitely not deny being gay / having a boyfriend (if I do).. but I see no reason to just tell people unless asked.


    That's the funny thing. I work with mostly women too, and they're the ones walking around dropping the F-bomb and giving my openly gay co-worker shit. The president of the company is female, and she's the worst one. I don't think any of the men I work with would even give a crap.

    I've never felt that I owe them anything; this is about trying to balance wanting to be open about myself with not wanting to deal with bs from the people I work with.

    I've read your profile (BTW, I grew up nearby you in Jericho) and I'm surprised about how your co-workers react to the other out employee. I would HAVE to ask, though, do you consider the other out person particularly flamboyant/stereotype gay person? Ifso, that could have something to do with it.

    I used to work for JP Morgan Chase in Manhattan, and although I wasn't out at first, I did come out @ work (Working right at Sheridan Square kinda made it easy, lol)
    In fact, later on in my career, when I became a Business Analyst and worked a staff/office position, I became a founding member of JPMorgan Chase's first LGBT Networking group. I even went around making presentations and speeches about being gay at work.

    I found the whole experience nothing but positive, and I felt that it only enhanced my working relationships with my peers & co-workers.
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    Jan 05, 2012 4:49 PM GMT
    I think sometimes people assume everybody is on the same page with them and thus feel emboldened to target someone. Do they badmouth him to his face or only behind his back? If it is the latter it may be because they assume you're "one of the boys". I can understand why you would feel the tug to speak up, if only to defend your co-worker (whom you don't say if you get along with or not) but also in the event that they offend someone else (customer, for instance!)

    I am not even sure this is an issue of your own orientation so much as conscience... if I was straight I would still be bothered. Just as even though I am Caucasian, I am bothered by racist jokes and/or race-based harassment.

    I think the anti-harassment laws and equal opportunity laws in NY are pretty strict. They run the risk of being sued, fined or worse if your co-worker can make a case that he was singled out for abuse over his orientation. Maybe if there were two of you they would not be so bold. They are entitled to their backwards views but they should not be making someone's work place hostile over it.
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:03 PM GMT
    I have never hid my sexuality from my co workers, my last job was a male dominated private security forces style company, based in the Middle East in an administrative role finding myself in all sorts of "militaristic" situations.
    The guys that would look after me were all ex forces and tough MEN they all knew I was gay and were ultra respectful, mores the pityicon_lol.gif
    I never had a big coming out I just lived my life, somewhat closeted when in "Arabia" as its physically dangerous to be openly gay.
    Which is an interesting situation for a gay man to find himself in at my age as I've been out for half my life, but that's another thread.
    I just stayed true to myself' which always works, if you are good at your job, respect others and are upfront with no agenda, most people are sincere and demonstrate mutual respect. Sure there are times when inappropriate comments are made and that sucks. Its never easy changing a culture of gay bashing. We all need to keep chipping away, politely, professionally. Sometimes just a "look" at a fellow co worker who makes an inappropriate comment is enough.
    There is no point in making a mountain out of a mole hill, but do stand up for yourself when necessary .
    Guess as I've gotten older my battles are more wisely and carefully considered.
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:16 PM GMT
    I guess it just bothers me because there are a few people who i know would be ok with it, based on seeing how they act with my open co-worker, and I would want to tell them, but then it would probably get back to the rest.

    I know I shouldn't fight this battle, I just get annoyed when I see how my co-worker is treated. He's more effeminate, and he's quiet and less likely to stick up for himself, which I guess they pick up on. They're all those "power women" in the workplace who like to emasculate men to begin with, so this is just one more thing they can harp on him for. Just bothers me, had to vent. Thanks for your responses!
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:19 PM GMT
    Im out to my co-workers because I like the idea that I can take a potential partner to company events, which is very important to me.

    Also, in California, we have some very strict laws to protect my ass, so Im allowed to show up flaming and there is nothing the company can do.

    Literally, on fire.

    like:

    burning-man-lightmatter.jpg
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:23 PM GMT
    I've never worked for a company where I could not be my whole self. I find that a lot of people in the workplace don't have a clear divide between personal and professional. And that is important. There are some at my company who think I am a bit stand offish because I don't engage in a lot of workplace drama. And I have found that some of the drama laden issues I experience were perpetrated by both gay and straight co-workers. My main concern at work is adding to my professional arsenal. So I align myself with people who can help me meet that end, whether it is a new position at work or an opportunity elsewhere. And I have found that those folks understand more of the person I am than being concerned about who I love or sleep with.

    As to the derogatory comments: That can be tough depending on your position in the company. Check with HR or their website to see if they have a non discrimination clause that includes sexuality. If they do and depending on the severity of the comments, file a complaint with HR. Only you can gage whether that would be necessary, but you shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable at work or otherwise.
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:29 PM GMT
    It doesn't sound like a good work place environment to be out. I guess it all would depend on how important it is to you that your co-workers know. Do you have a partner that you'd like to bring to office events? Are you someone who wants to try to change how other people view gay people by being a role model?

    In my opinion, my sexual orientation doesn't have any relation to what I do for a living so it doesn't come up. If someone asks if I'm seeing someone, I'd tell them. I come here to work, and I really like my job, but it's not a place that I socialize. If I have lunch with a coworker, we mostly talk shop.
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:39 PM GMT
    Since I have been out I have been completely open at the work place.
  • DesireIron

    Posts: 426

    Jan 05, 2012 5:40 PM GMT
    I've just never encountered the situation where I felt it appropriate to declare my sexuality. Everybody has put 2+2 together, but it's not discussed. There is another gay guy in the office and it's the same for him. We have a great time joking between ourselves....we don't have to explain the "jokes."
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    Jan 05, 2012 5:44 PM GMT
    I had to explain to my current supervisor what a "significant other" was in order to take advantage of company policy to attend my BF's funeral, but now that she understands she is completely cool with it. I only discuss my personal life with the kind of people I'd be friends with under other circumstances. I don't know and can't control who else they tell, but it has not been a problem thus far. In my previous assignment with the same company, my team was much more of a "family" (we still get together socially years later) and everybody knew just because we were close-knit. We were invited to co-worker's life events like any other couple and I do miss that camaraderie, which has less to do with my orientation than the mix of my current team, telecommuting, and the nature of my current job.
  • DesireIron

    Posts: 426

    Jan 05, 2012 6:09 PM GMT
    I've just never encountered the situation where I felt it appropriate to declare my sexuality. Everybody has put 2+2 together, but it's not discussed. There is another gay guy in the office and it's the same for him. We have a great time joking between ourselves....we don't have to explain the "jokes."
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Jan 05, 2012 6:34 PM GMT
    Coming out at your workplace sounds like it would bring you more grief than relief. Looking at you profile, I read that you are a lawyer. By your references to "the President (female)" can we guess that you are at some small company, and not a major corporation or a lawfirm? You like your job, but have no respect for some of the people you work with. Don't expect people like the president you describe ever to change their spots. You are only 30, at an early point of a career. Consider finding a new place to work, and after you have, let the current management know that you left because the President was homophobic and insulting. You did not mention anything that would indicate that this job has "golden" handcuffs for you, and people jobhop all the time these days. Keep your resume up to date and your eyes open for other opportunities. Right now this is a very tough economy for the legal profession - lawfirms downsizing, etc - but this will not always be true.

    Yes there are legal protections (perhaps viable) in NY. But who wants a legal case that will drag on for 5 years which you might not win? And if you did not have to sue, she could still make life quite unpleasant for you without any consequences to them.

    If it were me, I would seek out a better job, and leave when I could. In the meantime, realize that your friends, at least, can empathize with your disturbing situation.
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    Jan 05, 2012 7:13 PM GMT
    Suetonius saidComing out at your workplace sounds like it would bring you more grief than relief. Looking at you profile, I read that you are a lawyer. By your references to "the President (female)" can we guess that you are at some small company, and not a major corporation or a lawfirm? You like your job, but have no respect for some of the people you work with. Don't expect people like the president you describe ever to change their spots. You are only 30, at an early point of a career. Consider finding a new place to work, and after you have, let the current management know that you left because the President was homophobic and insulting. You did not mention anything that would indicate that this job has "golden" handcuffs for you, and people jobhop all the time these days. Keep your resume up to date and your eyes open for other opportunities. Right now this is a very tough economy for the legal profession - lawfirms downsizing, etc - but this will not always be true.

    Yes there are legal protections (perhaps viable) in NY. But who wants a legal case that will drag on for 5 years which you might not win? And if you did not have to sue, she could still make life quite unpleasant for you without any consequences to them.

    If it were me, I would seek out a better job, and leave when I could. In the meantime, realize that your friends, at least, can empathize with your disturbing situation.


    I am definitely looking starting with the new year. And you're spot on that I work for a small company; I'm in house counsel. People have also mentioned that I might want to bring a suit, but you're right that they can be more hassle than they're worth (I know). Thanks for the response!

    I think I'm excited about the prospect of not saying anything now and waiting until I leave. Hopefully soon...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 05, 2012 7:26 PM GMT
    Trying to control the situation will only bring misery.
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    Jan 05, 2012 7:29 PM GMT
    I think it's no big deal for people to be out at work. It may be weird for the first week or so, but people get over it. I'm out at work and I really don't give a shit what people think about it, it's my life after all. I'm not fem so for me it's not obvious, I have to tell people it is always a bit awkward, but whatever.
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    Jan 05, 2012 7:45 PM GMT
    I think my main reason for not being out is not shame/fear, but instead that I don't want to have to deal with the baggage of other people not knowing what to say, how to react, personal feelings etc. Being African American, I don't have the option of hiding my race but my experiences have been 95% extremely positive in corporate America. I think a lot of it is because I remember people's names and details about them and try to relate to as many people as I can. It takes a lot of energy but it's worth it. Maybe racial comments are said but are filtered out when I'm around. Who knows.

    However, because people think I fit in with straight guys, I hear the unfiltered orientation comments, most of it being, "I don't have a problem with gay people, just don't bring me into 'that shit'". This usually is aimed at flamboyant guys. I honestly feel better about coming out at work than I would to my own family but that's a different topic. Sometimes, you have to be the example that not all gays are the same. But it's your choice. I would find another company.
  • tuffguyndc

    Posts: 4437

    Jan 05, 2012 8:04 PM GMT
    my question to you is has anyone ask if you were gay? if they have not asked if you were gay than why tell them?
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    Jan 05, 2012 9:37 PM GMT
    tuffguyndc saidmy question to you is has anyone ask if you were gay? if they have not asked if you were gay than why tell them?


    It may not be about them asking me if I'm a poof. I may of made a stament about my companion, and they ask about my wife, and I say no he is a man. But then some people will think of any excuse to lie, or justify their lies.