An honest question for gay professionals...

  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jul 13, 2013 8:40 PM GMT
    I will be taking the first few steps of what I hope to be a challenging and gratifying career right away and was hoping any of the guys who are enjoying their own or even finished theirs could provide some advice. The question isn't whether to come out at the office or not...that one is easy. Either say it right away or just bring a cute guy to the Christmas party and act shocked that they didn't know. In short, I have no problems at all with being out to familiar faces at the office.

    My question is more about how you dealt with situations where you were presented with new opportunities in your career to reach your potential, try something completely different, network with interesting people, etc... but proactively identifying as a gay man *upfront* (however subtle) caused others to overlook your value, character or skills. Or, where you were faced with a decision where you felt you had to defer making it plain that you were gay until you were confident that the people on the other end had recognized your value and skill.

    Anyhow, I hope that's not too personal, but any perspective on this sort of thing would be very helpful!
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    Jul 13, 2013 8:46 PM GMT
    maxferguson saidI will be taking the first few steps of what I hope to be a challenging and gratifying career right away and was hoping any of the guys who are enjoying their own or even finished theirs could provide some advice. The question isn't whether to come out at the office or not...that one is easy. Either say it right away or just bring a cute guy to the Christmas party and act shocked that they didn't know. In short, I have no problems at all with being out to familiar faces at the office.

    My question is more about how you dealt with situations where you were presented with new opportunities in your career to reach your potential, try something completely different, network with interesting people, etc... but proactively identifying as a gay man *upfront* (however subtle) caused others to overlook your value, character or skills. Or, where you were faced with a decision where you felt you had to defer making it plain that you were gay until you were confident that the people on the other end had recognized your value and skill.

    Anyhow, I hope that's not too personal, but any perspective on this sort of thing would be very helpful!


    I worked for a non-profit corporation for several years. I had it easy though. The CEO was gay, and not just a little gay either. I befriended him and... well, let's just say that's a long story for another day.

    My advice to you comes from watching him though. He was never reluctant to hide his sexuality from potential business partners and prospects. Even though he and I are no longer friends, I still admire his bravery to represent his business as LGBT owned.
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    Jul 13, 2013 9:24 PM GMT
    At work I was semi-closeted; I might tell people when I could tell they wouldn't have a problem with it but I never made a point of telling everyone. I felt like it was sort of like religion; not really important for others to know and not something to make an issue of.

    Remember that it's your profession; the workplace is not the place to bring out your personal stuff, politics, beliefs, or religion. You want people to evaluate you on your professionalism and ability to do the job, not your personal stuff.

    You should be able to tell people you're gay and not suffer for it, but you might, so prudence would dictate being cautious.
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    Jul 13, 2013 9:35 PM GMT
    It really depends on your work environment..

    .. I do two things for a living..
    One work environment ..Sex and sexuality is not up for discussion EVER!

    ..The other.. I have a close knit group of guys that I hang with..

    I came out the other day when they were about to haul me off to a straight strip club to look at knee length boobs and C-section scars. icon_eek.gif

    Coming out saved my life !
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    Jul 14, 2013 12:19 AM GMT
    I think whether to do or say anything during an interview that might identify you as gay is the tricker question.

    Once you have the job, I think that it is generally best to come out pretty quickly. Otherwise, people might wonder why you never mention dating, spouse, significant other and that can be more awkward than just being out.
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    Jul 14, 2013 12:29 AM GMT
    Being gay has nothing to do with your ability to perform your job! Be yourself! If someone wants to know and they ask you, tell them that you are gay. If someone doesn't like it, to bad for them! One less fucker you got to worry about.
  • Apparition

    Posts: 3521

    Jul 14, 2013 12:38 AM GMT
    I have a pink bike helmet and rainbow key strap so most gay guys know right away. I dont really say anything not gender neutral for a week or so though. I like to scope a place out first. I call people ongay stuff if i hear it in the mean time though. After that they all know.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 14, 2013 12:40 AM GMT
    When I do a presentation for a new client group or a new client in general, gay.. anything is never a consideration.
    I've even done business with gay groups and they know all about me. I'm there for business purposes, strictly. My sexuality is not a part of the process.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jul 14, 2013 12:50 AM GMT
    You guys who can pass as straight have it easy. People can tell I'm gay. I think.icon_rolleyes.gificon_cry.gificon_razz.gif
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    Jul 14, 2013 12:52 AM GMT
    maxferguson said
    Anyhow, I hope that's not too personal, but any perspective on this sort of thing would be very helpful!

    Your profile mentions a degree in finance, but not the particular type of business you're contemplating, nor your own job description within it. Here's something with which I'm involved, that may or may not dovetail with your future duties:

    My husband & I belong to a gay professional networking group, that in fact will be meeting for lunch later this month. Gays & lesbians from the fields of law, accounting, health, press, insurance, investment, broadcasting, real estate, travel, etc, all network and promote each other. My husband & I represent a non-for-profit HIV/AIDS organization, that's always looking for corporate sponsors.

    And not all their companies are gay-owned or exclusively focused on gays, but rather see the business potential in the gay market. Therefore they send their "gay rep" to attend these mixers to help capture that burgeoning niche.

    Now this approach may not apply to your new employer and position, or at this initial stage in your tenure. And of course a danger anytime an employee makes himself too highly specialized is that he gets pidgeon-holed, at the risk of reduced career diversity and advancement.

    But do look for ways in which your orientation is not merely something to be benignly tolerated in the workplace, but may actually develop into a company & personal asset. Don't flaunt it with your colleagues, but always consider it as a potential hidden talent & strength.
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    Jul 14, 2013 1:00 AM GMT
    may11 saidIf someone wants to know and they ask you, tell them that you are gay. If someone doesn't like it, to bad for them!

    And too bad for you if they happen to be a right wing Christian homophobe or a closet homophobe and are in the position to affect your career.
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    Jul 14, 2013 1:01 AM GMT
    may11 saidIf someone wants to know and they ask you, tell them that you are gay.

    Nobody at work has any business asking if you are gay. The only things they need to know about are the things that you'd put on your resume. That excludes your sexual orientation, your religion, your politics, stance on abortion, stance on gun control, etc.
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    Jul 14, 2013 1:32 AM GMT
    I really don't think it's a good idea to reveal too much personal info about oneself at the work place. I'm not just talking about sexual orientation, but also about personal/family problems, your conflicts with coworkers, etc. People who do this always revealing their personal feelings to others come across a bit immature. Think about it; how much personal information do you know of those who seem to have it together & appear professional. I bet not too much. There is a reason for that.
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    Jul 14, 2013 1:41 AM GMT
    I'm wondering if the people who say you should come out are on the same wavelength as those who say not to. The ones who say to come out may be thinking of a non-career job, like working as a barista at Starbucks. There's a big difference between that and, for example, doing a computer stuff, which is what I did.
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    Jul 14, 2013 2:01 AM GMT
    i've had it both ways. I have come out after I had been employed, and I was very open and honest in my current position from the beginning. I prefer to be open and honest from the start. It is the only way to have an authentic work career and to build good professional relationships. It is too hard to hide who you are. It does not mean that you have to be the poster child for gay rights, but it also means you dont have to worry about someone finding out your secret and outing you. You will lose control of the situation. At the end of the day its your decision, and you must do what feels right to you. This is just my opinion.
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    Jul 14, 2013 2:30 AM GMT
    This is where there is overlap with being a racially diverse or female employee except in those situations you don't have the choice of when to divulge. My advice is no different. You have to try as hard as you can to build relationships and networks on your team so that you're seen as your name instead of being defined by random factors. I would say that in my career, my race has actually helped in such situations because people respect you when you succeed no matter what. You build relationships with everyone you interact with, not for the sake of networking, but for sake of building strong relationships with people. You never know who the decision makers may poll about their experience with you. Like my alias says... Make your own luck.
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    Jul 14, 2013 2:41 AM GMT
    Focus on being a professional. Do not hide your identity.. Bring your bf to the Christmas party. But I like it when people refrain from decorating their cubicle and screen savers with pictures of family and pets. I dont want or need to know everything about thier personal life. just the basics will do. If your focus is on being an accomplished professional that is what others will see.
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    Jul 14, 2013 2:57 AM GMT
    I have a different take than some of the guys on this thread that choose not to reveal their sexual orientation. Now, I'm not talking about taking about being gay all the time. Having said that, I think most people are cool with you talking about your partner or boyfriend or date. After all, most straight people mention their spouses and significant others all the time in casual conversation. It is when you self censor that people start to wonder why you never say anything and I think that presents more of an issue in the workplace than just being upfront with your sexual orientation.
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    Jul 14, 2013 3:08 AM GMT
    I was out at work and my career didn't suffer as a result. Having said that, it wasn't a topic for conversation during the interview(s) for the job [there were six over a two week period]. I chose who to tell at work just like I choose who to tell in my social circles. It's a personal issue and only you can determine if it's appropriate for your work environment and who to share that aspect of your private life with.
  • BlackBeltGuy

    Posts: 2609

    Jul 14, 2013 3:28 AM GMT
    TheGuyNextDoor saidI take a totally different approach to sexuality in the work place. I choose to leave it at home.

    I wear a wedding ring since I'm hitched, and most folks never think to ask. The one's that I'm closest to all know because we're that close. The other 325 are there to do business and it's a non-issue.

    Your sexuality is personal and you choose who needs to know. Like perhaps, only the ones that inquire. I've worked in the corporate world for 20 yrs and it's a non-issue unless you make it one.


    agreed.
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    Jul 14, 2013 4:13 AM GMT
    Niceguy1964 saidi've had it both ways. I have come out after I had been employed, and I was very open and honest in my current position from the beginning. I prefer to be open and honest from the start. It is the only way to have an authentic work career and to build good professional relationships. It is too hard to hide who you are. It does not mean that you have to be the poster child for gay rights, but it also means you dont have to worry about someone finding out your secret and outing you. You will lose control of the situation. At the end of the day its your decision, and you must do what feels right to you. This is just my opinion.


    +1

    How you approach this depends in large part upon what kind of life you want to lead. Do you consider "work" separate from "life?" In that case, maybe you don't want your co-workers to know your orientation. Are work and life inseparable? Then you will enjoy the hours you spend at work considerably more if you are honest.

    I was once taken to lunch at a private club by a very influential older gentleman. He wanted to interest me in a seven-figure job. There were no other candidates. During the course of the conversation, he kept asking questions about my girlfriend and similar aspects of my personal life. I sidestepped them, thinking them impertinent but not actively hiding my orientation. Eventually, I answered directly, making clear that I'm gay. The tone of the conversation abruptly changed. The older gentleman, who had all but offered me the position, ended our meeting.

    I was a little annoyed at first, but then it occurred to me: I wouldn't be happy in a job in which it was important to my employers that I be heterosexual. And because I spend more hours working than any other activity, I want to be fulfilled at work. It's a part of who I am.

    We must each make this choice according to our own priorities and values.
  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jul 14, 2013 4:33 AM GMT
    Wow, I certainly wasn't expecting this much interest in a question like that icon_razz.gif Just hearing about how different people choose how much to reveal about themselves and when is helpful.


    ART_DECO: I'm currently preparing for a fourth round of interviews with a buy-side investment manager. I'm very familiar with the firm and its people (my mom worked there for over 20 years) and I have no misgivings about the firm's professionalism and dedication to its employees. I'll shoot you a message though - I'd like to learn more about your gay networking group!


    I would approach my original question a little differently and ask it backwards rather than try zoom in on a vague situation that calls for more specificity. Zooming out a bit and looking at one's career in general, what types of situations/opportunities/relationships have motivated you to perhaps exercise more tact in disclosing being gay than you might otherwise like to? Or, when have you found being more tactful than usual beneficial?

    Thanks for the advice!
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    Jul 15, 2013 9:04 PM GMT
    I wouldn't worry about this Max. You're in Canada where we are all 100% equal and have been for quite some time.

    The guys replying are in the US where they do not have full equality.

    I guess I'm wondering why you'd think you'd be passed over for being gay. Have you seen that happen up here?

    -intrigued
  • conservativej...

    Posts: 2465

    Jul 15, 2013 9:16 PM GMT
    You will always possess an advantage when you can say "the buck stops here" and enforce that position in the business world. It has been decadees for me since I was in a positon where I was simply Joe Smo on someone else's payroll. Employers and bosses run the ganut in regards to what they tolerate both openly and obliquely. If the first and foremost requirement for you is that you wear your "gayness on the cuff," then perhaps you should be selective in courting an employer.
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    Jul 15, 2013 9:18 PM GMT
    Really CJ?
    "If the first and foremost requirement for you is that you wear your "gayness on the cuff," then perhaps you should be selective in courting an employer."

    This is Canada. Are you inferring that corporations and professionals can't be trusted to be ethical here?