Why gays should come out at work
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2011-07-01 16:32:00
Tags: essay gay work
Words: 262

David sent me a link to Why gays should come out at work and I almost broke my neck from the vigorous agreeing that followed.

When I started at NI in 2003, David in I weren't out in general, and so I was naturally closeted at work. This was isolating - people asked if I was single or not, and so I said I was single. And then when people asked what was I had been up to last weekend, I would have to leave out things or outright lie.

It probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was very uncomfortable at the time, and made me feel dishonest because, well, I was being dishonest!

Even after we did come out to friends and "the world", I felt like it was weird to come out to coworkers, like I'd be making too big a deal out of it. (and I was still fairly uncomfortable with it myself) So I continued to be closeted at work until I left the company in 2006.

Of course, the reason I left the company was that David got a job in Maryland. I wanted to be clear to my coworkers that that's why I was leaving, not because I was unhappy at NI or anything. So I ended up coming out at a group meeting and saying I was leaving. It was fairly terrifying at the time, although everyone was supportive.

Since then, I've been out at all of my jobs and everything's been fine. I even have a picture of David on my desk :-)


Comment from onefishclappin:

I will admit that I don't know anyone at my company who is out. Statistically, there obviously must be gay people at my company. I try to be as open/accepting as possible (stuff like openly talking about going to you guys' wedding or mentioning hanging out with gay friends). I think there's one lady who is gay, but she has never said anything definate (though there were plenty of easy opportunities). So the question for straights (who are pro-gay) is how can we help those closeted feel more comfortable coming out to us? (Note, my coworkers are now predominately Indian, and so if any(some) of them are gay, I suspect they are very deeply closeted for add'l cultural reasons. I have very few single American coworkers who I would consider likely closeted gay canidates.)

Comment from gregstoll:

Hmm, that's a good question. I would say Rule 1 is to "do no harm". If someone isn't ready to come out to you, don't try to force their hand.

After that, it sounds like you're doing well. Talking about being friends with gay people (and just mentioning it instead of a "some of my best friends are gay!" type thing) is definitely good. You're probably making her feel better, but she may be just unwilling to come out to anyone no matter what. Which is sad :-(

Comment from onefishclappin:

I know I've gotten some odd looks occasionally when I've openly mentioned gay friends (Talking about Kindles & I told the story about how you guys took an extra suitcase to Hawaii for your honeymoon to carry all your books ;) Or when we are talking about taking kids to weddings and I mention the only one Matthew has ever been to was for 2 guys. I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm going to do.
AMD is still a bit of a boys club; I think that might be subtley skewing things. I see it a bit from being one of the few women, and I know that when push comes to shove, everyone very much supports all of the women that work there. And that's been empowering to learn.

Comment from gerdemb:

Just curious, have you ever had a "bad" experience coming out to someone?

Comment from gregstoll:

To my knowledge, not really, although there have been some uncomfortable situations. But the number of people that I've come out to in person is not as high as you might think.

The advantage to coming out to people over email/en masse is that if someone really has a problem with it, they don't have to personally react but can just "fade away" and be nonconfrontational about it...

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