Are You Out at Work?

Apparently some companies are establishing internal LGBT liaison coalitions comprised of both str8 and gay employees aimed at fostering a more gay-friendly, or at least gay tolerant attitude in their workplaces. God bless them, but I wonder, unless you work in a gay or gay friendly business or field how many people come out on their jobs without fear of recrimination. I’m talking about conservative outfits, and uptight, maybe even homophobic superiors. Are you or would you be open about your sexual orientation when faced with such situations? Would you even deny who you are if confronted?

It may sound like prehistoric times to those of you of Millennia generation, but back in the late 90’s at the height of my successful career as a senior PR executive in anything goes New York City, coming out would have unthinkable. I worked for as conservative an outfit as you can get, a Catholic health care system, and I know for a fact gay co-workers who I frequented with socially and who did not hide their identities at work were passed over or even pushed out.

It doesn’t matter what anti-discrimination policies are law or in a company’s personnel manual; if your very str8 boss or your boss’s boss suspects you’re gay; or maybe even is gay themselves, or may be angry if you’ve spurned their advances, no law or policy will completely protect you. If they don’t like you, they don’t like you, and it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to prove it was because you were different (or over 50 or black or a woman).

Interestingly, the guy I worked for, supposedly str8 as an arrow, hired not only me but two other people to fill management spots, one a gal, the other a guy, both of whom were also gay. We’d often meet for lunch to try to figure out whether Mr. F was gay friendly, a closet-case, or an astute executive who took advantage of career driven singles without the family responsibilities to keep them from working 60 hour work weeks.

So I’m curious. In these supposedly enlightened times:

Are you out at work? Why or why not?

Have you been the recent victim of discrimination or ridicule on the job because you’re gay? How did you handle it?

Does your company have a LGBT liaison coalition? Has it helped?

I’d like to know.

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