Why Coming Out At Work Is Vital For You And Your Employer

A normal day at work will at some stage involve a chat with your colleague by the water cooler/ printer/ coffee machine as to what your plans are for the weekend. For most, this is a very straight (pun intended) forward conversation: “The wife and I are going shopping for a new sofa” / “I’m going out with the girls as my boyfriend is away watching football!” / “I’m taking the girlfriend away for a romantic weekend as it’s our anniversary.” However if you identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, (LGB) then these nonchalant conversations will have you filled with dread. Your first day at a new job will be made even more daunting: who do you put as your next as kin, what pictures do you put on your desk, and what do you tell them if they spot your wedding band. All of this is constantly running through your brain if you’re not out as LGB at work and what that’s actually doing is ensuring that you cannot be fully yourself and therefore be fully productive in your role. As the LGBT rights charity Stonewall advocate, “people perform better when they can be themselves” and I wholeheartedly believe that this is true.
As an openly out and proud femme lesbian at work, I slip under the radar of both the straight and gay community and experience ‘femme invisibility’ and the assumption of heterosexuality. I’ve experienced the scary moments of starting somewhere new and having to go through the whole process of every employee finding out that I’m gay (of course, the process never ends with inevitable turnover). I’ve sat with new female colleagues and had to listen to them talk (aka moan) about their boyfriends/ husbands and how useless they are at housework and all I can think about is how do I chime in and casually drop the lesbian bomb: “yeah my wife SUCKS at the washing too!”... Coming out is a personal choice, and some do choose to live their whole professional lives in the closet. Personally I’ve always lead by the mentality that I have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. The sooner they know that I’m gay the better. As living a lie can take its toll, even if for a couple of days. The longer you leave it to tell your colleagues, the more it seems like a bit secret you’ve kept from them...
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