Hi. I’m gay. My name is Katrina and I’m still gay. We’re going to work together.

Unicorns.

Rainbow flags.

Ellen.

The big “secret” you have to reveal to everyone you meet. But they can look at you and tell, right? Not necessarily. Well, at least I can say I used to not be that obvious. With my short hair and wife, I could be cast on Orange Is The New Black. Yeah I said wife (that usually gets a double take, especially in the South).

That’s how it starts. A subtle hint at a wife instead of a husband. A gay bar. A parade. You have to do it. You have to come out to people all the time - especially at work. Whether you’re more of an “I’ll just put our picture here” or rolling out the rainbow carpet, it’s going to come up.

I find that most people fall somewhere between the two based on how long they’ve been out of the closet anywhere (let alone at work) and the gut check. There’s a bit of a gut check I do during the interview and before I’ll ever come out to someone at work.

Why the hesitation? I guess for me it’s a matter of someone knowing me for the quality of my work, not because I’m gay. If our relationship from minute 1 is about my gay-ness, I’ll eventually be known as the loud lesbian, not the loud all-star marketer that I am.

But here’s the thing. Nobody writes about coming out in the human resources industry; it’s taboo. You can’t ask a bunch of straight HR executives how it feels to be gay at work.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll keep writing about this topic - breaking down coming out to coworkers at different organizations, scenarios to help those of you who haven’t had such a great experience coming out to coworkers and even do a shout out to companies who are doing it right.

You should also know that means over the coming weeks we’re going to talk about sh*t that’s probably going to make you a little uncomfortable. That’s ok. We’re going to talk about people and places that make you feel good too. Speaking of feeling good, there will also be at least 1 Portia de Rossi reference because she’s worth it.

 

Stay Tuned. 

Views: 1179

Comment by Tyson J. Spring on July 8, 2014 at 10:09am

I don't think Unicorns are up for grabs.  I mean, you can have them on your team, but I'm not really to concede all unicorns just yet.  Nothing against your team, I just like unicorns and don't want to live life without them.

Unicorns aside, I see where you're coming from.  I mean, you're the one dealing with it so who am I to say that it's a non-issue?

Re: #4, if sex is taboo, than wouldn't it be irrelevant whether it's gay sex or heterosexual-sex?  Sex is not to be discussed among HR folks. Period.  That probably goes for Gay Sex, Straight Sex, upside down sex, sex on the discovery channel, sex is not to be discussed among - or in the vicinity of- HR.  

From an entirely different angle, call it an analogy: If baseball is not to be discussed in a football locker room, coaches rule and you could get benched from the upcoming game by talking about baseball because to the football coach- baseball is taboo, wouldn't you also assume that the act of pitching, as it pertains to baseball, is off limits to talk about?  Pitching is not more taboo than baseball as a whole, it's just part of baseball that can't be talked about in this fictitious locker room. 

What I'm saying is, is it possible that you've decided that everyone who's in HR and not gay finds Gay Sex taboo and you're projecting on people, when all they're doing is policing their sexual harassment policy? This is not entirely uncommon for anyone who has concerns about being accepted for one reason or another. Just throwing it out there. 

 

Comment by Amber on July 8, 2014 at 11:50am

I think it is hard to say it should or should not be "discussed". Most people in what are considered the "mainstream" relationships don't have to really ever think about it, and probably don't hesitate to make comments like "my wife and I ate there last weekend", etc. with nary a thought. However, I think those in "alternate lifestyle" relationships DO hesitate or do NOT make comments like that. 

Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on July 12, 2014 at 7:13pm

Thanks for sharing your perspective on this important & timely topic, and I look fwd to reading more about your experience. I'm a strong advocate of diversity in the workplace and support equal rights for people regardless of sexual orientation - including the right to marry & adopt children. In an age where we're demanding authenticity & transparency, I don't think anyone should feel ashamed of who they are.

Yet I have to confess the whole idea of "coming out" at work seems unnecessary. People don't "come out" as straight, or celibate, or as virgins, or as swingers for that matter. Perhaps the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy" is a good one for business in general. Sexual orientation is more like religion than race, which is obvious, and we don't go typically announce our religion during a job interview or day one when we start a new position. Yes there may be hints, like wearing a Jewish star or crucifix necklace. But I don't appreciate people waving their religious beliefs around the office - even while I uphold freedom of speech & religion. There's a time & place for political statements, and that's not during business hours.

Our private lives are private; just be yourself. I'm not suggesting hiding out in the closet - I just don't get the need to wave sexual preferences in everyone's face. Perhaps GLBT people might get more respect by just focusing on the work at hand so those not so accepting will feel more comfortable & maybe more inclined to tolerance when the truth reveals itself. Your friends & co-workers will learn whatever they need to know in due course as they get to know each other - otherwise as Billie Holiday would say "ain't nobody's business."

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