An Irish Lesbian's thoughts and observations…

Coming Out At Work


Recently I have found myself in a number of different work places through education, training and volunteering. The one thing these places all have in common is the fact that they all come with a certain amount of small talk. This small talk revolves around family life, nights out and general interests. You know, the usual stuff. My problem is that I’m struggling to decide either I should come out in these work environments to be honest. It’s not necessary for them to know but even a simple question like “What did you do at the weekend?” has the potential to make you squirm when there’s something you don’t want to reveal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally out usually and would never lie about my sexuality. I’ve even appeared in a local newspaper in relation to my sexuality! Being out and proud is not the question here – being accepted is. I’m afraid that if I come out in these work places that I may not be granted the same opportunities as others. Is that silly or justified? In Ireland religion still rules a lot of work places attitudes however with the marriage equality referendum in full swing it’s becoming apparent that a lot of people are completely for the equal treatment of same sex couples. It’s easy to come out in a work place which has policies in place that protect LGBT people against discrimination and prejudice. These work places automatically promote equality for all of their staff.

When the people in these workplaces are casually mentioning their families and husbands or wives I’m unsure either I should too. If I met the same people outside of these environments I would absolutely come out to them without hesitation but it feels like I’ve more to lose here. I think that I’m worried partially about being treated unfairly but also about being stuck volunteering in close proximity with someone who may develop ill feelings towards me because of my sexuality. I guess that’s their problem, not mine, but I just want to avoid any hassle.

I would love to tell them all about my wonderful relationship and about the happiness it brings to my life. My other half means the world to me and it upsets me that it isn’t easy for me to share every part of my life with everyone. If the marriage referendum passes with a yes vote then I would love to shout my joy from the rooftops and tell everyone how happy I am to now be able to marry the person I love and have the same rights as a heterosexual couple. I know that a workplace is a professional environment and revelations sbout my personal life shouldn’t be a concern at all but others can freely do it. Can I? What are your experiences with coming out at work?

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Comments on: "Coming Out At Work" (12)

  1. I’ll start by saying that I’m a heteronormative white dude, and I’ll try to check my privilege at the door. I’ve commented before on your blog, that I see a lot of parallels with the LGBTQ community and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. I can only speak from the purview of movements in the United States, and my own very limited experience of being marginalized as a class.

    I agree with other comments, and the Civil Rights movements have shown us, that marginalized people need to let people know about themselves. In psychology, there is a phenomenon known as the “Mere-Exposure Effect.” The short definition is that people tend to develop a comfort with a thing or person just by being around that thing or person. By merely being “out” and around these other people, any (real or imagined) differences will be accepted just because you are a good person. (I’ve read enough of your blog to know you are a good person.)

    Now, just as with the Civil Rights Movement, there are degrees of participation within the community or movement. Some, then as now, would tell you that hiding your sexual orientation would somehow damage the cause of equality of the LGBTQ community. I’m not suggesting you beat them about the head and shoulders with your “gayness,” but just (and this should be the way everyone acts) the best version of yourself. Haters gonna hate, but you’ll find that a majority of the people you encounter will treat you as a person, and not as a label.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As always Mark, you’ve opened my eyes to something new. “Mere-exposure effect” is something I hadn’t actually heard of before but it makes a lot of sense. It does seem that the general opinion of the comments I received here is that coming out is best if I want to do so. By coming out I may change someone’s viewpoint for the better or at least encourage them to be more accepting.
      Really the biggest obstacle is in my mind. I’m out and proud but the working world feels different.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I only came out to people at work when I was certain that it was an LGBTI friendly environment which were mainly my previous and present jobs. I’m hoping to make myself come out to people when I change jobs next time because I don’t want to pretend any more, but I’ll have to pucker up some courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with Kris and TLBTC. I’m out. Period. To everyone, everywhere, and consider it their issue and not mine if they have problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Little Butch That Could (TLBTC) said:

    With co-workers, I’m not concerned if they are LGBT friendly or not. I’m there to do a job, not be friends. If they accept me, fine, if not, it’s their problem not mine. This doesn’t mean we can’t respect each other on a professional level and be on friendly terms. This is all easier said then done. I say, trust your gut feelings. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Similar. It feel as if they somehow regard my relationship as “inferior” to theirs with their spouses. I definitely know they regards my dog child as a canine and not the child I know she is. It grates. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I usually take time to get to know my team before giving away any personal details.

    Liked by 1 person

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