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Coming out in the workplace is something that every gay person has to weigh in their mind. In the past, people have been fired, discriminated against, or disqualified from positions because of their sexuality. It’s hard for people to open themselves to that sort of prejudice. Even though we like to think that the modern-day is filled with understanding and compassionate people, that’s not always the case. Keep in mind these different ways that your career could be impacted by coming out.
Count on More Visible Support in Some Places
When you reveal that you’re gay to other people in your workplace, you could have a positive experience. Workplaces are becoming more visible with their support, taking part in Pride celebrations, and doing more to make their LGBT workers feel safe and recognized at work. Many gay men have come out and said that they got a better reception than they thought possible for coming out as gay. Workplaces are trying to signal others that they are better from a global standpoint, accepting all people regardless of race or sexuality. The company’s training will often focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, so you might just find that your business expects a little more from you. This can be a double-edged sword in that you’ll be asked to talk about your experiences in the workplace which can feel a little invasive. You may also find that you’re asked to head up workplace projects revolving around LGBT inclusion and topics, but that can lead to promotions and recognition that will benefit your career.
You May Not Get All the Promotions You Desire
Although you may find a company where you are welcomed for your unique insights into life, you may also find yourself at a disadvantage. Some businesses and entire industries are not as welcoming and accepting of gay people as they should be, and they reflect that in their hiring and promotions. You may get hired and then open up to a coworker and then find that you’re no longer considered promotable within your company. You may think it is a coincidence, but discrimination is often hidden beneath several sleazy layers of supposed policy, seniority, and sudden changes to performance reviews. It’s not unusual for businesses to back out of putting gay men in high visibility within their companies. That is just one of the many reasons that gay people and other members of the LGBT community tend to hide their sexuality. They know that companies have all but fired gay workers for not being good for the company’s optics. So, what should you do in this situation? It’s hard to say, but it’s a choice every gay person needs to make.
Company Policy Might Not Align with Your Coworkers
Although many companies say that they are dedicated to diversifying their workforces, it seems as though a vast number of businesses don’t follow through on recruiting unique individuals. Interestingly enough, many LGBT people find that they are the only person in their role that is part of the community. Some companies only have a few people of color, and even fewer of them are gay men or other members of the LGBT community. This is an example of company policy not reaching the ground level of the business. Many hires are still being made based on personal connections with the hiring managers or outright excluding people after a social media search has been performed on them. In other words, progress is being made, but it’s not quite there yet.
Inclusivity Is Getting Better but Has a Long Way to Go
The dream of working in a fully accepting and inclusive work environment is something that many gay men hold onto when they look for a new job. While many strides have been made in recent years, the truth is that society has a long way to go before gay people are afforded all the same opportunities as cishet men in the workplace. Implementing change is often a matter of pressure and time, where allies have to step up and start being the change they want to see in the world around them.
Gay men have an easier time in the workplace these days. At least, they have an easier time in terms of outright discrimination. Coming out as gay in your job can have a profound impact on your life. You might be the new face of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Conversely, you could become ostracized by your coworkers and passed over for promotions and other opportunities. Determining whether you want to come out is a process and an internal conversation. Explore your workplace, see what other gay men work with you, and see how they’re treated. If you feel safe in that environment, then come out and be happier for it.