While progress has been made, a lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people still worry that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences. And who can blame them?
I envy the ones who are 'out' at work because they waste very little energy hiding aspects of their personalities, which means that they feel more confident and progress within the workplace. However, we cannot hide the fact that many still remain in the closet.
It’s 2018 and we have gone a long way, with young heroes like Olympic athlete Adam Rippon and pop’s Lesbian jesus’ Hayley Kiyoko headlining the march for equality amongst the young LGBTs, but despite these, there is still much to be done. Nowhere is this truer than the workplace and sad as it may be, the reality is, just because laws protecting LGBT rights are falling into place, doesn’t mean that people’s mindsets have caught up yet. Even if you think you’re surrounded by open minded people, you don’t know for sure until you’re out of the closet and it’s fair to worry about putting your job at risk.
Now, even though many companies are making a push for equality, of course not all workplaces are free of discrimination. This isn’t a perfect world after all. More often than not, LGBT employees are overlooked for promotions and raises, or worse, subjected to a hostile environment even in the workplaces with all the right policies in place. I strongly feel that LGBT workers in banking, finance and especially in politics, and not to mention the men in Service, which includes the Police, Army, Navy and Air force, and any of the traditionally “Male dominated” profession, feel that coming out is nothing less than taboo. Let’s focus on the more usual jobs that surround us, for now. As I feel that the discussion on the LGBT community within the men in uniform and politics is for another topic.
No doubt that coming out at work is a risk that could probably even cost you your job. I believe that the general concept of a gay employee wanting to come out is that: when a company place the most emphasis on the skill set that an employee brings to the table, then they feel more comfortable coming out. Keep in mind, though, that coming out at work is not an all-or-nothing decision as some people choose to come out initially only to selected co-workers or just to their manager, but others seek to be out to everybody. When you do, come out, you would be granted with less stress and more mental energy to devote to your work. These factors would help improve your overall job performance, which would often lead to a steadier career growth, better advancement opportunities and a more successful career, and not to mention the improvements in mental and physical health as well.
In conclusion, coming out, or not, and how you go about it is your choice, and your choice alone. The more people who get to know us as talented co-workers and company leaders, the less homophobia there will be in the world. But it’s worth noting that, if you find your workplace is not a supportive environment of the LGBT community, you should carefully consider whether you’re up for a fight to make waves and affect change. When you do decide to come out, always remember that No matter how confident you may be with your sexuality, you should nonetheless always be vigilant and look for signs of trouble. People are not as open minded as you think they are.
Lastly coming out, not just in the workplace but in general is not a one-time event. It doesn’t end when you admit your sexuality to your family, friends or co-workers. Coming out is a series of conscious choices we make every day.