Author Topic: Coming out at work  (Read 720 times)

Offline LBQwomenchat

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Coming out at work
« on: Aug 17, 2017, 07:15:17 PM »
Heya,

Do you come out as lesbian/bi at work, or keep your sexuality to yourself? And why? If you did come out, how did your employer and your colleagues respond?

Thanks!

Charlotte, from the Women's Programme


Offline Blythe

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #1 on: Aug 17, 2017, 07:54:22 PM »
Yes I have. I'm a primary school teacher and all my colleagues chat about their partners and I'm damn well not going to NOT chat about mine. Sometimes new colleagues or visiting supply teachers look a bit shocked that I'm so open.
I also tell pupils and parents if and when it comes up. I talk to my 7 year old pupils about being to marry whoever they want and often they are surprised, I just matter of factly tell them that they don't know who they will fall in love with yet, and ask them if it would be fair for me to not be allowed to marry the person I love if I want, and they always say it wouldn't.
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Offline Lust for Life

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #2 on: Aug 18, 2017, 12:51:28 AM »
My newest boss has known me as one of the (lesbian) mothers of our youngest since he started school at one of her previous jobs, 7 or 8 years before hiring me.

It's nice not to have to come out to a new boss, this has happened once before when I was taken on somewhere after being a volunteer first. Again, they knew me as a parent of a child at their school. Being a lesbian mother is a strange combination of being invisible as a lesbian and being totally out, whether you like it or not, depending on the circumstances.

I am usually out at work anyway. Sometimes it takes people ages to hear what I am saying - some people assume they have misheard when I refer to my partner as She. Which can be a nuisance as it makes an actual announcement necessary sometimes.


Why am I out at work? For the same reason as that I am open about where I come from, whether or not I like particular food, what makes me laugh or cry. It's just a part of who I am. If I wanted to hide who I was I'd have to hide from the world, full stop. I know it's not actually a strange question, but the more I think about it, the weirder it seems. Not being open about who you are is extremely stressful, in my experience. A long time ago I as persuaded by my then partner not to be out at work, and before that I worked for my parents as a teenager and was not yet out. It made simple things complicated and I hated it.i hope I never have to live like that again.

How did my employer and colleagues respond? This makes it sound like it was a one-off event. Surely the question is how do your employers and colleagues respond? Being out means repeatedly coming out to new colleagues and employers. How can an out lesbian or bisexual woman ask this question? Is it because you are not out yourself, or because straight people ask this question a lot and you are repeating the question without thinking it through? (I know I've repeated dumb things for that reason at times, then later realised how dumb that was).

Offline the ganze metsieh

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #3 on: Aug 18, 2017, 02:23:17 AM »
I was out when I was unionized and not out when I wasn't.

See here for all the detail, http://queersurvivaleconomies.com/about/

(Hat tip to Grey who mentioned Amber Hollibaugh the other day.)

Offline Grey

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #4 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:58:51 PM »
I've been out for decades
I am a bit obvious
Years ago I came out at an Independent Living Center where I happily drove the van for just the best clients some of who cried when I was summarily fired 

On an Amber Hollibaugh note just for fun
I met her at a university class presentation where the public were invited
Amber was shuffling papers at the front and talking to a few of the young students and the professor before the talk began
I was quietly slipping into a desk at the back by the door and I watched as her Femme radar pinged and she tracked me across the whole room to where I was seated
It was really very impressive

Offline valerie

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #5 on: Aug 19, 2017, 03:08:55 PM »
I was a high school teacher, actually a nun, when Aniya Bryant in 1977 worked for the removal of all gay teachers.{ Actually, when I realized so many people were gay, I left the convent.} People were fired. I could not imagine doing anything but teaching. Teaching was an extension of myself, not a job.

My answer? NO.

However, in the early 90s, most of my friends caught on. By the time gay marriage was legal, I was recently retired & believe that I would still not come out to students. We have had straight and gay teachers accused of child molestation, thanks to Christian Right students. They would find a way to go into a classroom alone with the teacher & then accuse.  HEY, Trump is President. Quite a few people  here are  screwed up.
I will move to St. Augustine in less than a month. I will be with Sylvia and introduce her as my partner, but, gay is not something I must share. People will know. This is not an important personality feature.

 I am out of the closet on Facebook & approximately 1200 -1300 of my friends are former students.

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Offline LBQwomenchat

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #6 on: Aug 22, 2017, 07:56:29 PM »
Thanks for your responses everyone, it was really interesting to read about your experiences at different times and in different professions.

What do you think are the best things employers can do to make lesbian and bi women feel safe and supported at work - is it more an issue of good equality policies for you, or more to do with the atmosphere in your workplace?

Charlotte, the women's programme team

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Offline Lust for Life

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #7 on: Aug 23, 2017, 01:03:00 AM »
Atmosphere is crucial. If the atmosphere is already fine, the policies are just a back up. But if the atmosphere is not fine, then policies can do a little to help. At the end of the day it's a people thing. You can't change the way people think, but you can change the way they behave.

I was out at work in a big multi-national company with a lot of co-workers from various religious backgrounds. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers of positive (lots!) and negative (none!) reactions to the news that I was pregnant. I heard through the grapevine that one manager found it difficult to publically support, but he wasn't my line manager (different team) and he didn't let that show in his dealings with me at all. I think he behaved professionally and I appreciated that. Some people thought he shouldn't have let his feelings be known o any colleagues at all, but I didn't have a problem with that. If I bring the personal into work by bring visibly pregnant, I think people should be allowed to bring their personal response up in the workplace, as long as it's not widespread and not making my daily work difficult.

As far as I could gather, he said this in a small group, one of them blabbed, and in any case this gave those colleagues the opportunity to help him wok out how to deal with the situation. So this is a good example of how policies can help: those colleagues he shared his difficulty with were very clear that he would need to keep his feelings to himself in the workplace, and he did.

This was in the mid 1990s, by the way.

Offline Suzi

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #8 on: Aug 23, 2017, 11:59:22 AM »
I find it genuinely depressing that people still feel they need to protect themselves by gauging the atmosphere etc, before feeling comfortable to be completely relaxed and open about who they are. I'm not saying I don't understand, I just think it's really sad.

I am open, as is my girlfriend. I refuse to hide.

Offline LBQwomenchat

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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #9 on: Aug 24, 2017, 08:09:54 PM »
It is really sad, but I suppose it's more sad that we live in a society where we can feel like it is risky to be open about your sexuality. While many people's responses are great, there is still a risk of negative responses from unwanted jokes to discrimination and even violence. It is amazing to be open, but I understand why many of us feel the need to pick up on positive signals first.


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Re: Coming out at work
« Reply #10 on: Sep 02, 2017, 03:26:51 PM »
What goes on in my private life is not the business of anyone at work.   They do not know if I am divorced, gay, straight, bisexual or what do when I walk out of the doors at the end of the day.   I prefer it that way.
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