Coming Out in the Workplace

If you have weighed the pros and cons and have decided to come out in the workplace, there are several ways to do so. Remember, even if you have come out during the interview, it is unlikely that this information was passed on to your co-workers or even your supervisor.

In general, as in all areas of your life, coming out on the job is an ongoing process. You do not need to spend your first day at work introducing yourself as "John, the Gay Accountant!" Most GLBT employees recommend that you focus first on the job at hand and establish yourself as a professional. Your primary purpose is to perform a job. Do that well, and the rest will follow.

You will find that people do talk about their personal lives while at work. Someone may directly ask you, "Are you married?" A reasonable response at the beginning of your process may be, "No, but I'm in a committed relationship," or "No, I'm dating, but not in a committed relationship." As you move through your coming out process, you can talk casually about how you spent the weekend. Using the term "partner" often signals people, so can talking about GLBT-oriented events. If co-workers have pictures of their family and friends on their desk or in their offices, you can include some of your own (but be ready for questions!). Many people find that once the "mystery" of your social life is revealed, co-workers will not make a big deal out of it. Some will be overly supportive, a few may be antagonistic, and the majority will simply accept you for the value of your work, not your personal life. If you have questions about the potential reaction of co-workers, you can ask for advice from a trusted supervisor, human resources professional, or GLBT co-worker.

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