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Author Topic: Coming out: how and why?  (Read 111888 times)

Offline mountain boy

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Coming out: how and why?
« on: February 07, 2006, 09:05:07 AM »
We've decided to broaden this thread to coming out in general. We pose the following questions for your thoughts.


1) In an effort to be seen, is it imperative that we all come out?

2) Does  the manner in how we come out affect others' views of our community?

3) Is it our duty to help others who are struggling to come out?

4) Should those individuals who are not out be treated any differently?

5) Do you consider yourself out?  If you do, where are you out?


Quote
Some interesting discussion came up in the "Were they gay" thread about coming out in the workplace. It seems like a pretty interesting topic so I'd like to invite discussion here.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2006, 07:09:27 PM by estefue »

helen_uk

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2006, 09:11:18 AM »
Thanks wdj, good place.  Just copying a couple of my  posts over:

The conversation sounds unfriendly toward coming out - I'm disappointed.

I'm surprised you don't realize you talk about your sexuality 100% of the time by wearing a wedding ring. You have pictures of your spouses and children at your desk. You write down their names and your boss reads them and you get insurance coverage for them.

I guess you can't imagine how oppressive it is to watch even you - our best allies - talk about your lives all the time and expect gordonleo and me to shut up.

When we go years without saying anything about our lives, people think we're creepy.

I am amazed that these things even have to be mentioned with this group.


 :(  Personally I don't expect people to not talk about their lives in a natural way.  I am all for everyone feeling able to chat about their lives, and doing so.

"Morning John, have a good weekend?"
"Yeah, great thanks, me and my boyfriend went to that new pub that's just opened."

or having a picture of your 'spouse' on your desk

etc etc

is vastly different to going to your boss's office and saying

"I just want to let you know I'm homosexual."

For me, it's the latter I just don't get.   I've already given my reasons, and am hoping that my understanding can be furthered by someone saying why they believe it is necessary to make such a statement in that manner, rather than just letting things come out organically.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2006, 09:13:23 AM by helen_uk »

helen_uk

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2006, 09:12:46 AM »
Why not tell your boss? Is it something to be ashamed of? I think that was the import of the question. Also, it might be good for the work place to know so that one's coworkers can avoid making casual homophobic comments.

Because it has absolutely no relevance to my job or my ability to do my job.  I would no sooner tell my boss that I was bisexual than I would tell them any other personal information about myself that I wasn't required to.

And if I were a boss and one of my employees came to me and told me they were gay I'd be just as perplexed.  I wouldn't give a shit, and would wonder why they felt the need to tell me something that was so irrelevent to their job.

helen_uk

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2006, 09:20:14 AM »
he is experiencing on this board the rejection and disapproval that he feared from his boss.

Not from me he's not.  I am confused and asking for clarification.  Absolutely no rejection or disapproval at all, just puzzlement.   ???
He's being told that what he did was not appropriate. That's rejection enough for me.

He took a step in the way that he needed to do it. Rather than dropping a line in a casual conversation and waiting until the next employee evaluation to see if it had negative repercussions, he went directly to his boss and said there's something I need to talk with you about that has a bearing on how I feel in the workplace.

What kind of thing would come up, do you think?  And how would that differ if a person had 'come out' in a different way?

I wish gordonleo were here, I feel like we're talking about him behind his back.  :(


Offline CellarDweller115

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2006, 09:40:08 AM »
I came out at work about 3 months after I was hired.

I walked into the office with a denim jacket, and a few gay pride pins on it.  After that day, everyone knew I was gay, and I had no issues with anyone.

And while I am currently single, I am fortunate enough to work for a company that offers benefits and health coverage to same sex partners of employees.

Offline vertimus

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2006, 10:40:50 AM »
Again, everyone, I'm for what ever works for the individual on a case-by-case basis. There's no uniform way that's going to work for everyone. And there are so many potential viables involved. 

Personally, I don't feel like declaring myself from the pulpit, or wearing, as I said, a sandwich-board sign around my neck declaring my sexual identity. I don't see the point in stressing the way I'm different from the 'average man' and identifying myself to my coworkers by my sexual nature.

Of course, it depends on many different things, like where you live regionally, what kind of job you have, and where you are in your own sexual identity journey. 

Since I have faced far more antagonism from hardline gay men at work over the years than from heterosexuals, I'm against, of course, people 'outing one another' anywhere, at any time.

I'm for the rights of the individual over the 'rights' of the masses, or the 'cause.'

Offline SquallCloud

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2006, 11:31:46 AM »
Again, everyone, I'm for what ever works for the individual on a case-by-case basis. There's no uniform way that's going to work for everyone. And there are so many potential viables involved. 

Personally, I don't feel like declaring myself from the pulpit, or wearing, as I said, a sandwich-board sign around my neck declaring my sexual identity. I don't see the point in stressing the way I'm different from the 'average man' and identifying myself to my coworkers by my sexual nature.

Of course, it depends on many different things, like where you live regionally, what kind of job you have, and where you are in your own sexual identity journey. 

Since I have faced far more antagonism from hardline gay men at work over the years than from heterosexuals, I'm against, of course, people 'outing one another' anywhere, at any time.

I'm for the rights of the individual over the 'rights' of the masses, or the 'cause.'

Indeed. I just don't understand why anyone would feel that not telling everyone you know - appropriate or not - that you are homo/bi whatever is seen as being anti-coming out? I wish the original poster would come back. I really want to hear his side. I'm not being pissy or judgemental. I'm just perplexed.

Offline mountain boy

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2006, 11:39:54 AM »
What kind of thing would come up, do you think?  And how would that differ if a person had 'come out' in a different way?
The setting I work in is very gay friendly - although we don't have domestic partner benefits - but there are settings where one might not be sure what to expect, and many where there will be active negative repercussions.

It is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay. The US military is a good example. And even if it's not perfectly legal to kill or beat someone up, you're a lot more likely to get away with it under the legal system if your victim is gay. Again, the US military is a good example.

If I were working in a place like that, I would rather go directly to my boss for a clear and private discussion about it. That way she has to respond within whatever human resources guidelines there may be to protect me from discrimination.

If my company doesn't happen to have such guidelines, then yeah, I may be screwed. But if I have concerns that there may be reprisals, I at least want the option of talking with my boss about it in private, rather than having it come up in an office conversation, without it being thought of as weird.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2006, 02:04:48 PM by wdj »

Offline Lola

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2006, 11:48:31 AM »
I can't really add anything that I didn't say over in the other post, except to say I agree with helen_uk

And yes I wish gordonleo would come back.

I was an HR manager for years and like I said unless it was "job related" somehow, to do with benefits etc.  I would have been stunned if someone had walked into my office and said "I just want to let you know I am a homosexual" 
 
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Offline happycamper

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2006, 11:51:19 AM »
If you are in a relationship then you have to try pretty hard not to come out when asked questions like (as a woman):

What does your husband do?
Who's watching the kids?

Likewise, when it comes time for the holiday party, are you going to go and bring your partner/date? What if your boss, whom you are not out to, makes it a requirement that everyone in the group attend the holiday party? Do you go alone and pretend that you are single? Or bring your spouse and feel like you are making "a statement".

Believe me, people who come out at work are not trying to throw it in anyone's face. I think that it is hard NOT to come out. I could see how you would want to explicitly tell your boss if you had told others so that they wouldn't hear it from someone else and/or so that you would know for certain that they knew.

I am out to one of my co-workers, but not the others. I thought the grapevine would take care of things, but apparently he is more tight-lipped than I gave him credit for. My boss has been a bit inappropriate at times about other stuff, so I am not planning to tell him.

Offline mountain boy

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2006, 11:53:11 AM »
I was an HR manager for years and like I said unless it was "job related" somehow, to do with benefits etc.  I would have been stunned if someone had walked into my office and said "I just want to let you know I am a homosexual" 
What if they were feeling unwelcome in the workplace? Either because people were homophobic, or because people thought they were anti-social because they wouldn't talk about their private lives?

Among my friends this is the pervasive experience of gay men and lesbians in the workplace, with only a few welcome exceptions. It's hard to believe an HR person would not have been confronted with that.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2006, 11:57:02 AM by wdj »

Offline Lola

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2006, 12:17:48 PM »
I was never confronted with that, ever!

If there was a "situation" then I would want to hear about it, like I would want to hear about any situation.

Believe me gay people in the work force were the least of our problems at work, it was never an issue.

and happycamper you asked:

What does your husband do?   you tell them what your SO does

Who's watching the kids?  you answer, if you have kids!


Likewise, when it comes time for the holiday party, are you going to go and bring your partner/date?


YES you bring a date!

What if your boss, whom you are not out to, makes it a requirement that everyone in the group attend the holiday party?


You don't have to out yourself, you just show up with your SO!

Do you go alone and pretend that you are single? no of course not


 Or bring your spouse and feel like you are making "a statement".  NO statement, you are just there to have a good time like eveyone else.






 
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Offline happycamper

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2006, 12:33:18 PM »
and happycamper you asked:

What does your husband do?   you tell them what your SO does

Who's watching the kids?  you answer, if you have kids!


Likewise, when it comes time for the holiday party, are you going to go and bring your partner/date?


YES you bring a date!

What if your boss, whom you are not out to, makes it a requirement that everyone in the group attend the holiday party?


You don't have to out yourself, you just show up with your SO!

Do you go alone and pretend that you are single? no of course not


 Or bring your spouse and feel like you are making "a statement".  NO statement, you are just there to have a good time like eveyone else.
Hi Lola, the point that I was making is that some straight people feel that you are making a statement by coming out to them, but it is pretty hard to avoid coming out unless you lie or avoid any non-work related interaction, which is hard to do, given the above common situations.

Offline Lola

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2006, 12:45:58 PM »
Well this straight person doesn't feel that way.   :) There were quite a few people at our workplace that were gay, there was never any outing, it just came to be public knowledge and when they came to company functions they brought their SO.  If they talked about their weekend, they talked about their SO.

Just like if someone was in a bi-racial relationship, that was something we found out in time, or if they had a very young wife or if they were divorced or had a handicapped child, or ailing parents, or a drunk for a husband, lol  all things you get to find out about people..........in time.   And again, things that unless they affect their job, don't affect the employees or the employer.

 
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helen_uk

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Re: Coming out in the workplace
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2006, 01:00:28 PM »
the point that I was making is that some straight people feel that you are making a statement by coming out to them, but it is pretty hard to avoid coming out unless you lie or avoid any non-work related interaction, which is hard to do, given the above common situations.

I'm not straight, but if someone came up to me and said "I just wanted to tell you I'm homosexual," then, yes I would think they were making a statement.  If, however, I was chatting to a man, asked him what he did at the weekend and he replied that he'd been doing something or other with his boyfriend then no I wouldn't think that was a statement.  It's just ordinary conversation.  Yeah, he would have 'come out' during the conversation but so what?  I don't care one whit what anyone's sexuality is.  I'd be as interested in what he got up to with his boyfriend over the weekend as I would with any other person.