Coming Out Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered at Work
By Mark Swartz
Take a look at Kathleen Wynne, the first openly gay woman who became Premier of Ontario; International super star Ricky Martin; NBA veteran Jason Collins, who just marched in Boston's Gay Pride Parade; actor Zachary Quinto, or american journalist and CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper: each of these people came out publicly.
Can you tell who's gay and who's not?
What about Oscar?
Well, he is.
Well, he's not dressed in women's clothes, so...
If you are straight (heterosexual), are you afraid that people at work will find out? Not really. Do you cringe at the thought of co-workers treating you differently because you are straight? That maybe they’ll start ugly rumours and you’ll get passed by when it comes to promotions and raises because you’re straight? Straight people just don’t ever have to think of the possibility of being discriminated against because of their sexuality. It’s a phenomenon called Heteronormativity and it’s everywhere, especially at work.
Now younger Canadians are far more likely to say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender at work, than older Canadians, with 10% of those aged 18 to 34 answering the question with a “yes,” compared to 2% or 3% in the four older age categories.
“My generation didn’t come out until at least university,” said politician, Kyle Rae, 58. “Today, people are coming out in high school, if not grade school.”
- Make sure you’re emotionally ready to be known as your genuine self
- If there are other people “out” in your workplace already, maybe seek their confidential guidance in how they approached their own announcement
- Know your employer’s policies. Do they have special resources (groups such as Scotiabank’s Scotia Pride, a confidential helpline, intranet information) that could assist you?
- Think about how others at work might react. If you work in a place that is overrun with bigotry and small-mindedness, consider laying low until things open up more
And so much farther than when the simple act of being gay was – shockingly – a criminal offence punishable by death (until 1869 in Canada). Hopefully in the near future being LGBT at work will be mainstream, merely one more reason to pay tribute to diversity.
Now we celebrate that ten years ago, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark became the first gay couple to be legally married in Canada, that was in 2003!
In the end it does not matter how or when do you come out. You will know when the right time comes and not only you will feel relieved but proud of it!