GuysLikeU contributor Hadley talks about coming out at work!
Coming out can seem like the easiest thing in the world at times, but can equally feel as challenging as trying to grapple your way up the climbing wall of your high school. I know for some of you the climbing wall posed no challenges whatsoever. However, just imagine you’re me and your upper body strength is zero. Challenging indeed. Now that I’ve left that smelly school sports hall far behind and have recycled my PE kit into a 118 118 Halloween costume, the world of work awaits!
As somebody who spends half my time writing for LGBT publications (I also have a day job), you might be surprised to hear that I can find coming out challenging too. I think you can be the most confident and comfortable person in the world, yet can still have an Achilles heel. I often talk openly about my sexuality and discuss contemporary issues that are affected LGBT people, so am I somebody who can come out, carefree and confidently? I doubt it.
My Achilles heel is the workplace. Take me out of it and I think I’m pretty confident that most people around me don’t have an issue with me being gay. The workplace, however, is a different story.
I recently started a four week work placement outside of the UK. Differently language, different ways of doing things and new people. It’s a lot to get my head around. And as though my to-do list wasn’t long enough, coming out is that one item that seems to keep being missed every day.
I don’t think it’s an imperative to come out at work, but I feel that it is something that’s important for many people. Every time I read an article about somebody’s experience of coming out at work, they always discuss how coming out at work makes you feel happier and more productive. And the same can be said for life in general.
Read any coming out story and I doubt many will say they regretted coming out. But this isn’t coming out to your nearest and dearest, this is coming out to your colleagues, some of whom you may not want to be near and dear to.
As somebody who struggles with coming out at work, here’s some advice for anybody facing a similar dilemma. Don’t view it as ‘coming out at work’, but more as coming out again. Everybody goes about coming out in different ways, so go at it at your own pace. Tell somebody you can trust and who you think will have a positive reaction.
There’s no point in telling the person who stands at the coffee machine bitching all day long – that’s a disaster waiting to happen. You’re not guaranteed a positive reaction from everyone, but that’s also true in life. And if you are experiencing bullying in your workplace, have a read of your company’s policies on discrimination and talk about it with somebody outside of the working environment.
So I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m only here for four weeks, the snow-covered mountains or the severe lack of attractive men in this town, but I still don’t feel ready to come out at work. Perhaps I’ll drop it into a lunchtime conversation – it’ll spice up the topic of conversation from the broken coffee machine and elevated house prices.