Monday, August 21, 2006

And now for something completely different

This blog has been almost exclusively about my journey out of the closet as it relates to my family and my relationship with Mormonism. But over the past year, I have also come out at work. At first, I did so very selectively and quietly. But at about the same time I came out to friends through this blog in May, I also came out much more widely at the office. My entire team knows that I am gay, and I am now the editor of the newsletter of my firm's gay and lesbian professionals network. It has been a rewarding experience and the responses I have gotten from my colleagues have been overwhelmingly positive and affirming.

I came out at work for the same reason I have come out to others in my life--to be authentic and honest. But according to Time magazine, this also may have been a smart career move on my part.

Come Out. Move Up?


David said...

This is the best news I've heard all day. I'm happy for you.

Mike Kessler said...

Chris, I had a similar experience when I first came out. I literally got promoted twice afterward -- and I was working for a government agency. Turns out my straight boss said he owed his success to a succession of gays and lesbians, and wanted to "pay back". (I actually was already getting excellent reviews, but being gay just added to it.) And at my current non-government job, some of my coworkers came to the wedding reception for me and Buckley, and when I was sent on a two-week business trip to Paris, my boss pointedly told me that the organization would pay for accomodations and some expenses for Buckley. The other thing I notice is that people seem to trust me more -- not because I'm gay, but because I have the courage to be openly gay. (After all this time, for me it's not courage, just life, but to others, it seems like courage.) So I keep getting more responsible positions and I'm trusted with more "sensitive" tasks. If I'd known how my life would have improved professionally by coming out, I would've done it earlier.

Mark Ryan said...

I think alot of this article is valid. However, there is another un-touched upon side. In the three situations where I personally had to choose to promote an openly gay employee or an equally competent straight employee, in two of the instances I chose the openly gay employee simply to avoid a potential discrimination lawsuit.

Chris said...

mark ryan,

Did the gay employees you promoted threaten lawsuits, overtly or in a more subtle way? Or were you just being cautious/prudent?

Scot said...

What’s up with that? I had to leave my first job because of my boss’ vocal antigay stance. Every week it was another tirade. He didn’t know I was gay, but I still couldn’t stay there.

After that experience, I decided I’d never work for another boss that didn’t know up front what sex would be accompanying me to the company picnic. Finally, I started my own company and it stopped being a worry.

Still, just last month I was chatting with an undergrad about politics and a caucus I was involved in came up. He asked what it was and I explained it was a gay and lesbian caucus. “Your gay?” he asked.

He’d been working in the same lab with me for over a year. He had met my partner and our children. Twice! Never underestimate the power of assumptions :-).

Mark Ryan said...

I was just being cautious. One had been involved with a lawsuit in the past. If there was a difference in capability, the most capable would have gotten the job. When they are equal, why risk it.
Like I said, I agree with most of what the article has to say. I do however think there is a small (read again - small) percentage of gay/female/minority individuals that gain definate advantage due to potential problems if they are not chosen.
Even if you feel justified in your choice, and feel you would win in court if it came to that, it is at times not worth the money, the time, the hassle or the bad press.

Jed Eye Thunder said...

While working for an education association several years ago, I came out to my female supervisor. She is a fairly devout Catholic, but she said as best she could understand, some people are "just born to it." After that, we became closer friends.
Several years passed, and we both went on to other jobs. Eventually, she got a job as director of a department at the national headquarters of a major pharmaceutical association - and she recruited me into her division, where I have been for just over a year now. It is way (WAY!!) more money than I had ever expected to earn, and she's quite happy with my work. Besides that, she has commented to me on occasion that I am one of the few true, stable friends she knows. (Strange but true, I guess.)
Besides that, the advantage of being out at work - which I must assuredly am - is that I never feel I'm hiding anything or have to hide anything. It feels incredible. With all my female coworkers, this results in totally friendly and nonthreatening relationships; with my male coworkers, I sense a feeling of acceptance and honesty. Never feeling like you have to hide who you are is a terribly healthy and productive thing.