Coming out can be scary. Queerness comes with many extraordinary experiences but also with many difficulties if you come from a conservative background. If you are a Gen Z like me, there is a 1 in 6 chance you are queer. Coming out is the reality for every queer person, and I believe that sometime in the future, we will not have to come out and that this will no longer be a problem.
As a young first-generation queer Indian American who grew up with desi parents in the Bronx, I can tell you that coming out is not easy when you come from a conservative family. The advice in this article comes from my personal experience and how I came out; coming out is not a universal issue, and not everyone will react the way my friends and family did. So without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn more about coming out.
1. Coming out is not just a private matter
The consulting firm surveyed 8,800 employees in 19 countries. The results show that 70% of LGBTQ+ employees say they came out within 12 months of being hired. It shows that it is more difficult to come out after this period. Two-thirds of respondents who did not come out during their first year never did.
Some question the relevance of coming out in the workplace, arguing that it is primarily a private matter. On this issue, the workplace inclusion movement is clear: being “in the closet” in the workplace means having diminished relationships with colleagues. “At the coffee machine, they have to think about changing pronouns, preparing the names of outings in advance, or changing the names of the bars we’ve been to that are too LGBT,” said Alexandre, a 29-year-old consultant at IBM, last year.
One figure supports this observation: 80% of LGBTQ+ “out” people say they have made friends at work, compared to 45% of people who are not.
2. To only a few colleagues
If you want to come out at work and are unsure about it, find some allies. There are sure things among allies: the rebel who doesn’t care about anyone (we know it’s a facade), the figure skating fan, the modern mother… And start sparingly…
Talk to people to find out how open they are. Your colleague who has been to Disney World 6 times may not be the most suitable person to become an ally. Having allies will allow you to take the next step less alone: bringing your favorite to the company Christmas tree…
3. To the HR department
Know that your best ally at work is the law. It may sound strange to say this, but it is, in theory, the guarantee that you cannot be subjected to anything because of your sexual orientation. And who “normally” guarantees the law in a company? It is the human resources department. You can tell them you are in a relationship or married to a man. It’s just another way to come out. And it has two advantages.
The first is that your boss will have absolutely no right to transfer you to countries where homosexuality is condemned. The other advantage is that the HR department may advise you not to say anything to your colleagues, taking into account your past experiences… That’s always a plus… Moreover, let’s salute the work of an association like the Human Rights Campaign, which works precisely to make HR departments aware of the discrimination that gay employees may encounter.
4. To everyone
If you’ve decided to tell everyone you’re gay, you must be sure. Just in case… In case homophobes are hiding in your company. In any case, they don’t have the right to make a remark to you: it’s considered harassment under the law. In any case, there are many ways to come out. You can innocently say, “Last night, my boyfriend and I were watching…”.
It’s clear and doesn’t generate a direct response. You can also play the “official announcement” game. Beware of the cold shower effect of “So what? Finally, you can be a little more “subtle”. Wear a Mylene T-shirt on Monday, Tom Daley on Tuesday, and rainbow socks on Wednesday… All these clues can speak for you!
Come out when you are ready, and don’t do it if you feel unsafe and if you feel that your parents will disown and throw you out. You are the only person you will go to bed with at the end of the day, so put yourself first. You matter, and you are loved for the person that you are. By being more open about your sexuality, you are also making it easier for the next generation to come out, and this makes their life easier.
So be the change you want to see in the world. Whatever you decide, be safe and if you are searching for someone to talk to, then comment below. Sound off in the comments section below, and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about coming out at work.