The unfortunate thing for us gays is that we have to keep coming out over and over and over again every time we meet new people. It’s tiresome! Because, contrary to popular belief, we don’t go around wearing rainbow T-shirts at every opportunity, all get the same haircut and alter our voices so we sound more gay. Furthermore, we don’t want to go shouting it from the rooftops either. It’s part of us, not all of us, and it certainly has nothing to do with our work or competency.
So, it’s pretty unlikely that when you start a new job you’re going to approach your co-workers, shake their hands and say, “Hi, I’m John and I’m gay!” People would think you’re a bit strange if you do that because, thankfully, nowadays nobody really cares about your orientation. But you will still have to come out at some point. As you become more friendly with the people you work with, questions will start to crop up such as, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Obviously, this is far from being the only reason to come out at work, but even if it’s just to avoid any awkwardness when these types of questions arise, you should probably come out when the opportunity arises.
See also: How to Develop a Diverse Workforce
If you identify as a member of the LGBTQ community and you want to come out at work, you probably want to do it in a more subtle manner than wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Nobody knows I’m a lesbian’ on dress-down day. So, here are a few ideas for coming out to your colleagues discreetly.
1. Tell a few people, the news will spread
We’ve probably all experienced this at some point in our lives. I know I did when I first came out to my peers at university and again at my first job after uni. The truth is that people talk. And it’s unlikely that they’ll tell other people that you’re a raving gay out of malice or just to be a gossip. Maybe they’re curious, maybe they find it genuinely interesting, maybe they respect you, maybe they fancy you and are gutted that they’re not going to be able to date you. Whatever the reason is, it’s likely that if you tell a few people, they’ll tell the rest and you won’t have to come out over and over and over again.
2. Casually mention your partner in a conversation
Even if you don’t mention your partner by name, using the word ’partner’ is bound to raise a few suspicions. But to make it absolutely crystal clear you could mention your ex or current girlfriend or boyfriend specifically. This is actually quite fun to do. Watch your colleague’s eyes widen as they register what you’ve just said and they try to carry on speaking as casually as possible.
3. Join in a conversation about hotties
If you’re a guy and the girls at your office won’t stop banging on about Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey, just tell them you think he’s a babe, too, and then they’ll know for sure. You could also simply mention that you’re queer when a relevant topic arises. Something will come up. For example, I live in Manchester which has a thriving gay village that welcomes everybody, whether they’re gay, straight or a robot sent from the future. So, when you get to talking about good bars in the city, it’s quite easy to drop in the fact that you’re gay.
4. Do it via social media
As soon as you start adding people from work on Facebook, they’re going to stalk you – that’s just how it is. They might spot that you’re ’Interested in Women/Men’ this way. Whatever your social media platform of choice might be, be it Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., you could share a few articles about LGBT topics – you could even share this article.
5. Be absolutely upfront
Maybe being discreet isn’t your style; how you come out is up to you and only you. You probably spent a long time hiding in that closet and you might just be sick of it. So, go ahead and let your colleagues know your orientation, bring up the conversation yourself if that’s more your style.
Being upfront can also mean simply answering their questions honestly without ducking away from the subject. So, when those awkward questions come up that we mentioned at the start, and Susie from accounts asks if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, don’t just say “No”, say “No, I’m gay, actually... you nosey so-and-so”. Joking aside, it can be that easy if you want it to be.
The important thing to remember when it comes to coming out at work is to just be your lovely self, be open, honest and sincere. Don’t worry about it; don’t make it into a big deal, because it’s not a big deal. If you were expecting a gay pride parade through the office in your honour, forget it.