Playing it Straight? Andy Garraway know itʼs not all itʼs cracked up to be…
“So, where do you live?”
My new colleague is quizzing me in a vague attempt to make conversation on my first day in the job. The adrenaline starts pumping as I rack my brain for how to answer.
“Oh, just in the city centre, yʼknow the so-and-so building” I reply, instantly realising this is bound to lead to further questions.
“Ahh, cool, who do you live there with?”
My deflection has failed and I start to panic. Should I bite the bullet and perform that mini-coming out ritual that is the constant (and infuriating) requirement of most LGBT peopleʼs existence, or should I try and brush off the questions?
I fluff it.
“Oh, just some mates from Uni”.
Right, thatʼs it, Iʼve just undone the past six years of being out and being in a relationship with a man. Iʼm back in my 17-year-old closet and I donʼt like what I’m seeing (why did no-one warn me about *that* waistcoat? Justin Timberlake I was not).
As you are reading this, the very same situation is occurring in offices across the UK. LGBT people faced with being honest about their sexuality and suffering the (possibly negative) reactions, or remaining firmly in the closet and dealing with the repercussions of hiding part of themselves.
I failed on this occasion, at least with this person. And I’ll be honest, I don’t always come clean.
On other occasions Iʼve just made a passing comment to my partner and used a ʻheʼ in the sentence – the penny dropped soon enough.
The general reaction once people realise my sexuality is one of surprise. Ok, so Iʼm no Sylvester Stallone, but I am masculine enough that people do not instantly mark me down as gay. Sure, when they see me running towards the club podium when 1D drops, theyʼll wonder how they ever doubted me but in the meantime this Team Sven member can hold his own with the rest of them.
That for me is the easiest option, making a passing reference to my “partner” gives me an almost below-the-radar way of coming out at work.
Single folk, donʼt despair, the same procedure works for casual references to guys/gals you fancy or for your ex. A confidently (and if needed, repetitively) dropped ʻheʼ or ʻsheʼ will soon leave even the most oblivious co-worker in no doubt as to your LGBT status.
For some, a more open “Iʼm gay, ok?!” approach works and for others, itʼs a quiet word with someone you know can be relied upon to get the word out. Really, whatʼs important isnʼt howyou do it, but that you do it! Weʼve spent too long coming to terms with our LGBT identities to be forced back into the closet by some people we may only see once a week around the water cooler.
Believe me, Iʼm talking from experience here. Coming out at work will lift that extra bit of weight off your shoulders thatʼs settled since you came out first time around.
Next time I’ve got a new job I will, for lack of a better wording, be telling it straight.
Stonewallʼs top 100 list of LGBT-friendly employers has just been published. Check it out here.
Other links that may help you:
Being Gay Is Ok – for young LGBTs