Sydney councillor Christine Forster has given her advice on how to come out as gay to your work colleagues.
Speaking on the Thinkergirls podcast, Forster explained to a listener who had started at a new job how to come out as gay to his colleagues.
Caller Jason explained he works as an industrial painter and said while he is very proud of his sexuality, the straight men he works with make him feel like he has to come out all over again.
Forster said he should start by having “one-on-one conversations with the people that you trust.”
“Once he’s out to one or two of his friends he will feel more comfortable,” she said.
To lighten the mood, Forster said it helps to make some jokes and approach the announcement with humour.
“Attack it on a broader sense with humour. Don’t be intense about it,” she said.
“If other people are uncomfortable, crack jokes and make light of it.”
Forster married her long-term partner Viriginia Edwards at a ceremony in Sydney in February, after the couple were high-profile “yes” campaigners during last year’s marriage postal survey.
But Forster said she still finds herself having to “come out” in new situations.
“It happens all the time. In some ways I had an easy ride because everyone knew who I was,” she said.
“In different places, workplaces, you have to do it all the time. It can be very uncomfortable.
“People now know that being gay is something Australia is okay with. I have physically noticed a difference [since the postal survey]. You see so many couples being demonstrative. The country has accepted us.”
On Lesbian Visibility Day last month, Forster called for more lesbian role models in different industries, pointing to only 14 women making Deloitte’s list of the top 50 LGBTIQ business leaders in 2016.
“The glass ceiling exists and it appears to be an even more insurmountable barrier for women who identify as lesbian,” Forster wrote in a blog post.
“And yet these are the women who most need to know they are not alone in their workplaces. They are telling us loud and clear that knowing there are other lesbian women in their organisations gives them the greatest sense of inclusion and engagement.
“It’s a simple thing, but promoting visibility helps breaks down stereotypes, builds respect and provides genuine support.”
(Top photo by Brent Wilson/ABC)