In an ideal world, the workplace is somewhere that you can be as open about your sexual orientation, who you are and what you do as straight people are. Sadly this isn’t the reality for many LGBTI people as they face being isolated, harassed or passed over for a promotion if they are open.
Research has shown how mental and physical health can suffer over time when you’re not able to express who you are. Fortunately many organisations are now taking homophobia seriously and many are making moves to create a safe and inclusive environment where people can express who they are openly, but there is still a very long way to go.
There are certain trades where ‘smoko’ consists of International Roast coffee and Four & Twenty Pies, where it may not be wise to talk about your partner performing Shirley Bassey numbers for a gay multicultural social group, so it’s always a bit of a juggling act working out whether your life will be more stressful pretending to be someone you are not, or dealing with the consequences of people knowing who you really are.
Before you come out, you might want to speak with your boss and gain their support. If your boss isn’t supportive and you work in a medium or large organisation, you have every right to take it to HR or the CEO. If you don’t get any joy there, you can complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commission. I was talking to the Commissioner recently who is very supportive of our rights in the workplace and has a vision of a ‘fair & inclusive’ Queensland which they are taking very seriously.
Management in your organisation may also benefit from LGTBI awareness training which can be provided by LGBTI specialist organisational consultants. It’s worth reflecting on what is best for you in the workplace and make sure that no matter what your needs are number one!