The hush-hush, the stares and the judge mental eyes that follow people from the LGBTQ community in every walk of their life is a phenomenon prevalent across the world. People not confirming to the gender-binary are challenging the ways of the world in the most radical of the ways, and accordingly are they met with hostility and complete marginalisation. In such a scenario, it is not difficult to imagine why most people from the LGBTQ community remain closeted.
It is no surprise why coming out has become such a big deal- a threshold, a boundary of sorts- which only a few daring ones surpass. For the rest, it is a world of disguise and disappear, a life-long pretend game.
Even the most progressive office spaces that seem to be open and embracing any identity, might be far from encouraging individuals to come out. However, by being ignorant or unaware of these aspects, in many ways companies are not providing an equal platform for individuals from the LGBTQ community, and at the same time inhibiting people with great potential to contribute to their fullest.
If half your mind is always engaged in hiding your true self, it is bound to affect your work and productivity.
Coming out at work is also a greater challenge as compared to coming out to your family or any other group as this bears a direct consequence upon your livelihood and career. However, the cost of the closet is even greater and affects more than just your mental well-being. For instance, conversations become way more complex for people who haven’t come out yet because even responses to usual chit-chat questions like how was your weekend would need a cover-up to hide one’s truth and coming up with an appropriate lie.
If you are planning upon coming out at office, we couldn’t be more supportive of your decision. Although there is no right or wrong way to do it, here are a few things to think over and keep in mind that will ensure that you face lesser bumps in the way.
- What are the risks you are running by coming out at work? It is always better to calculate your risks and be ready for the worse. How will this affect your job and your career aspirations? Will people take you less seriously as a professional?
- A knowledge of the laws in your country regarding LGBTQ community and those around discrimination would make you feel empowered. Also take the time to go through your company policy on discrimination, health insurance, dress code etc. It will be handy in dealing with situation arising during the first couple of days after coming out.
- If your country does not have protection policies for the queer community, you can always advocate for the same within your company and ask them for the required policy changes and extension of protection.
- Before coming out to the entire office, it is always better to do it with a couple of people closest to you, not only for keeping an idea of the kind of reactions that’ll come in, but also to have some people on your side to support you.
- Do not ignore your mental health during the process and always be in touch with a therapist, ideally one who specialises in guiding individuals from the queer community. This will help you understand and navigate your emotions better.
- Familiarise yourself with the changes you see coming in your life- using a different name, switching to a different washroom, switching to a different dressing or anything else. Internalising it yourself first would make it easier to switch in front of the others.
As bumpy and intimidating as the road ahead looks to you, it will be your most liberating experience and a vital step in making the world a better place for the LGBTQ community.