Being Gay in The Corporate World… Piece of Cake or Broken Peace?

The Closet:

So many people are still in the closet: so many Gay Executives, CEOs, simple Workers are married with kids. What is still so difficult for so many Gay people to hide? Is it that the society is still giving a hard time to Gay people?

I spent the first 22 years of my life in a closet and I can tell you that it is a very tight and dark place to be. When I decided to come out, it was a choice between giving up on myself or embracing who I was.

I remember what it was at the time to feel scared, to feel dirty, to feel ashamed of who I was. In the early 80s, it was still a big deal and in my case, my parents gave me more than a hard time. I had to go to hospital to see a Psychiatrist in order to be healed, I have been given ultimatums to return to normality, and I had to face lots of emotional blackmail…

Logically, people in their 20s or 30s should be more relaxed about their sexual orientation. In fact many people even young are still in the closet. For many of them, they are scared that coming out would damage their image or that their career would suffer. All together the image of Gay people is still not so positive for lots of straight people. In the corporate world it is not so easy either. You need to be strong and comfortable with who you are to face this reality. As we know, if you are not, people are going to feel it and press all your buttons.

Are you straight?

If you are straight and you think that you don’t know any Gay people? YOU ARE WRONG… You just don’t know that you know quite a few… It is not written on the fore head and all Gays are not walking like Naomi Campbell on the catwalk.

On the contrary, lots of Gay people have learned to be chameleons and to even appear straighter than straight people. It is a self preservation reflex for those who did not find the strengths to come out yet.

The difficulty here is that by definition Gay people are defined by their sexual orientation. Many straight people have a hard time imagining Gay people having sex. Who ask them to imagine anything, especially about their colleague or their boss? Do I automatically imagine straight people having sex when I meet them? Of course not!

I heard so many times the following question:”so, in your couple, who is active and who is passive?”This question is not acceptable. Sexuality is nobody’s business. So between telling and hiding, what is the right position? At the same time, if you are in a relationship, you are not going to hide it. Back at work on Monday morning, you are generally going to talk about what you did with your partner during the week-end.

For many straight people, working with Gay people is not a big deal. One of the most common statements from straight Males is:”as long as they don’t bother me, I don’t mind”.

They forget that usually gay people have good taste and that most of those guys are not really looking like Brad Pit.

Being Gay:

There are still far too many complaints from Gay people about bullying at work.

Unfortunately, even if things are getting better, there is a huge need of education in the work place to provide the minimum respect for Gay people and all minorities contributing to the richness of our society.

Even in 2012, people can be abusive without even realising it. When you are part of the majority, you see differences from a strong position. You think that you are open minded and that you tolerate differences. You can easily make jokes which are not malicious but can be a constant reminder for the person that he/she is different.

Because it starts already at school, many people imagine that perhaps it is ok to bully others because of their differences. Education starts from a much earlier stage in order to get some significant results in the work place.

A few years ago, I was working in a Retail Chain in France and I remember the comment of someone when I decided to bring my male partner to a company party.

She said: “You are really courageous to bring your partner”.

More recently, I was working as an Associate for an Advisory Company and the Boss told me: “I have absolutely no problem with Gay people: it is their choice”. I asked him to remember at what age he made the choice to be straight. I think that for many people, there is still a question of understanding what sexual orientation means. We are who we are and whether we have a different skin colour, a different body shape, a different sexual orientation, we are part of the society and we have the right to exist in peace and in respect of our differences.

Peace and Love:

Today, the main aim of my work, whether as an Executive Coach, Psychotherapist or Corporate Trainer, is to help people to become who they really are because I know that it is the quickest way to happiness. By the way, you don’t have to be gay to not be yourself. We have been educated and conditioned to be socially correct and there for to hide who we really are.

Nobody should ever feel ashamed of whom they are and scared to be who they are: it should be our basic right as a Human Being to live with dignity and respect from others.

I dream of a world where we could embrace our similarities and our differences in order to learn, to grow, to understand, to open up to the reality of what is means to be alive and what it means to be who we are.

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