How do I become known as "openly gay" to my employer's management? I am a 33-year-old gay man. I do not, nor do I want to, talk about my personal life at work. Even if I did I am not now and haven't been in a serious, long-term relationship for many years. So, I have no pictures to put on my desk of a boyfriend or husband.
I work for a wonderful, progressive and fair-minded company. They are fully committed to women's and LGBTQ rights. Recently an impressive gay man was promoted from my department to Senior Management. At company events, he brings his husband. When he was selected for the position the announcement proudly and accurately stated he was the first "openly gay" person to serve in the job. At his promotion ceremony, reference was made to CEO Tim Cook of Apple and former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning for them to being the first "openly gay" people to lead their organizations.
My performance reviews are excellent. I'm sure though since I've given them no reason to believe otherwise, human resources and senior management see me as a cis, straight, white, male. What is the effective and ethical way to "announce" my gayness at my job?
Guy Against Yelling Sexuality
Being "openly gay" at work isn't that hard. All you gotta do is... tell someone at work, anyone at all, that you're gay. Word will spread. If word doesn't spread—if you accidentally come out to the one person at work who doesn't indulge in office gossip—tell someone else. You don't have to sit your coworker(s) down down, parent-style, and come out to them formally, hand them a box of tissues, and refer them to nearest PFLAG chapter. All you gotta do is casually drop some low-stakes personal info about yourself into conversation, GAYS, without drama, without hesitation, and without yelling. ("My boyfriend and I are going to a gays-only screening of Wonder Woman this weekend." No boyfriend? "I have a date with this weekend with a guy I met on OKCupid and I could use a restaurant recommendation." No date? "My friends are coming to town for Gay Pride this year." No friends? Not being out at the workplace isn't your biggest problem.)
Straight people out themselves in this way without hesitation. They talk about their personal lives at work; they mention dates, spouses, marriages, anniversaries; they're constantly shoving their heterosexuality down everyone's throats. But since "straight" is the default assumption until someone says they're gay, straight people aren't telling people something that hasn't already been assume about them, so the news doesn't come as a shock. It barely even registers. It slips right down all of our throats. They're just being themselves. Do the same.
Again, GAYS, coming out at a wonderful, progressive, and fair-minded company is pretty simple. You just gotta say. Reference a date you once went on with another man when a coworker talks about their bad Tinder date. If a coworker talks about their partner, casually mention one of your old partners who happened to be a man. You don't need to gab over Slack about which lubes are best for anal sex or reference your relationship woes ("My new guy is great but he's into heavy CBT and my balls are killing me!") during a quarterly presentation to be out at work.
For better or for worse, GAYS, we live in a country of corporations. When giant, household-known brands take pro-gay public stances (like Target on gay marriage) you could argue that they help to change public perception... or you could argue that the corporation sees change happening and wants to claim a sliver of credit for driving that change (so they can, duh, profit from it). And plenty of corporations have professional support/networking groups for gay employees. While groups like Glamazon are controversial on both the far right ("Get your gays out my corporation!") and far left ("Get your corporation out of my gays!"), these groups help shape a company's culture. But you don't have to participate or organize or carry the weight of the entire LGBTQTSLFNBQGQIA+++ community on your shoulders if things like "cross-corporate social events" give you the heebie-jeebies. You're a gay man, GAYS, whether you chat about it every day or never bring it up—except for that one time, when you gently slipped it in, maybe with the aid of a social lubricant (over drinks at a work function?), so that people would know.