On the Job

Questions to Consider

How important is it to me to be out?
How will I come out on the job?
How should I handle homophobia on the job?
What are some additional resources I can use?

How important is it to me to be out?
The extent to which you incorporate your sexuality and gender in different aspects of your life is an individual decision which may change based on situational circumstances. For some individuals, being out is a part of who they are. Others may view their sexuality and gender as only a small part of what defines them as a person. Consider the following:

  • Are most of your friends, peers and support networks LGBTQ?
  • Are you active in any LGBTQ organizations?
  • Do you enjoy going to LGBTQ events?
  • Do most of your friends and family members know that you are LGBTQ?
  • If you have a partner, is he or she out in most situations?

Based on your answers to the above questions, consider how out you want to be in your job search and at work. If the statement, “being out is who I am” describes you best, you might be most comfortable targeting LGBTQ-friendly employers. If the statement, “sexual orientation is only a small part of what defines me as a person; I prefer to be selective with whom I tell and don’t tell” sounds more like you, you may decide to lean toward LGBTQ-friendly organizations but explore other organizations as well. Finally, if the statement, “I am not comfortable sharing this information about myself” fits you best, whether you seek out LGBTQ-friendly employers or not, it is ultimately your decision who you out yourself to and when.   Remember, no matter what your decision, it is yours to make...and you can always change it in the future.

How will I come out on the job?
There is no one right way to do so. Even if you disclosed your sexual orientation or gender identity on your resume or in an interview that information will not necessarily be shared with your coworkers or supervisor. When considering coming out on the job:

  • Assess your readiness
  • Perform at your best - focus first on the job at hand and establish yourself as a professional
  • Conduct a trial run - chose someone who you have reason to believe you can trust to be accepting and come out to that person first
  • Check your expectations – what kind of reaction do you hope to receive? If the risks outweigh your hopes for an ideal reaction from people you tell, you may want to delay sharing this or be prepared for negative responses from others.

In the end, of course, your level of disclosure is your decision and should always be guided by what is most comfortable for you.

How should I handle homophobia on the job?
While attending Binghamton, you may find a supportive environment with friends, clubs, and activities designed just for you, but the real world may not be as supportive.  It can be easy to find support if you encounter a problem on campus, but at a job, it may not be as easy to identify the resources or people that can assist you.

It is very possible that you will experience forms of homophobia in and out of the workplace.  Types of homophobia you may encounter could be religiously motivated, ostracism, or general ignorance.  Preparing yourself with coping strategies as well as protecting yourself is vitally important.

First of all, realize that you cannot change the minds of others nor is it your responsibility to change them.  You may, however, feel the need to educate or bring awareness to the topic.  There are no right or wrong answers in how to respond to homophobia.  Most importantly though, is your personal reaction.  Consider healthy ways of de-stressing such as exercising, talking to a counselor or trusted friend, or joining a support group.  If the homophobia becomes threatening, abusive, or is too much for you to handle, it is time to exercise your rights and perhaps find a more supportive environment in which to work.  You may want to bring your situation to the attention of the affirmative action officer within your place of employment who can advise you as to your rights and how the organization will respond to the situation.

What are some additional resources I can use?

Out in the Workplace? A Guide from the University of Pennsylvania Career Services - This guide written by Career Services counselors offers advice about coming out during the job search process and in the workplace, in addition to resume writing and interviewing tips.
http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/LGBTguide.html

Lambda Legal – National LGBT civil rights organization; web site includes information about workplace discrimination cases.
http://www.lambdalegal.org/

Coming out at work! – Advice from the business editor of Gay.com.
http://www.gay.com/business/article.html?sernum=61

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates – Non-profit organization based in San Francisco that discusses LGBT workplace issues.
http://www.outandequal.org/

Pride at Work – AFL-CIO group that seeks to integrate LGBT concerns into the larger Labor Movement.
http://prideatwork.org/

Federal Globe – LGBT organization that represents the interests of federal employees.
http://www.fedglobe.org/home.html

Transgender Law & Policy Institute - Dedicated to engaging in effective advocacy for transgender people.
http://www.transgenderlaw.org/

National Center for Transgender Equality - Dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration, and empowerment.
http://transequality.org/

Human Rights Campaign - Resources in the workplace for LGBT people.

http://www.hrc.org/resources

Resources Available in the Fleishman Career Center
Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage
The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender People
Lavender Road to Success: The Career Guide for the Gay Community
Straight Jobs, Gay Lives
Poisoned Ivy: Lesbian and Gay Academics Confronting Homophobia
Sexual Orientation in the Workplace: Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals & Heterosexuals Working Together

The website of the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development at Binghamton University contains links to other websites as a convenience for its users and is not responsible for the contents of any linked site.

Last Updated: 6/27/14