Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I work for a very conservative company that routinely fires gays and lesbians who come out at work. My boyfriend, who works for our local AIDS project, says I'm homophobic and living a lie and should come out at work even if it means losing my job. I don't know what to do. It's not like I make up girlfriends or anything like that, and I go out to gay events and parties. Besides, I love my job. I don't like the secrecy but other companies in the same business are not any better. What should I do?


I hope I can help, but I'm not going to tell you what to do, and neither should anyone else, including your boyfriend. I wish it was easy for everyone who is different to be open about their differences, but that's not the way the world works. There are occupations where job security and coming out of the closet are incompatible, and it sounds like that's your situation.

It concerns me that you don't say what you want. You are the only person who can know for sure if the benefits you get from the work you love are worth the price of being closeted at work. I suggest you consider the benefits and costs of staying closeted, and the benefits and costs of being open--there's good news and bad news about both options. Also, you may decide not to be open at work for now and review your decision in the future--the choice is always there.

Does your profession have an association for gay and lesbian members? You might want to look for people in similar circumstances to ask them how they handle this question. The Queer Resource Directory is a good place to look for lists of organizations, and you can reach it through our link.


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.


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