2. Will your company support you? Do your research. No matter how accepting or in-line with a particular issue an organization may be, there is always the chance that the company is only in support because they have to, not because they want to. If this is the case, take into account your own well-being, both mentally and physically before you take a stand and venture out.
3. What's your "gaydar" telling you? Gaydar: the ability to sniff out a homosexual in any crowd. At least that's my definition. Some of us are blessed with a very acute gaydar; and others not so much. Either way, do some internal investigating. Are there others who are LGBT in your organization? If so, are they out? Is there a diversity program for LGBT employees? Is the general vibe of the organization derogatory or supportive towards the LGBT community? Whether it's your gaydar, what you see or what you hear, encourage these senses to guide you as to what steps you should take.
4. Find ways to subtlely introduce your workplace to the issue. I remember the first time I said "My partner and I..." in front of my new boss. I didn't do it to get a reaction; I just slipped it into the conversation. Once you've confirmed that your coworker and bosses are accepting to having your kind on the company roster, take it slow and steady. It doesn't mean you're a wimp or not worthy of being seen for who you truly are. At the end of the "battle for gay rights," it's often the simple photo of your partner on your desk or the "COEXIST" bumper sticker on your car that can open the dialogue.
5. Show compassion. If you find yourself feeling compelled to stand up for your lesbian co-worker's rights at the company picnic and feel that a sack race is the answer to bring everything to a head, just remember that it starts with being compassionate...and there's nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned sack race, just saying. On the other hand, when the conversations and the battles present themselves, people respond more positively when you remind them that it's really about human rights. Keeping it about treating each other as humans, respecting dissenting points of view and maybe even taking the discussion off the clock and out of the work environment, could be the best way to win friends and influence people.
There's always the opportunity, regardless of what the issues are or what side of the fence you stand on, to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Of course the trick is always to decide if their shoes match your outfit. And if they don't just realize they're still human, they have their own fashion sense and their own point of view. Regardless, they should still be treated with respect.
Rick Clemons is a Certified Professional Coach who's been featured on The Ricki Lake Show, and is a highly sought after radio show guest, blogger, author, and Sex Coach U Faculty Member, who lovingly addresses the many facets of Coming Out for all who are touched by this Journey. Rick also hosted his own radio show, The Coming Out Lounge, and has been an expert guest on numerous other radio shows, and in print on national blogs.
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Location: Los Angeles, California