Closeted At Work? It could hurt company performance…

LGBT people work everywhere. But we’re not always welcome to be ourselves at work. In fact, it’s sometimes downright discouraged and even could be grounds for termination in some states. Well here’s something for intolerant employers: A new study suggests that coming out at work could enhance job performance for co-workers of the uncloseted- and therefore the company.

Supporters of policies that force gay and lesbian individuals to conceal their sexual orientation in the workplace argue that working with openly gay individuals undermines performance. We examine this claim in two studies and find the opposite effect. Specifically, participants working with openly gay partners performed better on a cognitive task (i.e., a math test) and a sensory-motor task (i.e., a Wii shooting game) than individuals left to wonder about the sexual orientation of their partners. These results suggest that policies, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” that introduce uncertainty into social interactions harm rather than protect performance. (emphasis mine) 

 

 

We’ve always known that being trapped in the closet can be harmful to the self-esteem and self-worth of a person. It turns out that maintaining integrity in your personal life is also good for your working life. Makes sense to me. Ask anyone who has to remain closeted at work how hard it is to self-monitor at that level for 8-10 hours a day. Excruciating. And if you’re in the military, or member of an institution that actively frowns on The Gay- well, it’s even more terrible. Pretty much 24-hour-a-day anxiety and fear.

 

Living a life of integrity in the workplace was a dream of mine ever since I came out. I vowed I wouldn’t have to go back in- ever. But I’ve been more fortunate than some. Economic concerns about losing jobs can make this situation even more painful- there just aren’t a lot of choices for employers right now- especially in rural areas.

 

But maybe CEO’s who want to improve the job performance of their companies will see this and create more integrity-supportive personnel policies. It just makes sense.

 

And cents. And we all know that money talks. Especially today.

 

So feel free to put this post up in your break room….

Here’s Me

Here’s me,
With all the things that don’t look to match,
Glaring socks- red, purple, black, yellow, blue.
Wanting to find the mate,
But whatever keeps the feet warm, right?

Inside it’s all the same anyway-
But they wouldn’t like it if
We all knew that all the differences
Are created and maintained by
People who make money on difference.

The outside gets to be the billboard
Or the post-it. You decide, you know.
Whether to believe the voices and the texts
And the strange rustling of yourself
Under the sheets of paper and old, torn cotton.

That wind is blowing again, from the south
This time, bringing a smell of old cannons
And resentment for my freedom from those
Leaves of words that have been worked into
The rat-tailed chains prisoners don’t even try to lift.

But I have the idea that it’s all paper and
Mismatched socks, and thoughts and
Sometimes hearts that have been twisted
through disappointment and fear to give
up ever beating for any other, and so can’t love.

Here’s me, and maybe you. Just maybe,
Untangling and untwisting and looking hard
At words and things and noises that are the lights
Of some contrary star. Wreckage ahead,
Not home. Avoided, maybe. Again.

And those cold, cold feet get to keep watch,
Because I can’t have socks telling me
What to do all the time. I only need
One hat, though, and one map, beating-
And one soul. Quiet and strong and warm.

~D Gregory Smith

Where’s The Outcry?

by Jamee Greer

Most of you have probably already heard that the MT GOP platform was reaffirmed on June 19th, and included a plank under the heading of “Crimes” calling for recriminalization of gays and lesbians. (http://www.mtgop.org/platform.aspx)

This reflects how much power the religious right has on the Montana Republican Party today.

MCA 45-5-505, the deviant sexual conduct code, was ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the MT Supreme Court – and 2003 by the US Supreme Court. The law, which is still on the books despite multiple attempts at removal both before and after the court rulings, calls for up to 10 years in prison and/or $50,000 in fines. (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/5/45-5-505.htm)

LGBTQ Montanans are our family, friends, neighbors, firefighters, police officers, and small business owners. LGBT Montanans staff our hospitals, teach our children, build our towns, and pay taxes. We cannot be forced back into the dark and discriminatory shadows of this unjust law.


There are real and disastrous consequences associated with supporting recriminalization.

In 1995, the legislature tried to force lifetime registration of gay men and lesbians convicted under the law, that is, lifetime tracking and reporting through the sexual or violent offender registry simply for being gay or lesbian. The law, and its supporter’s rhetoric, is not just archaic and discriminatory, but can encourage violence against members of the LGBTQ community in Montana.

There’s been one press story on this that I know of, and it ran in the Missoula Independent.

(http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/lgbt/Content?oid=1273242)

There’s a growing chorus of voices upset by the fact that the MT Democratic Party hasn’t come forward in support of Montana’s gay and lesbian community.

I get the feeling as a gay man – and what the opponents like to call “professional homosexual” – that some in the party think talking about gays and lesbians hurts their chances at winning. When you’re talking about discrimination in the workplace, polling of likely voters suggests otherwise. Most Montanans support non-discrimination protections that give LGBT people equal protection under the law in housing, employment and public accommodations, like hotels and doctor’s offices.

The GOP has taken this to a new level and is calling for criminal status for all gays and lesbians! Both sides of the aisle should be coming alive, speaking out and taking action.

Beat the drums loudly. Talk about this on your blogs. Talk about it with your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends and your families.

I know this list is statewide, are there central committees interested in bringing forward resolutions condemning the platforms? Is there some statewide listserv to get that word out on? Can everyone commit to writing about this – and calling for both Democrats and Republicans – to denounce the platform?

Thanks to all. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Best regards,

Jamee Greer
Montana Human Rights Network
jamee@mhrn.org  406-241-7716


Being Gay IS A Choice

Recently I got a letter from someone I’ve known since childhood, who read my blog and felt compelled to write, “It disgusts me that you’ve made the choice to be Gay and go to Hell, especially with all your theological training.”

There was more, but that was the money quote. Of course, I felt compelled to respond.

“You are exactly right. Being Gay is a choice. It is a choice to respond with honesty, integrity and humility to thoughts and feelings that are not a choice. It is a choice to move away from the dark feelings of fear, self-loathing and dishonesty into the light of understanding, honesty, self-acceptance and respect. I have absolutely no choice about whether or not I am gay- I do have to make choices every day about faithfully following the heart that God gave me, as do you. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am not as kind or understanding or honest with myself or others about my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I have thoughts of anger, as I have now, wondering why you feel it necessary to denounce me, someone you “fooled around” with in such an “unholy” manner years ago.

I don’t ask you to understand me, just to accept my experience. Maybe it’s like you never understanding how I could love broccoli when we were kids. Unexplainable, but you never questioned my sanity or the state of my soul because of it. I’m going to say that this is exactly the same thing. Broccoli lovers all over the world can’t explain why they enjoy eating broccoli, they just know they do. And so it is with my heart.

After years of struggling with guilt, shame and fear, I finally came to the simple conclusion that being gay is my honest reality. This was an understanding arrived at through years of self examination, pain and soul searching- it was not the product of indoctrination or brainwashing.

We all make choices. We can choose to feel better by making someone else feel bad, to condemn rather than try to understand, to be right or be happy. I’m sure you have made some choices I will never understand, but I hope I can, at least, give you the benefit of an attempt at explanation. That’s what I hope. That’s my goal. Because living my life in a way that’s faithful to my heart- well, that is the choice I want to make every day.”