Is it Acceptable to Be Gay At Your Workplace?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

shushing librarian figure (flickr user bookgrl)

Twenty years ago this week, the World Health Organization ceased to categorize homosexuality as a pathology, but is it still considered one socially in the workplace?

For this week's work segment, we look at the issue of being openly gay at work. Takeaway contributor Beth Kobliner explains the current laws and trends. And Jeff Barnes, a gay manager at an IT outsourcing company in Colorado, tells us why he keeps his orientation a secret from most of his colleagues.

We want to know from you, Is it acceptable to be gay in YOUR workplace? Text TAKE to 69866 and send your response. (Message and data rates may apply.) You can also just leave a comment below.


Jeff Barnes

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer


Beth Kobliner

Comments [7]


It's definitely not as easy as some would say. Sure, you can try to keep it secret and not say anything...until the questions from coworkers come. What's one of the first questions a person is asked when meeting someone else? "So, are you married?" A casual "What are you doing this weekend?" if it's something that involves your signifcant other could be dangerous. What if you have to take a day off, or perhaps even more time, due to the sickness of your significant other (I think, for example, of the time I got into a car accident and my partner had to call in to work and say he wouldn't be in that day because an ambulance driver had just called him to come to the hospital)? Should that person lie and make something up, or just refuse to answer the questions?

May. 20 2010 11:08 AM
Alan from Oklahoma

I am a gay male that lives in Oklahoma and works on a drilling crew. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is NOT an option here. If others on the drilling crew were to find out I am gay, I would probably get a pipe wrench to the back of the head. While being "out" is more acceptable in more progressive states such as New York, California, Florida, etc., conservative states like Oklahoma make it very difficult for a gay person to be accepted. Only my family and very close friends know about me.

May. 18 2010 11:05 AM
Matthew from Astoria, Queens (New York City)

All the straight folks (like Brad on Facebook) who say that sexual orientation should just not be brought into the workplace:

Do you have a picture of your wife or husband on your desk? Do you mention at the water cooler that you saw some movie with your girlfriend or that your boyfriend bought you a ring?

You're bringing your sexual orientation in the workplace.

If you can do it, your gay and lesbian colleagues should be able to do it, too.

May. 18 2010 09:19 AM
Suzanne Baker from Livonia, MI

Many of you are completely missing the point. It isn't about announcing your sexual preferences outloud in the workplace. It is about much more subtle freedoms, such as having your domestic partner's photo on your desk, or bringing him / her to the company picnic or party. Are you able to do that? Can you mention your weekend movie date just like any hetero couple? It is the very subtle and taken-for-granted freedoms that hetero couples enjoy, yet most don't realize they have.

May. 18 2010 09:06 AM
Tom Limoncelli from Bloomfield, NJ

Thank you, NPR, for making The Onion come to life:

Area Homosexual Thinks He's Still In The Closet,690/

May. 18 2010 08:44 AM

Brad writes on Facebook:
" 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it!' Seriously, if that is your only identifiable characteristic, get a hobby. 'You're here, you're gay, now get back to work!'

May. 17 2010 04:41 PM
Mark from Somerville MA

I have worked in restaurants all of my life so having gay coworkers as always been normal to me. I think that the restaurant industry is overwhelmingly supportive of gay rights and excepting of gays in general.

May. 17 2010 11:45 AM

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