Myth 1: Coming out is easier if you’re bisexual
— Coming out as gay or lesbian at work isn’t always easy. But what if you had to explain your sexuality twice, three times or more to the same colleagues whenever you had a new partner? For accountant Emma Brice that’s the reality of choosing to be openly bisexual in the office.
Emma has been honest about her sexuality since she joined the company, a global financial services firm, and is the bisexual representative for the business’s LGBT network. Despite being currently happy in a same-sex relationship, everyone, from her boss down, knows she is attracted to both men and women. So why is any mention of a man she finds attractive always an eye-opener for her well-informed colleagues?
It’s a normal reaction, Emma explains. “You always need to come out to every person at least twice,”
she says. “They forget or your relationship changes and they express shock and surprise that you’re now going out with someone whose gender is different.”“People think that because you’ve been in a same-sex relationship for a long time, you must now be a lesbian.”
Stonewall’s latest Workplace Equality Index
showed that bisexual women are eight times less likely to be open with colleagues than lesbians
and seven times less likely to be open with their manager
. The figures are even more discouraging for bisexual men, who are 10 times less likely to be open about their sexual orientation with colleagues than gay men
and six times less likely to be open with their manager.
For Richard, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, coming out doesn’t feel like an option. As a risk analyst for a major insurance company in the City, he fears that his colleagues will ridicule and ostracise him. At worst, he believes his sexuality could hinder his chances of promotion.
He said: “If I am working with a consultant in the Middle East, a lot of clients there are homophobic. They probably wouldn’t want to work with me if they found out I was gay or bisexual. That could have a big impact on my position in the company.”