I first told my family and friends I was bisexual when I was 17. But then I had a nine-year relationship with a woman. Then I ended up with a man.
When my relationship with my female partner ended, I felt I had to tell people at work about my sexuality because I had to explain that my new partner was a man. My ex knew I was bisexual and we are still friends but our separation had nothing to do with my sexuality.
I handled coming out at work the same way I did when I was 17 with my family. I simply said, “I’ve got a boyfriend now.”
It felt good to talk about that honestly because when I was with my female partner there was always an aspect of myself I didn’t really talk about. When I finally told my colleagues, I felt I was being more honest and therefore more authentic as a person and a colleague.
People were mostly supportive but some reacted as though I had been lying to them. I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Oh, that’s good. You finally figured out who you are,” was a common reaction. But I already knew who I was - I just had a partner of a different sex to what people expected.
And that’s the only negative reaction I’ve ever really had to my sexuality – when people say bisexuality doesn’t exist. Thankfully, things have changed a lot just in the last five years. Now there’s an understanding there’s a spectrum of sexuality and there are as many points on that spectrum as there are people in the world.
These days I don’t even tell people I’m bisexual. I say my sexuality is fluid. The term bisexual was coined such a long time ago before the spectrum idea came into theory and I feel like that orientation doesn’t really match me. If I’m with a guy it’s easier to say I’m gay. If I’m with a woman it’s easier to say I’m straight. And in those relationships, that’s what I am. But when I’m single, I feel like I’m none of those.
Accenture’s LGBTI Ally Network
Accenture has a great Pride network as well as an LGBTI Ally Network, which is open to anyone who wants to show they support the community. In the past people would usually become allies if they had a close connection with someone who was gay, such as a relative. Now people join the network because they want to show they support inclusion and diversity.
And it’s not just at the office where things have changed. When the gay marriage vote passed, I was working on site in Canberra. The client organised for us to go down to the café where they were screening the results. It was very emotional to have a client who wanted to make sure I knew they support me.
What I love most about Pride at Accenture, as an LGBTI employee, is when straight employees get behind it. That really makes me feel good and way more connected to the company than when it’s just gay people flying the flag. We’re all so much stronger when we’re together. I feel the same about gender equality. It’s so important men are behind that because it shows there’s value for everyone. Women and LGBTI are aligned in some ways. I have a better understanding of what it is like for women in the workplace being an LGBTI employee. I think there are some similarities in those feelings.
So that’s my story. Wherever you land on the LGBTI spectrum, if you’re thinking of coming out to your colleagues, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
3 tips for coming out at work – if and when you’re ready