I work for a pretty conservative company, and I have never really shared my personal life at work.
I have always kind of just been quiet and did my work. I see my friends going out with their coworkers and having happy hours with their partners and spouses, but the people I work with would not be accepting, so I stay hidden. Our end-of-the-year holiday party is coming up, and of course, everyone is bringing their partners or spouses, and the same old questions come up from my coworkers. The cringy attempts to set me up with someone, and the questioning of how such a handsome man is still single. I don't know why I can't be brave enough to just be honest, but I don't want to be treated differently just because of who I am, but I also don't want to hide. My friends say, just quit, but it's not that easy. This is a high-paying job that I would not be able to get outside this opportunity. I didn't go to college and have worked my way up at this company to a salary range that I wouldn't qualify for anywhere else. I feel trapped, both in this job and in my life. I struggle to date because a lot of guys aren't willing to date someone who is in the closet, and I feel more and more alone.
Dear Corporate Captive,
Coming out is not something that happens once in your life. It is a process that we as queer people must do repeatedly throughout our lives. For some, it gets easier and more outwardly apparent, but for many, it is a process that remains filled with anxiety and worry throughout our lives. If you have been in this position for many years, I can imagine that so much time has gone by that the years have added to the pressure and anxiety of the idea of being honest with your coworkers. We live in a time when workplace protections are non-existent in most areas of the country, so your fear isn't unreasonable, and it could very well have lifestyle-impacting consequences for you. I encourage you, however, to weigh the emotional toll that this situation is having on you with the perks of making a good salary. When all the dust of your life is settled, you will not take your last breath thinking of all the things you were able to buy because you had a nice salary. What kind of car you drove or the brand of clothing you wore will not matter. You can choose a life of financial comfort with the potential for end-of-life regret, or you can choose a humbler financial life with the potential to truly know yourself and to be loved fully. I would personally rather be happy in a hovel than miserable in a Mercedes.
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John Porter is an entrepreneur and founding partner at Oasis Asset Management. He has served as a political organizer and strategist within the Democratic Party, as well as serving as an executive board member for the Miami Yacht Club.
The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.