Being gay in a conservative office blues

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imageContributing blogger John Long is a professional career coach and consultant in Atlanta who founded Two Roads Resources. He blogs at Atlanta Career Coach.

Q: As an engineer who is also gay, I often have the sense that I am a bit isolated working in a fairly conservative, “good ‘ol boy” engineering firm and industry, for that matter. Do you have any suggestions to help me overcome this feeling?

A: Great question. This is an issue that many of us in the LGBT community have faced. The decision on how out to be at our workplace is a very personal one. The reality is such that if we are to enjoy full inclusion, we must experience genuine acceptance.

Be careful not to look at this as a me versus them scenario. Look for opportunities to bridge barriers and form mutually beneficial alliances within your organization. Depending upon your comfort level, you might consider speaking with a supervisor or HR manager to get their insights as well.

An increasing number of larger employers now have LGBT support groups. Also, look into the scope of professional networking and workplace support for the LGBT community, both locally and nationally. Metro Atlanta offers a number of professional networking groups. And dmoz has a growing list of groups that promote inclusion across a wide array of industries and occupations. Echelon magazine and GayBusinessWorld also provide some great information for the LGBT community.

When we seek out a mentor, identify role models and interact with like-minded professionals, we consistently combat that feeling of isolation. And speaking from personal experience, mentors can be an incredible source of motivation, encouragement and creativity.

Have a question you’d like John to answer here? {encode=”[email protected]” title=”Email us.”} Subject: Career Coach.

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