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Should I come out at work?

On whether full disclosure about sexual identity is always the best way to promote LGBTQ interests

Ethical Jam asks three thought leaders to respond to dilemmas through a prism of Jewish learning, leadership and values. This one’s in honor of National Coming Out Day.

Here’s the jam: I am a woman, married to a man, but I identify as bisexual. I am the assistant director of a medium-sized social service organization with employees from a wide range of backgrounds. We are slowly working on educating our staff on LGBTQ issues; though I am not the lead person on that effort, I have been vocal in support of it. Most of the people at the agency clearly assume that I am straight (there are no “out” LGBTQ people on our staff), and undoubtedly many of them take my perspective more seriously because of that assumption. I feel like I am helping the effort to move our agency forward on these important issues by not actively disclosing my sexual identity (though I would certainly not hide it if it came up directly), but am I undermining the cause (and myself) by remaining passively closeted?

Should I continue my current approach? Or should I make a point of coming out, even if it could, over the short-term, slow the progress we are making in our organization—and also mean I’d have to speak more personally to my co-workers than I usually do?

Is coming out always a better choice in order to make progress on LGBTQ issues? Weigh in by adding a comment below.

About the Author
Ethical Jam presents contemporary ethical dilemmas and the responses of Jewish thinkers from across the world Jewish community. Ethical Jam is a project of the Center for Global Judaism (CGJ) at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Massachusetts and of the Times of Israel, and was created by CGJ’s director Rabbi Or Rose and Hebrew College president Rabbi Daniel Lehmann. It is edited by Rabbi Sue Fendrick, Editor at CGJ. (Illustrative ‘thinking woman’ author photo via
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