The Luv Doc: Being Yourself
You can be you when you're off the clock
Dear Luv Doc,
Some months ago a CEO of a major computer company came out of the closet declaring his homosexuality. I have no comment on this event except to say that I wish someone in the media would have asked him the question everyone really wants to know. (Do you plan to surround yourself with upwardly mobile junior executives that go down on you?) No, my question centers around a comment made by a news commentator along these lines: "This represents a new openness to 'be yourself' in the workplace." ....... Really? In my days in the business world there was absolutely no interest in you being yourself, that same-old fuck-up you've always been. The attitude was more, "Do you think you can be this person in the job description?" So that's my question, Luv Doc. Have things really changed that much in the business world?
Sin Seer Ly – CR
Damn it CR, that is one steaming hot potato of a question, isn’t it? Let me start by saying this: I personally hope that one day we will all live in a world where we get to earn a living while being exactly who we want to be. I know that probably makes it sound like I want everyone to work the burrito line at Freebirds, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
I think what you’re really asking is: What is the relevance of self-expression of any kind in a work environment? I want to believe that (blowie joke aside) you’re not taking issue with this fellow outing himself but rather the idea that it even matters; that his sexual orientation has no bearing on his ability to make good computers. I agree with you. It doesn’t.
I don’t care if you are gay, straight, trans, alien, animal, mineral, or vegetable, when I pay you for goods or a service I first and foremost want that good or service delivered – ideally in a friendly and courteous manner that makes me feel good about parting with my money. Call me shallow, but that is as deep as I want that interaction to go. I don’t want to hear about your psoriasis, insomnia, crazy relatives, or your gluten-intolerant, clinically depressed cat.
When you are hired for a “position” in a company, you are being asked to fulfill a role. Sometimes that role might dovetail seamlessly with your badass sense of self, but most jobs demand someone entirely different, and that’s completely OK. You can be you when you’re off the clock. Besides, you can’t be a garbageman, or a nurse, or a cop, or even a rock star 24/7. You need some downtime.
That said, I don’t think this fellow outing himself is necessarily a statement about opening up and being yourself in the workplace. In fact, it could be quite the opposite. Maybe his real message is, “See? It doesn’t matter. I can still make good computers and be gay.” Sadly, that’s a message some people still need to hear.