By Matt McFall   Published May 12, 2007 at 7:44 AM
As servants of the corporate world tend to do, my co-workers and I were enjoying after work margaritas and “office” discussions.

During a lackluster conversation about the management style of Bryan, the Sales Director, I interjected “He’s cute.” I considered this a rather dull statement, often said by 12-year-old girls on the playground.

But there it was.

When I returned to work the next day I found that my “dull” comment had sky rocketed me to water cooler level gossip. I realized I had a decision to make.

I could deny, deny, deny or I could muster up that illusive gay pride to accept the fate my statement created.

This is an awkward area certainly not covered in training day. For an employee in Milwaukee’s corporate world, is it career suicide to be “out?”

Now if I had said, “Cathy from Master Data is cute,” the gossip bus would’ve passed right by. But I’d made the critical blunder of gossiping about another guy.

Inevitably, I chose not to lie or deny being gay at the office. In corporate Milwaukee, being honest about your sexuality is simply the best policy.

Understand that I work in a medium sized corporate office, with upper management made almost entirely of straight men between ages 35-50. Most of these men have worked together at this company their entire career.

A “good ol boys club” is a staggering understatement, figurines even sit on their desks to identify them as “members.”

I considered the clashing of office politics and being gay. I worried I’d receive negative judgment from co-workers, or I’d jeopardize my future within the company.

Also, I wondered if other employees would only see rainbows and man-purses when they looked at me, blind to the work I’d spent hours perfecting. Then I remembered where I worked was a business, not a contest for Miss Popularity Wisconsin.

No matter where you work, an employee’s main objective is to be productive at his or her job which generates profit. This is why co-workers will always be more interested productivity (them making bonus) then my schoolgirl crush on Josh Hartnett.

Day-to-day tasks at work give employees enough stress. Covering up your sexuality simply isn’t worth all the additional anxiety.

A 2004 survey by OutLook magazine showed that “Sixty-two percent of gay women and men said hiding their sexual orientation was always or often a source of stress on the job.”

Who needs it?

Once I stopped worrying about appearing gay, that whole stress was eliminated.

Wisconsin state law added “sexual orientation” to its list of non-discriminatory employment laws as well. Which means in Wisconsin, employers can’t terminate, mock, or tease employees because they’re out of the closet.  

Not to say that everyone should start slinging lawsuits just because a manager asks if you like the new Madonna CD.  But the rainbow flag is a little easier to wave when the strong arm of the law is helping to hold it up.

By the next day at work when questions or whispers came from co-workers, I replied, “I have to learn to keep my mouth shut.”  

I also spoke with Bryan who said he thought it was professional that I handled the situation “straight.”  Soon enough the corporate gossip mill was churning on another person.

That’s the thing, gossip mills are fickle. Soon a topic like gay co-workers was “out, per se, and a completely new topic was in.

It’s just that the best corporate policy is to be honest about who you are and eliminate the gossip, this way your hard work speaks for itself.

If your co-workers still think homosexuality is so interesting, well … that’s gay.