James Quarmby, tax partner, Thomas Eggar

Ten ways to reveal your lover: coming out the easy way

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  • In the year 2010, it is absolutely vile that an article like this even needs to be written.
    As if teaching gay citizens how to play nice with the people (heterosexuals) who created every single gay person on planet earth is the way to go????
    Shouldn't there REALLY be an article instead of this one that could be titled, 'How to be a heterosexual without abusing and degrading the gay children you may create?'
    I mean, really, this is a straight issue. A heterosexual character-flaw.
    It is not now and will never be a 'gay issue.'

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  • I have worked at large national and regional firms. I don't shout about my sexuality but I don't hide it either. My colleagues have never shown any signs of homophobia and I actually think that lawyers are very accepting and intelligent about the subject.
    I work in corporate finance and in my experience accountants and bankers find the subject much more awkward if it arises in social situations - often embarrassingly so. Again, I generally wouldn't announce the fact but if someone asks me over a pint who I've been on holiday with, or whether I'm married, then I'm not going to lie to them.
    I wouldn't lie to clients either, but I am probably more careful, perhaps more than I should be. If I'm asked if I have a wife or girlfriend, I might just say "no" if I think revealing to them that I actually have a long-term boyfriend might cause embarrassment or awkwardness on their part. You know who you feel comfortable telling and who you don't. If it is a client that I am particularly close to, because I've advised them on a number of deals and built up a good rapport with them, then I might tell them, but honestly, it's never really been a major issue. Perhaps I'm lucky, but honestly I think it's because I am straight-acting and looking and because I am so comfortable with my sexuality, I don't feel the need to make an issue about it to other people.
    In my experience, if you care about your job and concentrate on providing sensible and pragmatic advice, then clients and colleagues will judge you on your ability as a lawyer, not on your sexuality.
    I am very grateful to those who have fought hard over the years for gay rights, and we are lucky in the UK to have these enshrined in law. The only battle I've experienced is the (thankfully few) ignorant people that I've met during my career so far. Work with them, laugh with them, educate them and if you do your job and do it well, then they soon realise that they were wrong.

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  • This is a great article but it grossly underestimates the homophobia that exists in many, many law firms in the USA. Indeed, coming out at work can lead to your firing since the majority of US states do not afford non-discrimination protections to LGBT employees. I speak from experience since I and others I know experienced that fate. I have written about this issue and the failure of law schools to enforce their supposed policues banning anti-gay firms from recruiting on campus on my blog, michael-in-norfolk.

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  • As noted, in a profession of generally well-educated, intelligent and tolerant people, the bulk of this content seems obsolete and potentially reductive. Any community that has struggled so long and hard for equality should avoid using terminology to describe themselves that would be labelled derogatory coming from an 'outsider' - like "Nancy-boy". Imagine the fuss if a straight lawyer was overheard referring to a gay colleague this way. Further, whilst a couple of points resonate with real truth about the state of affairs in certain law firms, I wonder how many lawyers have ever gone to work under a banner reading "Yes, I'm gay, get over it", or driven to the office in a Jeep to make a point about their sexuality. Further, heroic drunkenness and "snogging to the slow numbers on the dance floor" is off-putting to witness at a law firm Christmas party whether the couple is straight or gay. This can't be meant as actual advice on an easy coming out?

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  • Good grief 'anonymous', get a sense of humour! As with other discriminated communities, it is only the relevant community which can reclaim some of the derogatory terms used about it (I think you'll find the African-American community has done this very effectively, so there is precedent)
    Actually, I'd disagree that the bulk of the content of the article is 'obsolete', far from it. Despite the law being composed of very highly-educated and intelligent people, tolerance - understanding would be a bridge too far - is still in woefully short supply.
    What is in great supply is hypocrisy, assumption and outright discrimination, the latter not necessarily writ large but expressed in hundreds of little ways, every day: micro-inequities, in the new discrimination parlance.
    All too often lawyers defer to client 'problems' with gay lawyers to mask their own prejudice, because after all the client is always right. How many refused promotions, covert sackings and generally discriminatory conduct can be put down to this, I wonder? (I have heard of several examples myself). Three cheers for clients who force law firms to spell out how they are approaching the issue of diversity.
    Law schools, new recruits and the legal press need to do more to name, shame and boycott those firms continuing such heinous, inhuman treatment of people, and gay men and women need to come out themselves in order to defeat ignorance, because if we don't, who will?

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  • If humour, rather than Opinion, was the object of the exercise then do ignore my last FB. True equality, though, is always going to be unattainable as long as each relevant community feel a need to reclaim, or claim, derogatory terminology. In any case, as long as it's OK for some and not others there is an imbalance, and these issues will continue to be a running sore.

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  • There is a gay lawyers group which meets regularly in Bristol and Cardiff. Our next meeting is on 28th January in Bristol at the offices of Clarke Willmott with a speaker on developments in civil partnership law followed by drinks and networking . Please feel free to contact me for further details - jon.green@clarkewillmott.com.

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  • I'm sorry, but all of the gay men I've known (and I've truly known - as friends - quite a few) have been heavily into gay pornography, substance abuse, and late night sexual encounters with anonymous strangers. This generally translated into a "spaced out" persona very similar to what you see with long time pot smokers. Homosexuality is not a personality trait anymore than alcoholism is, but like alcoholism it is a serious sexual addition that ultimately affects every aspect of one's life - just look at the life expectancy for gay men! As a senior associate at a large US firm I would exercise more scrutiny when deciding to hire a gay man (at least if i knew he was gay) just as I would someone with known addition problems. Doesn't mean I wouldn't ultimately hire him. He may be one of the very few homosexual men who have achieved stability in their lives and relationships. But I would be cautious nonetheless. And no, I am not going to apologize for my "homophobic" comments because they have nothing to do with phobias.

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  • If you work for White & Case and want to keep your job or have any hope of being made a partner, I would not come out of the closet! I was fired from White & Case because I am gay. White & Case touts its 100% favorable rating (2010 Corporate Equality Index) on lesbian and gay issues from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as being some sign that it is "diverse". However, these ratings from LGBT organizations are based solely on the stated "policies" of the law firm. It is not based on the reality of what occurs at the law firm. The treatment of lesbian and gay attorneys at White & Case, in practice, is abysmally bad. At many firms, like White & Case, lesbian and gay attorneys are widely discriminated against, fired or generally held back from promotion. So, if you are a lesbian or gay (particularly at White & Case), I would have second thoughts about coming out in the work place. The comment by Jack Vance (7;24pm) is one indication; my direct experience at White & Case, another.

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  • Jack Vance:
    (a) I am truly sorry that you are unable to attract the right kind of people as friends around you. I do not blame you for your generalisations in such case, because they are based on your experiences.
    (b) Perhaps you may have already given this some thought, but do you not agree that the extreme and "spaced out" personas you have come across are actually symptomatic of a much larger issue of social marginalising? I hate to delve into "chicken or the egg" conversations, but maybe it's because of people like you, who insist on continuing the trend of associating homosexuality with amorality and lewdness that self-esteem (which is at the base of drug abuse and wreckless behaviour) amongst homosexuals remains statistically lower.
    (c) I'd encourage you to also to reconsider your comparison between alcoholism and homosexuality. I know it's rather unfortunate that the US still lags significantly behind on such social issues, but that is no excuse for a well educated "senior associate at a large US firm" to jump on the bandwagon.
    I hope you do not find this as offensive as I found your post, that honestly is not my intention. I hope that at the very least this inspires some alternative thought in you.

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