James Quarmby, tax partner, Thomas Eggar

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

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  • What a dreadfully dated, homophobic, nasty, self-loathing article! I can't believe this was written by a gay man about other gay men and supposedly how to be happy and honest at work. Reading this made me think we must be living in some kind of Dark Age, where being gay is akin to having some kind of disease, something to be gently brought up in conversation. Just tosh!

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  • I wont even dignify Jack Vance's comment with a response, but in my experience (albeit as a lowly NQ solicitor) is to have a sense of humour about it.
    I have never felt the need to "come out" at work - some people have guessed, some have asked (and I wouldn't lie) and some have no idea. I like it that way - it feels like I am the one with the power. I have rarely come across homophobia in my firm and if I did I am confident that it would be dealt with immediately. I've had the odd jibe, like "backs against the wall" etc but usually find that this only comes from arrogant, ugly men who probably have issues with their own sexuality.
    My advice would be to have a sense of humour about the whole thing and to use it to your advantage - in my experience female partners love gay trainees/junior solicitors and it can be good to build rapport with people - I suppose it doesn't threaten a lot of people so instantly you can build trust - and strike when you need to!
    Hopefully one day this whole topic will be irrelevant in any case!

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  • Jack Vance:

    Interesting. I feel the same way about hiring heterosexuals. So many of them I know have been alcoholic frat boys, who go out all hours of the night chasing women, into pornography, etc. I know they can't help it. They were born that way. :)

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  • I wasn't going to comment again, but I must take issue with Mr Hussain's post. I think he must have read a different article, because I fail to see how anyone could describe mine as either 'homophobic' or 'nasty' . Perhaps he would like to explain his comments. Incidentally, If you want a real example of nasty homophobia then just look at some of the posts in response to my article.
    I find Mr Hussain's allegation that I am a 'self-loathing' gay man to be cheap, ridiculous and personally offensive and I would ask that he withdraw those remarks.

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  • I have always been of the view that an individual employee's private life, regardless of their sexuality, is simply nobody else's busines, and my experience of shocking discrimination due to my own private life in a firm where I worked previously has done nothing to alter this view. Although I had strong grounds for bringing a case of constructive dismissal against my former employers, I did not feel able to do so, and I am sure that the behaviour of certain senior figures within the firm was due to their (correct) assumption that I would not be willing to "wash my dirty linen in public" at an Industrial Tribunal. Although I had nothing to be ashamed of, I suspect that I was not alone in my fear of being publicly shamed and (ironically) prejuduced in seeking employment in the future - whatever the circumstances, a successful case can be something of a Pyrrhic victory for an employee...........

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  • As the chairman of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association (LAGLA), I have come across many different stories and from the responses here I can see that this still rings true. While the humorous advice in the article may be overkill for some firms, I can also see that in other gay men and lesbians do not feel they can come out. In larger firms there may be a huge discrepancy from one department to another.
    For anyone who wishes to meet other gay lawyers in a social atmosphere, please do join (it is free) LAGLA http://www.lagla.org.uk or look at our Facebook group.
    As for myself, I had written my undergraduate dissertation on an obvious gay topic (age of consent) and put that on my CV. This made it obvious to any interviewer that I was gay (or at least that it was pretty likely) and there was no need to come out later on. It also meant that it probably ruled out some job opportunities, but I would not have wanted to work in such firms anyway only to find out that there is a homophobic culture later on.
    Within the wider family law profession, I am out and we advertise family law services actively to lesbians and gay men at Alternative Family Law, so there is no further need to come out. I agree, however, that it is maybe awkward at times to “come out” if there is no reason and you are already out to some people. I have therefore always taken a proactive approach.

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  • "Jack Vance
    I'm sorry, but all of the Americans I've known (and I've truly known - as friends - quite a few) have been heavily into bigotry, overeating, and binge drinking. This generally translated into obesity and ill-health. Being American is not a personality trait anymore than alcoholism is, but like alcoholism it is a serious addition that ultimately affects every aspect of one's life - just look at the life expectancy for Americans! As a senior associate at a large UK firm I would exercise more scrutiny when deciding to hire an American (at least if i knew he was American) 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 Americans who eat healthily and exercise a lot, maybe one of those gay men. But I would be cautious nonetheless. And no, I am not going to apologize for my "anti-American" comments because they have nothing to do with phobias."

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  • (Town Crieresque bellow): I am in fact Jack Vance!!

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  • What Jack Vance says is suprising. Jack, when you are next in town, meet me for a glass of mineral water and a vitamin "c" tablet. I will demonstrate to you that it is (believe it or not!) possible to be gay without being an alcoholic or a sex/drug/porn addict. In fact, you can be very hard working like me and spend your spare time at the gym followed by early nights (unaccompanied!).

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  • James Quarmby | 6-Jan-2010 12:40 pm -

    So your "serious message" is that "we gay lawyers need to be out and proud so that we are able to smoke out - and deal with - any latent homophobia within our profession"...

    Perhaps each "minority" (or "majority") should have a "two minutes anti-hate" and see what prejudices we can shake loose to be stamped on and crushed like a bug? Perhaps Muslims and Jews should unite in the caff to protest the eating of pork products at breakfast so as to smoke out - and deal with - those prejudiced against their religions? And black lawyers should take a daily walk through their offices shouting "Black Power" to smoke out - and deal with - racists? Should women burn their bras by the watercooler to smoke out - and deal with - misogynists? Should Australian Aboriginals mark the passing of each hour of the day by a burst on a digeridoo to smoke out - and deal with - the lurking anti-ethnic intolerants? Should shorter people cultivate Danny DeVito mannerisms to smoke out - and deal with - those evil anti-shortists?

    Or perhaps there are enough people out there who realise how destructive identity politics is, or maybe who are sufficiently bored of it? Instead, what I would dearly love to see is every single person dropping their various pro- and anti- agendas entirely for a day / week / year and instead simply treating the persons you come across as individuals. Decide how to treat a person by their own unique successes, failings and personality rather than defining them only as part of a supposedly homogenous group. The only discrimination legislation needed should fetch you a fat lip for doing anything else.

    The corollary of that is that being "out and proud" for the sake of "smoking out" those who are anywhere along a range from outright bigot to someone who made a silly joke is counterproductive. I have never felt the need to impose my sexuality, race, religion, political views etc on anyone. Anyone that seeks to impose such aspects of their lives on me will not endear themselves. Be intelligent, funny, kind etc and impress with those characteristics. I do not need to be appraised of your particular "minority" (or "majority") proclivity and would be happier never knowing. I promise not to tell you mine if you can resist telling me yours. If we can ever get to that stage, what could bigots be bigoted against? Imagine how annoyed they would be!

    Short version: If you insist on actively looking for prejudice you may well find some even where it never existed before. Relax and be yourself, not an agenda.

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