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The gay-friendly closet

  • Christine L. Williams
  • Patti A. Giuffre
  • Kirsten Dellinger
Special Issue Article

Abstract

In recent decades, U.S. popular opinion has become more accepting of homosexuality, a shift apparent in the workplace, where gay-friendly policies increasingly are in effect. These changes in attitudes and organizational practices have led some scholars to question the relevance of the closet for describing the contemporary lives of lesbians and gay men. The authors investigated this claim by analyzing in-depth interviews with lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals who were out at work and who described their workplaces as gay friendly. Despite the clear benefits they associated with these organizations, some respondents faced a paradox: They either were compelled to downplay their homosexuality at work or were constrained by stereotypes about how LGB people were expected to look, act, and work. Thus, just as in the era of the closet, the workplace—even contexts that LGB employees define as gay friendly—may involve forced choices between acceptance and visibility.

Key words

workplaces homosexuality normalization gay visibility LGB 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine L. Williams
    • 1
  • Patti A. Giuffre
    • 2
  • Kirsten Dellinger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TexasAustin
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTexas State University-San MarcosSan Marcos
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Mississippi

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